Dispatchers Training Programs and Schools

Jan 15, 2024

9 Min Read

1. What types of training programs are available for dispatchers?

1. On-the-Job Training: This type of training is conducted by senior dispatchers or trainers within the department. It involves learning through observation, hands-on experience, and guidance from experienced dispatchers.

2. Classroom Training: Dispatchers may attend formal classes at a training facility or online to learn skills such as radio communication techniques, call processing, handling emergency situations, stress management, and computer aided dispatch (CAD) systems.

3. Simulator Training: Some departments use simulators to provide real-life scenarios for trainees to practice their skills in a controlled environment. This can help them gain practical experience without being in an actual emergency situation.

4. Field Training: Once classroom and simulator training are completed, new dispatchers may shadow experienced dispatchers while they work on duty for a period of time. This allows trainees to apply their knowledge in real-time situations while receiving feedback and guidance from more experienced dispatchers.

5. Continuing Education: Many departments offer ongoing training opportunities for dispatchers to keep their skills updated and to learn about new technologies or procedures in the field.

6. Cross-Training: Some departments may cross-train their dispatchers in other emergency response roles such as police or fire services to have a better understanding of overall operations and enhance teamwork during joint emergencies.

7. Certification Programs: There are various certifications available for dispatchers such as the National Emergency Number Association (NENA) Emergency Telecommunicator Certification Program, which provides standardized training and certification for 911 dispatchers.

8. Specialized Training: Depending on the needs of the department, specialized training programs may be offered for specific types of emergencies such as active shooter situations, natural disasters, or medical emergencies.

9. Peer-to-Peer Training: Some departments may have a peer-to-peer training program where experienced dispatchers mentor new hires through one-on-one coaching sessions to help them develop key skills.

10. Online Courses/ Webinars: Many dispatch centers offer online courses or webinars on various topics related to dispatching, which can be completed at the individual’s own pace and convenience. These courses may cover topics such as emergency response procedures, stress management, and communication skills.

2. How long do these training programs typically last?

The duration of training programs can vary greatly depending on the specific field or industry, level of expertise being taught, and individual program structures. Some training programs may be as short as a few days or weeks, while others may span several months to a year. For example, vocational or technical training programs may last anywhere from a few months to two years, while professional development courses or leadership programs may range from a few days to several weeks. Additionally, apprenticeships and on-the-job training can last several years. It is best to research specific programs to determine their estimated duration.

3. Are there any prerequisites or qualifications required to enroll in a dispatcher training program?

Some dispatcher training programs may require a high school diploma or equivalent, as well as passing a background check and drug test. Other programs may not have any formal prerequisites or qualifications, but may require certain skills such as strong communications and critical thinking abilities. It is best to check with the specific program you are interested in for their specific requirements.

4. Can someone become a dispatcher without any prior experience or education in the field?

It is possible for someone to become a dispatcher without prior experience or education in the field, but most dispatchers do receive some form of training or have related experience. Some agencies may hire and provide on-the-job training to individuals who meet certain criteria, such as having a high school diploma or GED and passing a background check. Other agencies may require candidates to have a college degree or previous experience in customer service, emergency response, or a related field.

5. Are there different levels or specialties within dispatcher training programs?

Yes, there are typically different levels or specialties within dispatcher training programs. Some common specializations within dispatcher training include police dispatching, fire and rescue dispatching, emergency medical services (EMS) dispatching, and 911 call taking. These specializations may require additional training or certification beyond the basic dispatcher training program. Additionally, some agencies may provide advanced or specialized training in areas such as crisis management, disaster response, and communication skills.

6. How is the curriculum structured in a dispatcher training program?

A dispatcher training program typically consists of a combination of classroom learning and hands-on training. The curriculum is structured to cover a range of topics relevant to the role of a dispatcher, such as communication skills, emergency procedures, geographical knowledge, and technical skills.

1) Introduction to Dispatching: This section introduces students to the basic concepts and responsibilities of dispatchers, including their role in emergency response and how they communicate with different agencies and individuals.

2) Communication Skills: Effective communication is crucial for dispatchers, and this section focuses on developing clear and concise communication skills through written and verbal exercises.

3) Emergency Procedures: Dispatchers are often the first point of contact during emergencies, so this section covers protocols for handling various emergency situations, including natural disasters, accidents, and criminal incidents.

4) Geography: Dispatchers need a solid understanding of geography to quickly identify locations on maps or GPS systems. This part covers map reading skills, use of GPS technology, and local road systems.

5) Technical Skills: Dispatchers rely on various tools such as computer-aided dispatching (CAD), radios, phone systems, and databases. Students will learn how to operate these tools efficiently in order to gather information and route resources effectively.

6) Stress Management: Being a dispatcher can be emotionally demanding due to the nature of the job. This section trains students on techniques for managing stress in high-pressure situations.

7) On-the-Job Training: Many programs also include hands-on experience in simulated dispatch environments or through internships. This helps students practice their skills under realistic conditions before entering the workforce.

The curriculum may also include specific topics depending on the type of dispatching being taught (e.g., police vs. fire department), state laws and protocols related to dispatching services, record-keeping and documentation methods, familiarization with specialized computer software programs used by dispatch centers, among others.

7. Is there a practical component to the training, such as simulated scenarios or hands-on experience?

Yes, most training programs have a practical component, such as simulated scenarios or hands-on experience. This is important in order for trainees to apply their knowledge in real-life situations and gain practical skills. Practical components can vary depending on the specific training program, but they may include role-playing exercises, group discussions, case studies, and hands-on activities. These elements provide trainees with an opportunity to practice and refine their skills in a safe and controlled environment before applying them in a real-world setting.

