Dispatcher Certification and Certificate Programs

Both emergency and aircraft dispatcher certificate programs highlight core areas, including telecommunications, equipment training, and dispatcher procedures. Hands-on learning may occur through simulation exercises.

Essential Information

Certificate programs equip prospective workers with the skills and knowledge to take a certification exam. Emergency dispatcher programs prepare students to work with first responders and other emergency personnel in the event of fires, car accidents, and other urgent situations. Aircraft dispatcher certificate programs prepare students to meet Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requirements as dispatchers for airplanes and other aircraft. Enrolling in either kind of program requires that the applicant meets typing speed requirements and some also require a high school diploma or GED.

Emergency Dispatcher Certificate

In an emergency dispatcher certificate program, students learn 911 procedures, terminology, and requirements. They are taught how to handle high stress situations and to remain calm under pressure. Students learn basic telecommunications procedures and how to operate emergency dispatch equipment. Most programs take less than a year to complete.

These programs combine classroom study with simulation programs to give students an opportunity to practice what they have learned. Topics may include:

  • Radio procedures
  • Telephone skills and procedures
  • Dispatch operations and medical dispatching
  • Law enforcement communications
  • Communication technology
  • Emergency services

Aircraft Dispatcher Certificate

Aircraft dispatcher certificate programs teach the technical skills needed to operate air dispatch equipment and to communicate effectively as part of a flight team. Courses in an aircraft dispatcher certificate program cover the basics of flight patterns, navigation, weather, and aircraft operation. Students are taught about the aircraft they are dispatching and the conditions that may occur during a flight that may require dispatch intervention. These programs also contain simulator instruction to provide hands-on experience for students. Course topics may include:

  • Aircraft systems
  • Aviation law
  • Air safety
  • Dispatching procedures
  • Pilot ground training
  • Instrument training

Popular Career Options

Emergency dispatcher programs train students to work in 911 operations centers. Students may also work as a dispatcher for other emergency operations. Possible employers include:

  • Police stations
  • Fire departments
  • Ambulance services

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), about 24,500 jobs were held by air traffic controllers in 2014. Most of these jobs were with the FAA. The BLS projected a job decrease of 9% from 2014-2024. In May 2015, the BLS reported the median annual wage for air traffic controllers was $122,950. According to the BLS, police, fire, and ambulance dispatchers could expect to see a job decline of 3% between 2014-2024. The median salary for these same employees was $38,010 in May 2015.

Continuing Education Information

According to the BLS, states typically have licensing or certification requirements for emergency dispatchers. States usually require a specific amount of training and certification or licensing test for emergency dispatchers. To earn the FAA aircraft dispatcher certificate, written and practical tests are required. The FAA also requires that applicants are at least 23 years old, meet experience requirements, and complete an approved training course.


To recap, both emergency and aircraft dispatcher certificate programs teach students the knowledge and skills they need to get certified and work in the fields.

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