911 Communications Specialist (Entry Level and Lateral)

King County   Renton, WA   Full-time     Advertising / Marketing / Public Relations
Posted on September 1, 2021
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09/14/2021 Update: This recruitment will close on Thursday, September 30, 2021. 
All applications submitted prior to closing will be considered.

King County Sheriff’s Office is seeking individuals with outstanding customer service and communication skills for the position of 911 Communications Specialist. This is a great opportunity to launch a rewarding and exciting career. Communications Specialists serve as Call Receivers and Dispatchers, partnering with the KCSO Deputies in the field to serve and protect King County residents.


New 911 dispatchers complete a comprehensive training program during the first year of employment. This includes classroom training and extensive on-the-job training.  After 18 months, Call Receivers will receive additional required training to advance to Dispatcher. Dispatchers use telephones and radios to provide critical information and communicate directly with and support deputies in the field.  As a King County Sheriff's Office (KCSO) 911 Dispatcher, you will handle law enforcement calls only. Requests for fire or EMS assistance are immediately transferred to other agencies
Call Receiver Salary $27.24 - $32.93 hourly
Dispatcher Salary is $33.72 – $37.08 hourly
WHO MAY APPLY: This position is open to the public.

  • Entry level candidates must demonstrate a minimum of one-year experience providing a high level of customer service with the aptitude and skills to perform the primary duties listed in this posting. 
  • Lateral candidates must demonstrate previous experience in as a Call Receiver/Dispatcher for law enforcement. Lateral qualifications, training requirements and starting salary range will be evaluated on a case by case basis.
NOTE:  It is a hiring requirement that all staff employed by KCSO successfully pass a thorough background investigations process, which includes fingerprinting, criminal history check, reference checks, polygraph test, and other tests as deemed necessary.  You must Review the list of KCSO Automatic Disqualifiers and verify your qualification for employment with King County Sheriff's Office.

This position is a civil service position, you can access these rules at Civil Service Rules.
INFORMATIONAL WORKSHOP (virtual): To assist you in deciding if this career choice is right for you, we will be offering two (2) virtual recruiting workshops where you can learn all about the hiring processes, expectations, and work in the 911 Communications Center.  

Registration is required, Send a message to  KCSO911Outreach@kingcounty.gov and include; 1) your full first and last name, 2) the email address you would like them to send the meeting link to, 3) the workshop date you would like to attend. Candidates who RSVP will be emailed a link to the online workshop prior to the event.

Upcoming workshop dates and times are: 
  • Tuesday, June 15th 5:00pm - 7:00pm (Pacific Time)
  • Saturday, June 26th 11:00am - 1:00pm (Pacific Time)


Job Duties

General job duties are as listed but not limited to the following:

  • Receive, prioritize, and route emergency and non-emergency calls (such as citizen concerns or complaints) from the public, transfer calls and calls received directly from other agencies.   
  • Enter non-emergent caller's information and dispatches according to priority or transfer/refer to the appropriate agency. Gather information from calling parties and enters the type, location, source and all information for emergency calls into Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) System.  
  • Triage emergency requests for assistance. Relay pertinent information between responders via radio. 
  • Assign emergency response priority by determining whether immediate response could save lives or prevent crimes.  
  • Route calls for assistance to the correct Dispatcher or appropriate agency, communicate with emergency agencies. 
  • Retrieve information from State and National computer networks regarding wanted persons, stolen property, vehicle registration, stolen vehicles, restraining orders, criminal histories, parolees and other related information; relay information to officers in the field 
  • Manage multiple radio frequencies and radio communications simultaneously 
  • Communicate effectively with confused, upset, hostile, or distraught people by phone, while gathering the information necessary to send the correct responders and equipment to the scene. 
  • Communication center employees may hear and need to respond to graphic descriptions of violence and/or injury.   
  • Record information and maintain required logs, event cards and other forms during periods of computer aided dispatch down time.

