Police, fire and ambulance dispatchers undergo typing tests and sometimes drug and hearing and vision tests before they are able to work. A dispatcher also has to pass a written exam, background check and lie-detector test. Additional requirements include obtaining U.S. citizenship and, in some cases, a driver's license.
In addition to testing, dispatchers must also earn a certification to qualify for employment in a majority of states. Before a dispatcher is allowed to give medical advice over the phone, he must first attain his Emergency Medical Dispatcher certification.
As of 2015, some states require dispatchers to complete at least 40 hours of training. Dispatchers may also be required to complete continuing-education training every two to three years. Some states leave dispatcher training and education to the discretion of local agencies and localities. To create training programs, agencies can use guidelines set by such organizations as the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials, the International Academies of Emergency Dispatch and the National Emergency Number Association.
Dispatchers can complete training on the job and in the classroom as they learn about agency protocol, local geography and fundamental procedures. There's also computer-aided dispatch software and two-way radio technology that dispatchers might learn how to use. Training may also consist of learning how to handle suicidal callers, child abductions and other dangerous situations.