Someone who wants to become a 911 operator needs a high school graduate diploma. In addition, many states require 911 operators to have certificates.
As well as having high school graduate diplomas, most 911 operators need to pass a writing test and written exam. Many states also perform criminal background checks and ask their dispatchers to complete vision and hearing tests. It is also necessary to be a United States citizen in most states, and some employers ask their dispatchers to have a driver's license. Good customer service skills are a must, and being able to speak Spanish gives candidates an advantage.
Candidates who fulfill all the entry requirements have to undergo training, which varies between states. Most training is classroom based, followed by an observational period and then a probationary role that lasts up to a year. In some states, 911 operators need to engage in further education or retrain every 2 to 3 years.
During their training, 911 operators may learn about local geography, the agency's protocols and how to respond to various calls. High-risk training is also available, which includes responding to calls that involve minors and individuals committing suicide. Finally, 911 operators learn how to use a various types of equipment. This includes two-way radios and computer systems.