Experience, Qualifications, Knowledge, Skills

Successful candidates must demonstrate the ability to act calmly, quickly, and with accuracy in emergency situations on a continual basis and to multi-task complex situations within a short time period.  Candidates will need to demonstrate a minimum of one (1) year experience providing a high level of customer service and aptitude and skills to perform the primary duties, including:

  • Attention to detail and the ability to contextually shift from task to task is essential to the position
  • Strong organization, flexibility, and ability to control personal emotional responses and act appropriately under high levels of stress. 
  • Strong people skills and high level of customer service
  • Follow moderately complex oral and written instructions and to speak the English language clearly and quickly with a well-modulated voice 
  • Effectively communicate in write using English grammar, spelling, punctuation
  • Critical thinking skills, ability to act quickly in accordance with established policy and procedures and maintain composure under pressure.  
Candidates must have the ability to:

  • Comprehend the basic principles of and terminology applied to law enforcement and emergency management as applied to the operation of the communications center 
  • Simultaneously receive emergency calls, take charge of the conversation, and gather critical information 
  • Follow moderately complex oral and written instructions 
  • Establish effective working relationships with other employees and representatives of other emergency service provider agencies; and, interact with the public pleasantly and courteously, often under stressful conditions. 
  • Exhibit patience and remain calm and professional while questioning callers for whom English may be an additional language, callers who may be verbally abusive, emotionally upset, uncooperative or frightened 
  • Maintain composure and control under adverse conditions and to cope with calls and contacts firmly, courteously, confidentially, tactfully, and with respect for the rights of citizens. 
  • Be personable while successfully orchestrating and executing assigned tasks  
  • Establish and maintain effective working relationships with employees, law enforcement and the general public.  Use memory for details, verbal instructions,  
  • Exhibit composure and the ability to evaluate problems and apply sound judgment in a high stress, critical incident management environment.
  • Type 40 wpm accurately. Ability to learn current office software programs displayed on multiple computer screens  
  • Work variable shifts including day shifts, swing shift, graveyard shift, weekends and holidays.
  • Previous experience as a Call Receiver/Dispatcher for law enforcement 911 calls.
  • Experience communicating effectively and efficiently with the public in a fast-paced environment, under stressful conditions.
  • Knowledge of law enforcement terminology and/or experience in a public-safety setting.
  • Fluency in another languages such as those most common in King County: Spanish, Vietnamese, Somali, Russian, Chinese, Korean, Amharic, Arabic, Ukrainian)  
  • Call center experience 
  • Experience in the use of spreadsheets, and/or database management  
  • Typing speed of 55 words per minute or higher
  • Experience using multi-line phone systems. 
Physical Demands: Incumbent must function efficiently in an office environment for extended periods with no opportunity to leave the confines of the Communications Center. A Communications Specialist is considered an "essential employee," meaning they are required to work holidays, report for duty during adverse weather conditions, and be expected to work for long hours exceeding normally scheduled shifts in case of emergencies. The position is sedentary with periods of high levels of stress. This work requires use of the voice in vocal communications for periods of hours at a time. Voice must be clear, audible, and tone effective with words plainly spoken and understandable. Incumbent must be able to hear clearly and discern a variety of audible communications and signals simultaneously. Incumbent must be able to read critical information from multiple sources, including computer screen, fax, and written log quickly and accurately. The work is of an emergency nature and is emotionally stressful. Incumbent must possess manual dexterity sufficient to operate computer terminals/keyboards and related equipment and to maintain written logs.
  Requirements Upon Hire: 
  • Ability to maintain certification in ACCESS (state criminal database), NCIC (National Criminal Information Center) and WACIC (Washington Criminal Information Center) on a bi-annual basis is required.  
  • Ability to obtain additional licenses, certifications and other requirements determined to meet the business needs of the employing unit. 
  • One-year probationary period
Civil Service Recruitment Process:   The hiring and selection process is lengthy, requiring multiple months to complete. This is an open and continuous recruitment, meaning applications will be accepted and reviewed during the following intervals.
First Round - applications received May 28 – June 30, 2021
July - review applications/online skills testing
August/September - Oral Board interview and in-person skills testing
September - Eligibility Register

Second Round - applications received July 1 – August 9, 2021 
August - review applications
September - online skills testing
October - Oral Board interview and in-person skills testing

Candidates who pass all examinations will be placed on an eligibility list. Once the Eligibility List is certified, the background investigation begins. This is a 6-week to 3-month process.  A starting hire date will coincide with the start of a new training class. Trainings are estimated to take place in late 2021 and early 2022.

