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Emergency medical dispatcher

Alternative titles for this job include Emergency call handler, ambulance dispatcher

Emergency medical dispatchers handle calls from the public and GPs requesting an ambulance.

Average salary (a year)

£23,000 Starter


£28,000 Experienced

Typical hours (a week)

40 to 42 a week

You could work

evenings / weekends / bank holidays on shifts

How to become

Explore the different ways to get into this role.

How to become Emergency medical dispatcher

You can get into this job through:

  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • applying directly


You could do a college course to get some of the computer and typing skills you'll need in this job. 

You could do a level 2 award in touch typing or a level 2 ICDL award in IT user skills.

Entry requirements

There are no set entry requirements for this route.

More Information


You can get into this role through an emergency service contact handling advanced apprenticeship.

You'll usually need to be over 18 years old and might need a GCSE grade 9 to 4 (A* to C) in English or equivalent.

Entry requirements

Employers will set their own entry requirements.

More Information


You'll find it helpful to have some healthcare experience before applying for a job.

You could:

Direct Application

You can apply directly to your local ambulance service

Each service sets their own entry requirements, but it could help your application if you have:

  • GCSEs grade 9 to 4 (A* to C) in English, maths and science
  • experience in customer service, like a call centre operator
  • map reading skills and knowledge of local geography
  • an understanding of medical terminology
  • a recognised and current first aid qualification

More Information

Career tips

You'll be expected to understand how the NHS values apply in your work when applying for a job.

Further information

You can find out more about how to become an emergency medical dispatcher from Health Careers.

What it takes

Find out what skills you’ll use in this role.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You'll need:

  • customer service skills
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • sensitivity and understanding
  • the ability to think clearly using logic and reasoning
  • knowledge of public safety and security
  • administration skills
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

Restrictions and Requirements

You'll need to:

What you’ll do

Discover the day to day tasks you’ll do in this role.

What you'll do

Day-to-day tasks

In this role you could:

  • keep the caller calm to find out the location, details of what happened and condition of the patient
  • give first aid advice to people facing life-threating situations
  • decide which crew and vehicles to dispatch based on the situation and who is nearest
  • contact the crew and pass on essential information
  • create a record of calls

Working environment

You could work in a control room.

Your working environment may be emotionally demanding.

Career path and progression

Look at progression in this role and similar opportunities.

Career path and progression

With experience, you could become a team leader or control room superintendent.

You could also do additional training to become an emergency care assistant or paramedic.

Current opportunities

Find apprenticeships, courses and jobs available near you.

Current opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

Contact Officer (Initial Contact) Apprenticeship

  • Wage: £24,921 a year Annually
  • Location: Operational Support, Dudley Hill, Bradford and Laburnum Road, Wakefield

Courses In England

NCFE L1 Cert Customer Service

  • Provider: YORK COLLEGE
  • Start date: 09 September 2024
  • Location: York

Level 2 Certificate in Customer Service

  • Start date: 30 July 2024
  • Location: Durham

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