What is a 911 Operations Supervisor?

A 911 operations supervisor plays one of the most important public safety roles within government administration. These professionals supervise emergency communications and dispatch appropriate services for police, fire and medical services.


911 operations supervisors delegate daily work responsibilities and direct dispatchers when responding to emergencies, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Because of the sensitive nature of emergency response, 911 operations supervisors closely monitor and support all of their employee’s actions. This is to ensure that safety protocols and state policies are followed exactly to the letter. They consistently evaluate individual reports and overall employee performances, so they can follow up with necessary training and professional development.

Because of the stressful nature of the job, the turnover rates are rather high at 911 dispatch centers. This means that 911 operations supervisors often must screen, interview, background check, test and hire new employees. 911 operations supervisors coordinate operations with other agencies, maintain 24-hour dispatcher schedules and processes requests for records from citizens, prosecutors and public safety officers.

Required Attributes

911 operations supervisors almost always start their careers as entry-level dispatchers who maintain patience, clear thinking and control during intense and stressful situations. They need to be knowledge of codes, procedures and terminology used in public safety dispatching. They also need superior technical skills because they use radio, electronic, computer and telecommunications systems that are generally not available to the public.

911 operations supervisors are continually training to maintain awareness of changing dispatching, public safety and radio and telecommunications regulations. This means that they must know the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) requirements for public safety dispatch centers. 911 operations supervisors must have strong pedagogical skills because they continually train new hires and re-train existing employees.

Special Employment Conditions

Public safety agencies have very high hiring and employment standards. For example, 911 dispatchers must obtain passing scores on comprehensive dispatcher exams. This typically involves a computer-based test that shows real-world situations, such as injured people and car accidents. The exam will ask the candidate to select the best course of action, which may not always be clear.

Employment also depends on passing multiple oral interviews, a background investigation and a pre-employment medical exam. Candidates must have a history free of felonies and child or adult dependent abuse. 911 dispatch centers run 24-hours a day all year round, so employees must be able to work holidays, weekends and rotating shifts.

Required Education and Certifications

Due to the stressful nature of the position, the job requirements are usually a two-year associates degree, although some dispatch centers will accept a high school diploma with several years of dispatch or supervisor experience. 911 operations supervisors are expected to obtain the Emergency Medical Dispatch  certification within six months of hire.

Although training requirements vary by state, many states require at least 40 or more hours of initial training that is renewed every two to three years. Some dispatch centers have their own internal programs for certifying dispatchers, but most use state agencies or professional associations such as the National Emergency Number Association and the Association of Public-Safety Communications.

Related Resource: Disaster Program Manager

911 operations supervisors protect and serve the public by maintaining public safety programs that manage every possible type of emergency.