"CritiCall" Technical Exam:  The initial technical exam is only administered online due to coronavirus concerns. Qualified applicants will be sent a testing invitation link. To take the test, you will need a computer with a keyboard and mouse or trackpad, internet connection, and preferably headphones to use during the audio data entry sections. If you require an accommodation or need assistance to complete the online test, contact Brannon Mark at bmark@kingcounty.gov.

A Study Guide and practice test to the CritiCall exam can be found at: https://criticall911.com/documents/CritiCall_Candidate_Test_Preparation_Guide.pdf
TO APPLY: Please carefully review the list of required materials before submitting your application.
  • Complete application via governmentjobs.com. Applications must be complete. Do not use “see resume”, this will be considered an incomplete application and candidates will not be further considered. Complete answers to all the supplemental questions 
  • Resume and cover letter are not required but suggested. 
SELECTION PROCESS:  Application materials will be screened for clarity, completeness, and responsiveness to the list of qualifications, skills, and abilities.  Answers to supplemental questions will assist in determining your eligibility for further consideration.  The most competitive candidates may be invited to move forward in the hiring process.
  UNION AFFILIATION:  This position is represented by Teamsters, Local 763.
  CONTACT: If you have questions regarding this recruitment please contact: Brannon Mark at bmark@kingcounty.gov

Supplemental Information

Forbes recently named King County as one of Washington State's best employers.

Together, with leadership and our employees, we're changing the way government delivers service and winning national recognition as a model of excellence. Are you ready to make a difference? Come join the team dedicated to serving one of the nation's best places to live, work and play.
Guided by our "True North", we are making King County a welcoming community where every person can thrive. We value diversity, inclusion and belonging in our workplace and workforce. To reach this goal we are committed to workforce equity. Equitable recruiting, support, and retention is how we will obtain the highest quality workforce in our region; a workforce that shares and will help advance our guiding principles--we are one team; we solve problems; we focus on the customer; we drive for results; we are racially just; we respect all people; we lead the way; and we are responsible stewards. We encourage people of all backgrounds and identities to apply, including Native American and people of color, immigrants, refugees, women, LGBTQ+, people living with disabilities, and veterans.

Covid-19 Vaccination Requirement 
As of October 18, 2021, most* King County employees are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. If hired, you will be required to submit proof of vaccination by October 18th. People are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose in a two-dose series or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine. Employees may make requests for a reasonable accommodation based on a medical disability or for sincerely held religious beliefs. Philosophical, political, scientific, or sociological objections to vaccination will not be considered for an exemption or accommodation. This directive applies to employees in the Executive branch*, the Assessor’s Office, Elections, the King County Sheriff’s Office, and the Executive Office.

King County is an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Employer 
No person is unlawfully excluded from employment opportunities based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex (including gender identity, sexual orientation and pregnancy), age, genetic information, disability, veteran status, or other protected class. Our EEO policy applies to all employment actions, including but not limited to recruitment, hiring, selection for training, promotion, transfer, demotion, layoff, termination, rates of pay or other forms of compensation.

To Apply 
If you are interested in pursuing this position, please follow the application instructions carefully. If you need this announcement in an alternate language or format, would like to request accommodation or assistance in the application or assessment process or if you have questions please contact your recruiter listed on this job announcement.

King County offers a highly-competitive compensation and benefits package designed to meet the diverse needs of our employees and support our employees' health and well-being.  Eligible positions receive the following benefits and have access to the following programs:

  • Medical, dental, and vision coverage: King County pays 100% of the premiums for eligible employees and family members
  • Life and disability insurance: employees are provided basic coverage and given the opportunity to purchase additional insurance for both the employee and eligible dependents
  • Retirement: King County employees are eligible to participate in a pension plan through the Washington State Department of Retirement Systems and a 457(b) deferred-compensation plan
  • Transportation program and ORCA transit pass
  • 10 paid holidays each year (plus 2 personal holidays)
  • Generous vacation and paid sick leave
  • Paid parental leave, family and medical leaves, and volunteer leave
  • Flexible Spending Account
  • Wellness programs
  • Onsite gyms and activity centers
  • Employee giving program
  • Employee assistance programs
  • Flexible schedules and telecommuting options, depending on position
  • Training and career development programs
For additional information about employee benefits please visit our Benefits, Payroll, and Retirement Page.

