911 Dispatcher Requirements in Michigan

Most of Michigan’s emergency dispatchers work for governmental entities. The state has 147 Public Safety Answer Points, or PSAPs. The vast majority of these operate at the city or county level; a smallpercentage are under the jurisdiction of universities, multi-county authorities, or the Michigan state government (http://www.michigan.gov/documents/msp/2015_Annual_Report_to_the_Legislature_498458_7.pdf).

Before hire, an individual must meet requirements set by the particular jurisdiction. After hire, he or she must complete state-mandated training. Michigan provides, by national standards, a generous amount of funding for training.

Higher education, such as an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, may offer additional opportunities and status in the Emergency Dispatcher field.

Select a Michigan 911 Emergency Dispatcher Topic

Hiring Requirements and Expectations

An emergency dispatcher can generally enter the field with education at the high school diploma or GED level. He or she should be prepared to tackle a number of assessments. Typing is among the skills that is frequently assessed. Hiring agencies may assess other skills such as reading comprehension and multi-tasking ability. The Michigan State Police, advertising for an emergency dispatcher in Gaylord, notes that a basic aptitude test will be administered and that writing ability is demonstrated through resume and related documents (http://www.michigan.gov/documents/EmergencyDispatcher_12592_7.pdf).

Employers may want some background knowledge. The State Police, for example, may screen for knowledge of emergency communications and of dispatch center operations. Knowledge of geography is another common expectation.

College coursework may facilitate entry into the field, particularly if the individual has little in the way of related experience. The following are examples:

A candidate for Emergency Dispatcher I in Livingston County must possess one qualification beyond high school; this may be education, experience, or certification. An individual qualifying on the basis of education will need 48 credit hours in a field related to public safety. An individual qualifying by certification will need certification in emergency medical, fire, and police dispatch (http://livingston.iapplicants.com/ViewJob-472221.html?jb=3&source=13537).

An Oakland County Dispatch Specialist may also qualify on the basis of education, certification, or experience. Individuals qualifying on the basis of education will need 24 credit hours. The required certifications (for individuals choosing this pathway) are emergency medical dispatch and emergency fire dispatch.

The Ferndale Police seeks the equivalent of a year of college and a year of clerical or communications work, noting that priority dispatch experience is a preferred qualification.

A candidate can expect a comprehensive background check. The prospective employer may test physical abilities, for example, hearing.

Prior EMT experience is often valued in medical dispatch positions. However, it may be enough to have current CPR certification at the time of hire.

Training Requirements

Michigan requires that an emergency dispatcher complete two 40-hour modules during his or her first 24 months of employment (http://www.michigan.gov/documents/msp/Dispatcher_Training_Manual_2013_455386_7.pdf).

The first module, which is to be completed within 18 months of hire, includes the following:

  • Public safety overview
  • Interpersonal communications
  • Telephone techniques
  • Telecommunicator roles and responsibilities
  • Call classifications
  • Public safety technologies
  • Radio communications
  • Legal aspects of dispatch
  • Stress management

The next 40 hour module includes the following topics:

  • Suicide intervention
  • Domestic violence
  • 911 liability
  • Stress management
  • Homeland security elective

This module may be taken as a 40-hour course or as five eight-hour courses.

An employee who has not yet completed both modules (but is not delinquent) is known as a Telecommunicator Trainee.

The dispatcher will need to do 24 hours of continuing education every 24 months. No more than eight of the required hours are to be credited for internal training. Continuing education courses must be approved by the State 911 Committee (SNC).

The State 911 Committee has provided a list of approved courses. There are a number of courses offered by the Oakland Police Academy as well as by well-known national and regional providers such as APCO International, Priority Dispatch, PowerPhone, and Success Communications. There are many possible topics, ranging from non-emergency calls and dispatcher burnout to missing children incidents and autism safety. The dispatcher can get credit for EMD, EFD, and EPD certification courses. Some courses focus on supervision and managerial training, for example, EMD management.

Career Options

911 dispatch can provide a foundation for other related careers. A dispatcher may choose to work in the private sector for example, as a resort dispatcher. Some individuals work as security dispatchers, taking on some duties that might not be required in a traditional PSAP setting. Among the possible employers: colleges.

A dispatcher may progress to supervisory positions — for example, with the State Police — on the strength of a high school diploma and progressively responsible experience. This assumes that he or she has the requisite skill and knowledge base; among the expected competencies are knowledge of administrative practices, ability to identify training needs and initiate appropriate training, and ability to conduct studies and prepare reports (http://www.michigan.gov/documents/EmergencyDispatchSupervisor_12594_7.pdf).

Emergency dispatch is part of a broad field — emergency communications — that includes training and education, quality control and documentation, implementation of new technologies, public education, and multiple levels of planning. Administrators plan for large-scale emergencies such as floods as well as individual crises. Individuals aspiring to higher levels of administration will generally need college degrees.

Additional Information

Emergency dispatch training information is available from the State 911 Committee (http://www.michigan.gov/msp/0,1607,7-123-1593_47748—,00.html).

Additional information about the state’s emergency systems is available from the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (https://www.michigan.gov/mpsc/).

Professional organizations include the Michigan Chapter of APCO International (http://www.miapco.org/) and the Michigan Emergency Numbers Association (http://www.michigannena.org). MENA has provided a list of upcoming training opportunities by well-known providers (http://michigannena.org/jobs.htm).