8. Are there specific software systems or equipment that will be taught in the training program?

The software systems and equipment taught in a training program will vary depending on the specific program and its goals. Some common software systems that may be taught include Microsoft Office Suite (Word, Excel, PowerPoint), Adobe Creative Suite (Photoshop, InDesign), project management tools, accounting software such as QuickBooks, Salesforce customer relationship management system, and coding languages such as HTML and CSS.

Equipment that may be taught in a training program can also vary depending on the industry and job role being trained for. Examples of equipment that may be covered could include computer hardware, printers, scanners, projectors, cash registers or point-of-sale systems, medical devices, or industrial machinery. Ultimately, the specific software systems and equipment covered in a training program will depend on the needs of the students and their career goals.

9. How much does a typical dispatcher training program cost and are there financial aid options available?

The cost of a typical dispatcher training program can vary greatly depending on the institution and location. Some programs may cost several thousand dollars while others may be more affordable. To get a better idea of the cost, it is recommended to research specific programs at various schools.

Financial aid options may be available for those who qualify, such as grants, scholarships, or loans. It is best to check with the school offering the training program to see what options they have available for students. Some programs may also offer payment plans or employer sponsorship opportunities.

10. Are there online and remote options for completing a dispatcher training program?

Yes, there are online and remote options for completing a dispatcher training program. Many schools and training programs offer online courses that can be completed at your own pace and from the comfort of your own home. These programs may include live video lectures, interactive assignments, and virtual simulations to provide a comprehensive learning experience. Additionally, some agencies may offer remote training programs for their dispatchers, allowing them to complete the necessary training while working from a remote location.

11. What certifications can be obtained through completing a dispatching training program?

Some possible certifications that can be obtained through completing a dispatching training program include:

1. Emergency Medical Dispatcher (EMD)
2. Public Safety Telecommunicator (PST)
3. Fire and Police Emergency Communications Specialist
4. 911 Dispatcher
5. National Academy of Emergency Dispatch (NAED) certifications such as Emergency Telecommunicator, Fire Service Communications, or Law Enforcement Communications
6. American Red Cross certification in CPR and First Aid
7. Incident Management System (IMS) certifications
8. Hazardous Materials Awareness and Operations certifications
9. Advanced Training for EMDs or PSTs
10. Certified Flight Communicator (CFC) for air medical dispatchers

Note: The specific certifications available may vary depending on the dispatching training program and the organization offering the training. It is important to research the specific programs and their corresponding certification opportunities before enrolling.

12. Are there any job placement services or partnerships with employers included in the training program?

It depends on the specific program. Some training programs may offer job placement services or partnerships with employers, while others may not. It’s important to research the specific program and inquire about any job placement options available.

13. Does the training cover emergency procedures and protocols?

Yes, the training should cover emergency procedures and protocols. This is an important aspect of workplace safety that employees need to be trained on in case of emergencies such as fires, severe weather, or workplace accidents. Employees should know who to contact, where to go, and what steps to take in emergency situations. This training should also include fire drills and other emergency drills to ensure that employees are prepared and know how to respond.

14. How often do dispatchers have to go through refresher courses or continuing education?

As with any profession, dispatchers are expected to continually update their skills and knowledge through ongoing training and education. The frequency of refresher courses or continuing education may vary depending on the agency and state, but it is common for dispatchers to undergo annual training or attend regular seminars and workshops to stay up-to-date with new techniques, technologies, and protocols. In addition, dispatchers may also be required to complete regular evaluations or exams to ensure they are performing their duties effectively.

15. Are there any physical fitness requirements for becoming a dispatcher?

There are no specific physical fitness requirements for becoming a dispatcher. However, since the job can be mentally and emotionally demanding, it is important to maintain overall good health and have the ability to handle stressful situations. Additionally, some emergencies may require dispatchers to sit for long periods of time or move quickly between tasks, so it would be beneficial to have a moderate level of physical strength and endurance.

16. Will there be opportunities for networking and connecting with other dispatchers during the training program?

Yes, there may be opportunities for networking and connecting with other dispatchers during the training program. This could include group projects or activities, breakout sessions, or social events organized by the training program. Networking and establishing connections with other dispatchers can help individuals learn from one another and form a support system in their professional field.

17. Will I receive specialized skills like communication techniques and conflict resolution during the course?

It depends on the specific course you are taking. Some courses may cover these topics while others may not. It is important to research the course syllabus or contact the instructor to see what skills will be covered in the class.

18. Will I learn about laws and regulations specific to my location during the training?

The specific laws and regulations covered in the training will vary depending on the location. It is recommended to check with the training provider to determine which laws and regulations will be covered in the training.

19. Is it possible to take on multiple certifications with one single course completion?

It depends on the course and certification requirements. Some courses may cover multiple certifications, while others may only cover one. It’s best to check with the course provider or certifying organization to see if multiple certifications can be obtained with one course completion.

20.Is there flexibility in choosing the schedule of classes within the program?

It depends on the specific program and the institution offering it. Some programs may have predetermined class schedules that students must adhere to, while others may offer more flexibility in terms of choosing class times and days. It is important to research and understand the schedule format for a particular program before applying. Additionally, some programs may offer online or hybrid options that allow for more flexibility in scheduling classes.


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