This is a general description of the benefits offered to eligible King County employees, and every effort has been made to ensure its accuracy.  If any information on this document conflicts with the provisions of a collective bargaining agreement (CBA), the CBA prevails.  Also, in the event of any incorrect information in this document, applicable laws, policies, rules, CBAs, or official plan documents will prevail.
NOTE:  Benefits for Term Limited Temporary (TLT) or Short Term Temporary (STT) positions, including leave eligibility and/or participation in the pension plan through the Washington State Department of Retirement Systems, will vary based upon the terms and details of the position. Short Term Temporary positions are not eligible for an ORCA transit pass.
For inquiries about the specifics of this position, please contact the recruiter identified on this job posting.

You must be a current US Citizen or Legal Permanent Resident to apply for civil service positions with the King County Sheriff's Office. Are you now a United States citizen?
  • Yes
  • No
Can you read, write and speak the English language?
  • Yes
  • No
The background of all King County Sheriff's Office employees and applicants are thoroughly checked. The required background investigation will review and evaluate driving records, criminal records, employment histories, military records, personal and employment references, and related information. A polygraph examination is also required. Are you willing to undergo a background investigation and polygraph examination as part of the employment process?
  • Yes
  • No
How many years experience do you have providing a high level of customer service?
  • None
  • Less than one year
  • One to two years
  • Two to three years
  • Over three years
How many years experience do you have performing work that requires organization, flexibility, and attention to detail
  • None
  • Less than one year
  • One to two years
  • Two to three years
  • Over three years
Do you have Lateral 911 Call Receiver/Dispatcher experience? Note, to be considered a Lateral, primary experience must be in law enforcement?
  • Yes
  • No
If you answered "Yes" to Lateral experience, please provide the length of your experience. (If none, select N/A)
  • N/A
  • Less than one year
  • One to two years
  • Two to three years
  • Over three years
Which of the desirable qualifications do you possess? You may select more than one. If none, select N/A.
  • N/A
  • Work experience in a fast-paced and multi-tasked public contact environment or a public-safety environment.
  • Previous experience in a public-safety setting
  • Fluency in one or more languages other than English
  • Call center experience
  • Experience in the use of spreadsheets, and/or database management
  • Typing speed of 55 words per minute or higher
Do you meet any of the automatic disqualifiers pertaining to DRUGS: •As an adult, convicted of any drug crime, felony or misdemeanor •Use of mushrooms within the last three (3) years •Use of hallucinogens (includes GHB & ecstasy; excludes mushrooms), cocaine, methamphetamine, or opiates within the last ten (10) years •Use of any other illegal drug, including steroids, within the last five (5) years •Illegal use of four (4) or more different controlled substances, including marijuana, in the last ten (10) years •Any instance of manufacturing or cultivating illegal drugs for the purpose of sale or distribution •Use of any illegal drugs while employed in a criminal justice capacity •Obtaining a prescription under false pretenses •Any instance of illegally injected amphetamines, methamphetamines, cocaine, heroin, barbiturates, or valium •Any instance of illegally using a drug after submitting an application to any Law Enforcement agency •Marijuana use will reviewed on a case-by-case basis; however, in order to increase the likelihood of continuing on in the hiring and background process, an applicant should not have used Marijuana in the last 12 months
  • Yes
  • No
Do you meet any of the automatic disqualifiers pertaining to DRIVING: •Conviction of Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol within the last ten (10) years •Conviction of Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol more than once •As an adult, conviction of Attempting to Elude, or Hit and Run •As an adult, conviction of Reckless or Negligent Driving 1st degree in in the last 5 years •Driving While License Suspended/Revoked, reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
  • Yes
  • No
Do you meet any of the automatic disqualifiers pertaining to MILITARY: •Any discharge from any military service other than honorable will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis •A dishonorable discharge remains an automatic disqualifier.
  • Yes
  • No
Do you meet any of the automatic disqualifiers pertaining to CRIMINAL ACTIVITY: •Any adult felony convictions •Any adult misdemeanor conviction for crimes involving theft or crimes of violence •Conviction of Minor In Possession of Alcohol within the last three (3) years •Any conviction for a sex related crime •Any instance of required registration as a sex offender, regardless of conviction status •Any conviction for solicitation of prostitution.
  • Yes
  • No
Any conviction for any crime classified as Domestic Violence?
  • Yes
  • No

Required Question