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911 Dispatcher Requirements in New Jersey

New Jersey has set statewide training standards for telecommunicators who work at Public Safety Answer Points, or PSAPs; these are the centers where 911 calls are first received. In some cases, these training mandates also apply to dispatchers who work at Public Safety Dispatch Points, or PSDPs.

Some mandates relate to a specific type of emergency dispatch: Emergency Medical Dispatch (EMD). EMDs dispatch emergency medical services and also carry out pre-arrival protocols.

Mandated training may take place over a course of days. An individual can be hired as a trainee before completing training, though some hiring agencies may state a preference for individuals who already hold certification.

Before hire, the individual will need to meet requirements set by the individual agency. In many cases, this is a governmental authority. A majority of New Jersey’s PSAPs and PSDPs operate at the county level. A majority are in law enforcement agencies, though there are various possible settings, including colleges. Some dispatchers work for the state police. Some work for health systems. In some settings, an individual will answer emergency and non-emergency calls or will perform dispatch and other security-related duties.

Higher education, such as an associate's or bachelor's degree, may offer additional opportunities and status in the Emergency Dispatcher field.

Select a New Jersey 911 Dispatcher Topic:

Meeting Entry-Level Requirements

Dispatchers typically need a high school diploma or GED. Occasionally, an employer will state a preference for individuals who have had some college coursework. Occasionally, an EMD service will state a preference for individuals who have had experience as emergency medical technicians.

The public safety dispatcher will need a broad skill set, whatever his or her educational level. The New Jersey Civil Service Commission lists job titles and basic requirements for state and local civil service positions. Skills include interacting with people in difficult circumstances, applying laws and regulations, operating programs and equipment, preparing reports and data, and communicating effectively. The knowledge base includes local geography as well as police, fire, and medical terminology, communications equipment, dispatch procedures, emergency management procedures, and chains of command.

Bilingualism can be a plus. Some job codes are used only for those who are bilingual in Spanish and English.

A prospective telecommunicator may need to take a typing test and/ or aptitude test.

Telecommunicator Training Requirements

Dispatchers who work at PSAPs must complete approved telecommunicator courses. Courses cover, at minimum, the following content:

  • Interpersonal communication
  • Telecommunicator public safety role
  • Telecommunicator systems
  • Telephone techniques
  • Radio broadcasting
  • Emergency medical services function
  • Fire services function
  • Police services function
  • Enhanced 911 systems
  • Public safety record keeping
  • Legal issues

The Commission has provided a list of approved training programs (http://www.nj.gov/911/instructor/). As of 2015, the list includes courses by the following providers:

  • Association of Public Safety Communications Officials (APCO)
  • International Academy of Emergency Dispatch (IAED)
  • National Emergency Communications Institute (NECI)

All three providers are approved to offer programs at physical locations. APCO also offers an approved online telecommunicator training program. The APCO certification is termed ‘Public Safety Telecommunicator’; the IAED certification, ‘Emergency Telecommunicator’, the NECI course, ‘Basic 9-1-1’.

Courses may be offered through various sponsors, for example, Jersey Shore Safety Consultants.

A list of upcoming classes is available on the website (http://www.state.nj.us/911/home/highlights/classes.html). The list may not include all courses.

A dispatcher will need eight hours of training a year to maintain New Jersey certification.

According to state administrative code, dispatchers who staff PSDPs may be certified by or may complete local training programs specific to the type of dispatch they provide; this may be fire, police or emergency medical services (http://www.state.nj.us/911/resource/reg/index.html#3).

A basic telecommunicator program is about 40 hours, or one week.

Some agencies have their own training programs in place. These may be significantly longer. The New Jersey State Police Operational Dispatch Bureau has a five week training program (http://www.newjersey.gov/njoem/odb.html).

Additional Requirements for Emergency Medical Dispatchers

In many cases, Emergency Medical Dispatch (EMD) certification will be required as well. The State of New Jersey requires employees of PSAPs to hold EMD certification. There is an exception: when a PSAP directly transfers emergency medical calls to a PDSP that does employ certified staff.

The New Jersey Office of Emergency Telecommunications Services has approved four training vendors. Medical dispatchers may be certified by APCO, IAED, or NECI or by the New Jersey Office of Emergency Telecommunications Services (NJOETS) itself. NECI certification is termed ‘EMD Communications Officer’. Most other certifications are termed ‘Emergency Medical Dispatcher’.

The employing agency will likely have a particular vendor that it utilizes.

An EMD will need to recertify periodically. He or she will use the vendor's recertification program if there is one in place. Otherwise, recertification will be through NJOETS.

The emergency medical dispatcher will need to hold CPR certification through the American Heart Association, the American Red Cross, or the National Safety Council.

Call-takers or dispatchers who are not certified as EMDs may substitute in cases of illness or emergency. However, they will still need to meet requirements described in state administrative code (http://www.nj.gov/911/resource/reg/index.html).

Long-Term Career Opportunities

Dispatch is part of a much broader field: emergency management.

Skilled dispatchers may move into supervisory positions on the strength of experience and of skills attained on the job or through continuing education or academic coursework.

Higher level positions in emergency communications and emergency management typically require degrees. Public administration and emergency management are among the options.

Additional Information

Information about emergency dispatch requirements is available from the Office of Emergency Telecommunications Services (http://www.nj.gov/911/resource). The OETS has provided a staff directory (http://www.nj.gov/911/contact/).

The New Jersey Chapter of the National Emergency Numbers Association is an additional professional resource (http://njnena.org).