Emergency Dispatch Certification


Emergency dispatchers are often certified. There are two main types of certification: governmental and third party. State certification is another word for licensing. Some states certify workers who meet training mandates and clear background screening; there may be examination requirements as well.

Third party certification is more common. Dispatchers may pursue certification through various respected organizations. Certification may be mandated by hiring agencies even when it is not required at the state level.

Sometimes certification is also required for higher level roles such as quality assurance. Career-focused dispatchers may also opt to go through a more comprehensive advanced certification process to show that they have expertise well above the entry level. The following is a look at some of the better known third party certifications.

Entry-Level Certifications

Among the most frequently cited certifications at the entry level are basic telecommunicator certification and emergency medical dispatch certification. Certification is based on taking the required training and demonstrating that the content has been mastered.

Basic telecommunicator certification represents about 40 hours, or five days, of training. It includes content relevant to each of the major types of emergency dispatch. Among the best known providers are APCO International and the International Academies of Emergency Dispatch, or IAED; the latter is sometimes referred to as the NAED. The APCO certification is known as Public Safety Telecommunicator; the IAED certification, Emergency Telecommunicator.

Emergency medical dispatch is frequently mandated at the state or agency level. Certification should meet standards of the U.S. Department of Transportation. There are multiple providers; the agency will likely specify a particular one. Again, IAED and APCO certifications are among the best known; the National Emergency Communications Institute (NECI) is another.

EMD certificates holders must also have CPR certification; while an EMD is not typically in a position to administer CPR, he or she may need to advise callers about CPR while they wait for the response team.

The IAED offers entry-level certifications in each major discipline of 911 dispatch: Emergency Medical Dispatch (EMD), Emergency Fire Dispatch, (EFD), and Emergency Police Dispatch (EPD). Each certification is dependent on completing 24 hours of approved education, then passing an examination. Other providers, such as PowerPhone, offer similar certifications, though they may use other titles such as “fire services” or “law enforcement”.

Police dispatchers may find that certification in use of criminal databases is more fundamental than emergency police or law enforcement dispatch. This type of certification goes by different names in different states; employing agencies should be able to provide the details.

You may want to read this article “How to Become a 911 Emergency Dispatcher” to find more specific information about the requirements in your state.

Supervisory Level Certifications

Professional organizations also offer brief training-based certifications designed for professionals in supervisory and managerial roles. For example, the National Emergency Numbers Association offers a Center Manager Certification Program, based on a 40-hour program developed by experienced 911 center managers (https://www.nena.org/page/CenterManagerCert). The IAED offers a quality assurance certification called ED-Q; there are separate 16 hour training programs for each of the three major emergency dispatch disciplines. APCO International offers the Communications Training Officer Certification, among others.

Some emergency communications professionals will need to pursue training in the National Incident Management System (NIMS); this is through the federal government.

The value of particular certifications will depend on the employing PSAP as well as the intended job role.

Professional Certifications

NENA offers an additional certification to experienced emergency professionals: the Emergency Numbers Professional, or ENP. It rewards expertise and in this regard, is more similar to the “board certification” that professionals in many disciplines pursue. Emergency dispatchers may pursue the ENP credential when they are ready to vie for higher level positions.

Certification is by examination. However, candidates cannot be approved for examination until they have demonstrated a certain level of accomplishment. They must have three years of experience in the field. They must also accrue points through education, qualifying professional development, or education. An associate’s degree is worth two points; a bachelor’s, four points; a master’s six. Each year of experience beyond the minimum three years is credited as one point.

APCO International offers a Register Public-Safety Leader (RPL) credential. Over the course of the year-long program, an individual must complete a service project.