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Emergency Dispatch Training Program and Certification

As an emergency dispatcher, you can work for a variety of healthcare or correctional departments. Most of the training is on the job, and you may need professional certification. Continue reading to find information on training programs, including specializations, and what your job will entail.

What Training and Certification Options Are Available in Emergency Dispatch?

You can usually become an emergency dispatcher with a minimal amount of formal education. However, you'll usually need an extensive amount of on-the-job training, and you might require some type of certification. Though you could be required to obtain certification offered through your state health department or a professional organization for your job, you might also need to earn CPR certification to complete some training programs.

Training outside of job experience can include campus, on-site and online classes, seminars and certificate programs through community colleges, vocational schools, state employment services and professional organizations. For example, the National Academies of Emergency Dispatch (NAED) offers emergency dispatcher certifications and training courses for medical, fire and police dispatchers.

Training Program TypesWorkshops, seminars, standalone classes, certificates
SpecializationsLocal, state and federal law enforcement system certifications available
Course TopicsProcedures, communication, legal responsibilities, anatomy
Job DutiesCall coordination, emotional support, logistics handling, working under pressure
Median Salary (2018) $40,660 (for all police, fire, and ambulance dispatchers)  
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 8% growth (for all police, fire, and ambulance dispatchers)  

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 

What Kind of Specializations Are There?

In addition to the specialized medical, fire and police certifications offered by NAED, you can also obtain certification that demonstrates your proficiency in using local (REJIS), state (MULES) or federal (NCIC) law enforcement systems. Professional organizations, private institutes and state agencies also offer training and certification if you want to become 9-1-1 dispatcher. Training requirements and qualifications for the various specializations vary, and recertification, continuing education and retesting options are also available for most programs.

What Can I Learn in a Training Program?

Your courses and training depend primarily on the type of dispatch program. You'll typically learn your legal responsibilities and liability issues when working as a dispatcher. Programs could use role playing to familiarize you with procedures and teach you how to simultaneously communicate with a caller while entering information and determining where to find the nearest assistance. Topics discuss the most common types of calls, best practices for obtaining caller information and an overview of anatomy to help you adequately assess a problem and provide intermediary help.

What Would My Duties Be?

To work in emergency dispatch, you must be a quick thinker and work well under pressure. As an emergency dispatcher, you'll be responsible for the coordination of calls, both emergency and non-emergency, and you'll need to handle the logistics of the department in which you work. For example, if you work as an emergency dispatcher for a police department, you'll need to be aware of the location of all on-duty officers and alert them of arising situations as the calls come in.

The job and types of calls change daily, so you'll have to be alert and prepared for any situation you could be faced with. Emergency dispatchers must also be able to talk to agitated, panicked and upset people and know the procedures for obtaining immediate action and help.