How Much Does a 911 Operator Make?

Emergency call center operators dispatch police, fire and paramedics to emergency calls.

Emergency dispatchers, also called 911 operators, are responsible for taking calls from the general public. These workers typically work for local or state government agencies, police departments or fire departments. emergency dispatcher salaries can vary widely depending on a variety of factors.

National Average

About 98,090 people worked as 911 operators in the United States in 2009, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. These workers made an average hourly wage of about $17.53, or about $36,470 per year. The median 50 percent earned about $16.73 per hour, or $34,790. The top 10 percent made about $25.57 per hour, or about $53,190 per year, while the lowest 10 percent earned an average of $10.67 per hour, or about $22,200 per year.

Most Common Industries

The vast majority of 911 operators, about 82,530 of them, are employed in the "local government" sector of the industry, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. These workers made an average income of about $17.67 per hour, or about $36,750 per year. The second most common sector for these workers, "other ambulatory health care services" employed about 5,620 911 operators who earned an average wage of about $15.41 per hour, or $32,050 a year.

Highest Paying Industries

Emergency operators and dispatchers employed in the "medical and diagnostic laboratory" sector of the industry had the highest average salaries in 2009, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, making about $19.77 per hour, or about $41,120 per year. Emergency dispatchers working in the "state government" sector had the second-highest average salaries, making about $19.08 per hour, or about $39,680 per year.

Geographical Differences

The five states with the highest average salaries for 911 operators in 2009 were, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics: California, Nevada, Washington, Oregon and Illinois. Operators in California earned an average hourly wage of $25.40 per hour, or about $52,830 per year, while those in Illinois made about $21.53 per hour, or about $44,790 per year. Operators in San Jose, California, had the highest average salaries out of any city in the country, earning an average of $34.49 per hour, or $71,750 per year.

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