Choosing an online program for dispatcher courses may prove difficult, as options are limited. A finite number of programs for emergency dispatching and flight dispatching can be found with the right amount of research.
How to Select an Online Dispatcher School
Dispatchers work in many industries, including transportation and emergency services. Students should weigh the type of training with the program structure.
Type of Dispatcher Training
Emergency dispatcher and aircraft dispatcher certificate programs are among the very few online dispatcher programs available. Although aircraft dispatcher training programs are not accredited, they are approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). There are also a limited number of continuing education courses available for emergency medical, fire and police dispatching. Standalone Spanish language courses for emergency dispatchers is also available.
Online programs in both emergency and aircraft dispatchers are available in a hybrid format. Online learning takes place first, followed by on-site lab simulations to practice actual dispatching techniques. Prospective students should be aware that although online work can be done at a student's convenience, on-site classes have set schedules and attendance requirements.
List of Online Dispatcher Programs
Emergency Dispatch Certificate
Emergency dispatchers respond to 911 calls for medical, fire and police help. They quickly and accurately assess situations and respond with the appropriate assistance. Emergency dispatchers need to think clearly under pressure and to have good relationship and communication skills.
An emergency dispatch program combines online learning, which can be completed at the student's convenience, with evening lab simulation classes offered on campus. The entire program takes about six months to complete, and graduates are eligible to sit for a national test to become a Certified Emergency Telecommunicator. The program culminates with hands-on practice in a simulated 911 command center. There, students learn to evaluate and handle emergency calls, using state-of-the-art communications technology. Online topics include:
- Law enforcement operations
- Victims of crime and trauma
- Stress management
- Criminal justice fundamentals
Aircraft Dispatch Certificate
Aircraft dispatchers, also known as flight dispatchers, work from a command center on the ground, working with airplane captains to ensure safe takeoffs and landings. They coordinate many flights simultaneously by creating flight plans, releasing planes to fly and monitoring flights in progress. They are authorized to cancel or delay flights when safety is at risk.
Flight dispatchers receive rigorous training commensurate with the importance of their job. Available options include online hybrid programs leading to FAA certification. Students are encouraged to pass the FAA Aircraft Dispatcher computer knowledge exam prior to program enrollment.
Upon completion of online coursework, students spend several weeks onsite using simulators to practice flight dispatching. They must incorporate weather interpretation, flight plans, aircraft balance and ground-to-air communications. FAA certification exams are given at the end of the program, and those who pass are eligible for employment as aircraft dispatchers. Online classes take about four months to complete, and include training in:
- Regulatory requirements
- Aircraft systems and operations
- Aeronautical chart-reading
- Emergency and abnormal procedures
Schools with Online Programs in Dispatching
The Sheffield School of Aeronautics offers an accelerated flight dispatcher course, which consists of online training followed by a week's residency at its facility in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.The online aspect of the course will take about three to four months, which does not include any time dedicated to studying for the ADX test.
Arapahoe Community College, meanwhile, has an emergency dispatch program that contains online classes that can be taken anytime with lab simulations in the evenings. There are only five courses needed to earn a certificate, and students could start a new job in as little as six months. After completion, students are also eligible to take the national certification exam to become a Certified Emergency Telecommunicator.
Online dispatching school programs are sparse in number, and, depending on the specific type of dispatching, students may need to attend part of their courses in person.