Emergency Dispatcher Training Programs and Education Requirements

On-the-job training, certificate programs and certification courses are important ways in which aspiring emergency dispatchers develop necessary communication and management skills. These programs prepare individuals to handle high-stress situations appropriately.

Essential Information

The National Academies of Emergency Dispatch (NAED) ( offers a 40-hour certification program for beginning emergency dispatchers addressing technologies, procedures and management skills applicable to this field. Emergency dispatcher courses and programs are also available at some community colleges and police academies. Many of these programs are designed to follow that of the NAED 40-hour certification program, which is regarded as the standard in the industry.

  • Program Levels in Emergency Dispatching: Certificate programs
  • Program Length: 2-3 terms for certificate programs
  • Prerequisites: High school diploma

Emergency Dispatcher Certificate

College emergency dispatcher certificate programs are generally 2- to 3-term programs. Some programs might involve students riding with emergency personnel or participate in community emergency preparedness activities. Completion of a certificate program qualifies one to take NAED certification exams. Course topics typically include:

  • Call taking techniques
  • Emergency medical dispatching
  • Communications
  • Stress management
  • Criminal law
  • Crisis intervention

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Police, fire and ambulance dispatchers make a mean annual wage of $39,410 as of May 2014, according to the BLS. Employment for these careers is expected to grow 8% from 2012-2022, which is as fast as average.

Continuing Education

NAED currently offers several certifications in the field of emergency dispatching. Certification courses and exams are given in the areas of emergency medical dispatching (EMD), emergency fire dispatching (EFD), emergency telecommunications (ETC) and emergency priority dispatching (EPD). CPR certification is a prerequisite to medical dispatching certification. The ED-Q certification program addresses systems used in medical, police or fire dispatching. This program is open to those already holding an EMD, EFD or EPD certification.

NAED holds an annual conference presenting workshops, meetings and networking opportunities for emergency dispatchers. Some colleges offer law enforcement workshops which include sessions or seminars for emergency dispatchers. Seminar topics might include stress management, customer service and civil liabilities relating to emergency dispatching.

Continuing education requirements must be met in order to sustain NAED certifications. For most certification types, 24-30 hours of continuing education must be taken every two years. Continuing education can be in the form of classroom instruction, seminars or workshops. Certified emergency dispatchers must also be recertified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) every two years to maintain the EMD or EMD-Q certification.

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