Emergency Medical Dispatcher Certification

Emergency medical dispatchers field 911 calls, provide relevant medical instruction during those calls and notify emergency response teams. Read on for more information about certification, job outlook and salary info. Schools offering Fire & Emergency Services degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Emergency Medical Dispatcher Certification: What Is It?

There are different types of certifications for emergency medical dispatchers; however, all are a state-regulated form of work authorization and credentialing. Most U.S. states have varying certification, licensure or registration requirements. In some instances, the terms 'certification' and 'licensure' are used interchangeably among states. Emergency medical dispatchers are also referred to as 911 operators, emergency dispatchers, emergency telephone communicators and 911 dispatchers.

Job TitlesEmergency telephone communicators, 911 dispatchers, emergency dispatchers, 911 operators
CertificationAvailable through the National Academies of Emergency Dispatch
Median Salary (2018)$40,660 for police, fire, and ambulance dispatchers

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

How Do I Get Certified?

You will first need to meet your state's prerequisites for certification/licensure, which typically includes completion of an emergency dispatcher training program that meets curriculum standards established by government agencies. These programs are offered through community colleges, trade groups, vocational schools and private businesses. Programs lengths also vary; some may take a year to complete, and others can be completed in only weeks. Your curriculum may include training on managing crisis intervention, handling various types of callers and following dispatching protocols. You may also receive instruction on different kinds of radio, telephone and computer technologies used for emergency dispatching.

Upon meeting your certification prerequisites, you would usually submit an application, supporting documents (e.g., proof of training) and related fees to the appropriate state government agency. Once your application has been approved, you will receive information about your certification examination. Your exam will test you on knowledge and skills needed to perform the duties of an emergency dispatcher. You will be given your certification upon passing your examination.

At the national level, you could earn certification through the National Academies of Emergency Dispatch (NAED). Certification through NAED is a requirement to use the Priority Dispatch Systems developed by NAED, including the Medical, Fire and Police Priority Dispatch Systems (www.naemd.org). The NAED offers certification courses to prepare you for the Emergency Medical Dispatcher (EMD) exam. You could also earn Emergency Telecommunicator certification through the NAED. You'll need CPR training in order to complete the certification courses.

What Is My Job Outlook?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the employment rate for police, fire and ambulance dispatchers was expected to growth by 8% from 2016-2026 (www.bls.gov). In 2018, the median salary of emergency dispatchers was $40,660. Your specific salary will be contingent on various factors, such as your experience and your geographic location.

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