I am interested in being a Dispatcher with the local Sheriff's Department or with CALFIRE. Is there a major difference in work environment between the two? I figured the Sheriff's Department would give me more experience as far as multitasking is concerned.
Do you know specifically what Departments are looking for in candidates?
Each depertment looks for what they believe are good traits in candidates. There isn't really any magic formula. I don't know what CALFIRE is, but based on the name I'm guessing it's a fire only center...I could be wrong. The Sheriff's deprtment may be PD only or combo, you'll have to ask to be sure.
I would suggest requesting to do a sit-a-long in each agency to check out the working environments and see which one suits you. This gives you a chance to observe and ask questions. It also gives you a chance to make sure this is something you CAN and WANT to do.
Multitasking can take place in any size center regardless of what responsibilities they have.
Im not sure about your area, but I know that any experience with the agencies in which you will be dispatching is good. It is helpful to understand what is happening on both sides of the radio. Also, especially in the Sheriff's Department, a clean background is required.
I agree with the previous poster on sitting in the dispatch centers in which you are interested in. This way you can find out if this is really what you want to do. Ask a lot of questions, including what those agencies look for in a candidate and any minimum requirements. If you decide you are truly interested, find out what dispatching courses are available to you. You may be able to get into a Basic Telecommunicator course through APCO or something of that nature. That would also look good for you. Good luck to ya!