Emergency call handler

Career outlook for emergency call handler

Figures and forecasts for roles at the same level, which require similar skills and qualifications.

Average UK salary


Currently employed in Scotland


Average UK salary


Currently employed in Scotland


"LMI for All" supplies our salary and employment status information. "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures.

Due to COVID-19 the jobs market is constantly changing. Some of the information may not reflect the current situation.

What's it like?

You would answer 999 calls from people in medical emergencies.

You would get as much information from the caller as possible to ensure that the call is managed in the right way and that the most appropriate resource can be sent as quickly as possible.

You would record essential information including the exact location and details of what has happened and log it electronically.

The callers may be members of the public, the NHS 24 service, a doctor or a hospital.

As a call handler you would answer the calls, record the information and then pass it to an emergency dispatcher.

You might need to keep the person calm to get all the information you need. You would be speaking to people facing life-threatening situations. You would give them advice and help people until an ambulance arrives.

You would need to work quickly and often under a lot of pressure. You will be trained to explain complex procedures over the telephone, often to deliver lifesaving advice, for example guiding someone to perform CPR or to deliver a baby.  

Most jobs are in the National Health Service (NHS), working for the Scottish Ambulance Service

The NHS salary for these roles are covered by the Agenda for Change pay rates. You can check the salary for this role on the NHS Careers website.

Working conditions


You would work shifts, including evenings and weekends, providing cover 24 hours a day, seven days a week (including public holidays).


You would be based in a control room as part of a team, and you would work under a supervisor. This is a busy and often stressful job, but it can also be very rewarding.

UK employment status





Self employed


Here are some of the skills needed for this job. Sign in to see how your skills match up.

  • Resilience
  • Cooperating
  • Listening
  • Verbal communication
  • Problem solving
  • Observation
  • Questioning
  • Empathising
  • Developing a plan

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you’ll need.


There are no formal qualifications required to get into the role but a good general education is valued.

Useful subjects

  • English
  • Maths
  • Science subjects
  • Care

You will also need

To pass the Ambulance Service entrance test, including a typing test - 30 words a minute -, listening test and response test. 

Helpful to have

Any qualifications and experiences that demonstrate understanding of the health sector, good administration and communication skills and the ability to remain calm under pressure, such as:

  • Skills for Work - Health & Social Care (SCQF level 6)
  • Scottish Vocational Qualification in Customer Services (SVQ level 2/3)