Testing Resources

There are basically two levels of testing for public safety dispatcher positions--entry level and promotional. At the entry level, you might also consider a sub-level of testing for those who are lateral entries, that is, applicants that have prior dispatching experience or who are currently employed at a public safety agency.

There have been very few sources of entry-level testing for this specialized position of public safety dispatcher. In some cases, individual states (Oregon and California included) have studied the tasks and skills required to be a successful dispatcher, and have created a validated test that agencies can use. More recently, private companies have begun to create test for public safety dispatchers.

  • First, you should consult with your state government officials to see if a standardized test is available for your agency.
  • California's P.O.S.T. agency has posted an Examinee Guide (pdf) for its state-wide test, along with a copy of the standardized Personal History Questionaire (.doc).
  • The International Personnel Management Association licenses dispatcher test materials for a fee.
  • Ergometrics and Applied Research Inc. offers video-based testing (called E-comm) for both calltakers and radio dispatchers. It consists of 38 items for the calltaker and 20 items for the dispatcher, and includes: listening and communications skills, dealing with difficult and stressful situations, multi-tasking, analysis, prioritizing and problem solving, recording accuracy, public relations, internal relations, and responsibility for officer safety.
  • CritiCall Pre-Employment Testing Software is a computerized testing system that contains 23 different test modules, many which simulate the types of tasks performed at a communications center, such as entering data (names, VIN numbers, addresses, telephone numbers, license plates) heard over a headset, multi-tasking, keyboarding, using information heard over the headset, memory recall, prioritizing, using an alphabeticized list, map reading, reading comprehension, writing, and much, much more. The company says, "The test is virtually self-administering and self-scoring. In November 2006 CritiCall released the latest version of the test, one section which has the option to require job candidates to perform five times the multi-tasking activity than the previous versions. CritiCall has been adopted by over 600 public safety agencies including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and more than 25% of the nation’s State Police/Highway Patrol agencies." [presentation presentation by james Kuthy at NENA 2000]
  • Profile Evaluations, Inc. offers a comprehensive selection program and consulting services for a fee.
  • The U.S. Department of Labor's Employment and Testing Administration (ETA) has a Web site with a wide variety of information on the subject of assessment and testing.
  • The ETA also has an 80-page publication, "Testing and Assessment: An Employer's Guide to Good Practices," in Acrobat (pdf) format (205k).
  • Darany and Associates offers pre-employment audio tests for public safety dispatchers. Contact them at (909) 798-4475 in southern California.
  • The HR-Guide on-line site has a list of 2,000 interview questions organized by topic. [bottom of screen]
  • The PERFEX dispatch simulator was designed to test specific skills and abilities of dispatcher candidates in a standardized way, and to give comparable scores. Contact Deltronics Communications Service at (503) 699-0100.
  • I/O Solutions Inc. offers its National Public Safety Dispatcher Selection Inventory (NPSDSI), which is a "job-simulation," audio-based assessment that measures the critical dispatch skills of listening comprehension, problem-solving, multitasking, and composure under stress. The entire exam is presented on audio CD. Also offers The Dispatch Supervisor Promotional Examinations, developed with the help of subject-matter experts (SMEs), or individuals who hold or supervise these positions in agencies across the country. The examinations areas are based on popular texts dealing with supervision, administration, and operations of emergency call centers. Based on the essential tasks outlined in a job analysis process, several areas of measurement were chosen as critical for inclusion in the examination. This exam measures job knowledge from the following tactical and procedural areas: Roles and Responsibilities of the Emergency Telecommunicator; Communication Center Technologies; Telephone Communication/Call Processing; Interpersonal Communication; Concepts of Administration; Legal Aspects of Public Safety Communication/Radio Broadcast Procedures; Stress Management; Concepts of Supervision/Leadership; Training Employees; Evaluating Subordinate Performance.
  • CPS Human Resource Services offers tests that assess the skills and knowledge needed to ensure selection of the best candidates for dispatcher positions. CPS sets the highest standards in test development and security to offer clients quality products at a reasonable cost. Their dispatcher exams are regularly updated to maintain the company's high standard of test integrity. (916-263-3600)
  • APR Testing Services, Joel Wiesen, Ph.D., Director. (617) 244-8859, specializing in Personnel selection (promotion and hiring), employment discrimination, race/sex/age discrimination, test validation, job analysis. E-mail: info@selectadv.net
  • Select Advantage offers a valid behaviorally based assessment specifically for entry level dispatchers and call takers. This assessment measures those innate behaviors that are virtually impossible to teach or train. Contact (800) 377-0554, info@selectadv.net. 
  • Stanard & Associates, Inc. - Offers the National Dispatcher Selection Test (NDST) to give call centers the ability to objectively assess a candidate’s skill level in five important areas: Reading Comprehension, Listening, Problem Solving, Prioritizing, and Multi-Tasking. [order form -pdf]
  • Ergometrics markets the ECOMM video testing systsem consisting of three modules: calltaking, calltaking notes and dispatching that focus on multi-tasking, listening and communications skills, dealing with stress, accuracy and attention to detail and problem-solving.
  • Select Advantage - a consulting company that offers pre-hire dispatcher assessments that are validated, and meet EEOC and ADA requirements.
  • Wonderlic Inc. - provides an extensive array of testing and evaluation solutions for several different fields

The New York City (NY) police dispatcher test includes 80 question multiple-choice aptitude test that are not communications specific. Rather, they measure general, relevant job skills The passing grade is 70%. The test includes questions on understanding written information; communicating written information to another person; remembering new information; recognizing the existence of a problem; combining separate pieces of information to form a general conclusion; applying general rules to a specific situation; understanding the order in which things should be done; combining information into a meaningful pattern quickly; identifying an object in its surroundings; recognizing where you are in relation to the space you are in; using a map or diagram to get from one position to another; and knowledge of the basic geography of New York City, including major roadways and landmarks, bridges, tunnels, parks, etc.

If you provide specific dispatcher testing services, send me e-mail and I'll add your information to this page.

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