Become an Evaluator

Become an Evaluator

Principal Evaluators for the National Search Dog Alliance are held to the highest standards and bring their expertise and experience to ensure that certified teams offer excellence to the search and rescue community. We offer a pathway to becoming a Principal Evaluator through our Apprenticeship program.

Apprenticeships. Candidates for the Evaluator Apprentice program will complete the following:

  • Submit an Apprentice Evaluator Application, to include:
    • Proof of NSDA membership;
    • A resume outlining experience in canine search and rescue;
    • Proof of completion of ICS-200 and current First/Aid CPR certification;
    • Proof of 5 (five) years handling a canine in the discipline for which they are applying.
    • Proof of at least one (1) field certification with a canine in the discipline for which they are applying, from NSDA or one of the approved certifying organizations (see below); certification does not need to be current.
      • Candidates who have not previously certified with NSDA will be required to successfully complete certification within 6-months of achieving Principal Evaluator status. Failure to complete certification will result in the suspension of Evaluator status.
    • Proof of a minimum number of documented missions in each discipline for which applying:
      • 10 (ten) missions each for Area, Trailing, or Land HRD
      • 3 (three) missions for Water HRD
      • 1 (one) mission each for Avalanche or Disaster
    • A Letter of Reference from a deploying agency or SAR Coordinator;
    • Contact information for a Search and Rescue professional, Law Enforcement professional, or other independent third party who will provide a secondary reference.
    • A national fingerprint based background check (e.g., Federal Identity History Summary) from within the last five years:

Once approved and accepted into the Evaluator Apprentice Program:

  • Complete the NSDA Evaluator Standards Workshop for each discipline for which applying;
  • Apprentice 2 (two) field tests under the guidance of two different NSDA Principal Evaluators.

Additional documentation may be required for some disciplines. Members of NSDA can find more information on the Apprentice Program in the General Evaluator Guidelines.

NSDA Approved Certifying Organizations

NSDA will consider standards from other organizations on an individual basis. The organization must be recognized by NSDA as an outstanding leader in canine training, testing, documentation and professionalism. A copy of the standard for the organization to be considered must be submitted and approved by the Board of Directors before the organization can be accepted. See below for the current list of approved certifying organizations.

  • AERIE — Alliance for Emergency Response Instructors and Examiners
  • AWDA — American Working Dog Association: Wilderness Area Search and Wilderness HRD Land Type III Standards
  • AMPWDA — American Mantrailing, Police, and Work Dog Association: Airscent Live Find and Human Remains Detection Land Standards
  • CARDA — California Rescue Dog Association
  • FEMA — Federal Emergency Management Agency
  • IDHS — Indiana Department of Homeland Security
  • IPWDA — International Police Work Dog Association
  • KCSD — King County Search Dogs, WA
  • MAT+SAR — Matanuska Susitna Valley Search & Rescue, AK
  • NAPWDA — North American Police Work Dog Association
  • NASAR — National Association for Search and Rescue
  • NNCDS — National Network of Canine Detection Services: Land HRD Standard
  • NNDDA — National Narcotic Detector Dog Association
  • OSD — Oregon Search Dog, OR: Air Scent Standard
  • PSARC — Pennsylvania SAR Council, PA: Air Scent Standard
  • SARDUS — Search and Rescue Dogs of the United States
  • Tri-State K-9 — Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Idaho
  • SCVSARK9 — Snohomish County Volunteer Search & Rescue Team, WA: Air Scent Standard
  • SUSAR — State Urban Search & Rescue Alliance