Get Certified

Get Certified

National Search Dog Alliance offers various levels of certification testing to canine teams in many disciplines such as:

  • Area Search
  • Area Search with Live Subject and Cadaver
  • Wilderness Cadaver
  • Wilderness Trailing
  • Urban Trailing
  • Land Human Remains Detection
  • Water Human Remains Detection
  • Avalanche First Responder and Ski Patrol
  • Disaster First Responder Type III Live Find
  • Disaster First Responder Type III Human Remains Detection
  • Gun Source Residue
  • Backtracking

Follow the steps below to become a nationally certified canine team through NSDA!

Step #1 — Join NSDA. We offer different types of memberships to fit your exact needs, ranging from annual to lifetime to individual to team.

  • Lifetime Membership: $500
  • Team Membership: $300/year for up to/per 15 handlers
  • Individual Membership: $45/year

Step #2 — Review and Gather the Prerequisites for Your Discipline. We will provide you with the list of prerequisites required to test with NSDA and you can easily and quickly upload documents you already have directly to your profile. We will also provide you links to helpful online courses. Currently our general prerequisites include:

  • CPR/First Aid
  • Blood borne pathogens
  • Haz-mat training
  • Crime scene preservation training
  • ICS-200
  • Current canine vaccinations
  • Canine temperament evaluation (e.g., Canine Good Citizen)
  • Letter of Reference from a deploying agency or SAR Coordinator
  • Copy of 6-months training logs available for review
Additional prerequisites may be required for some disciplines.

Step #3 — Purchase and Take the Online Test(s). All disciplines require a one-time series of online tests designed to assess both the handler's general and discipline-specific knowledge. First take the general knowledge Disciplines Prerequisite Test. Then you can take the online test specific for your discipline(s). We will provide you with access to study guides and other resources to help you prepare and increase your knowledge.

Step #4 — Review the Field Testing Standards and Purchase a Field Test. Each of our field tests are designed to assess a team's (handler and canine) ability to demonstrably and reliably perform the task at hand, whether it be to locate gun source residue, a victim buried by an avalanche, or the trail of a missing subject. Collected testing fees are used to help offset travel costs incurred by Principal Evaluators.

Step #5 — Work with a Principal Evaluator to Arrange Your Testing Location and Date. Each field test is proctored by a nationally certified and experienced Principal Evaluator, and are designed to evaluate a canine team's ability to meet the rigorous standards set forth in their discipline. A successful team will receive an official National Search Dog Alliance certificate which recognizes the team's skills and proficiency in their discipline.

Step #6 — Be proud! You have joined a nationally-recognized group of canine handlers dedicated to excellence in the search and rescue community.

Click here to get started with the National Search Dog Alliance!