We asked 163,790 job seekers about their Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) Certification. This is what they told us:
- 55% of job seekers said "required for my current job" was the biggest reason for earning their Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) Certification
- 37% said earning their Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) Certification helped them make more money
- 60% said earning their Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) Certification helped them get a job
- 98% said they would recommend a family member or friend earn their Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) Certification
Requirements for CPR certification
Training to provide cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) gives people one of the valuable skills they need to save a life in an emergency. Using CPR, medical professionals, first responders, safety workers and others can react effectively in any case of cardiac arrest. To administer CPR, people should first undergo CPR certification training in the proper administration of CPR and other life-saving techniques. In a CPR certification class, trainees learn when CPR should be administered, the best techniques for providing CPR in a variety of situations and emergency procedures for reacting to cardiac arrest and other emergencies.
From a professional standpoint, many occupations require CPR certifications. Some states mandate that specific professionals or volunteers become CPR certified. In most cases, however, CPR certification requirements come down to individual employers. On the federal level, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends, but does not require, that employers provide CPR training and have certain employees become CPR certified.
Obtaining a CPR certification can take anywhere from one hour for a basic CPR certification to 12 hours for those who work in the healthcare field and frequently respond to cardiac emergencies. CPR certification courses may be free when they are offered by schools or employers, or they can range in price from $10 to $70.
Read on to find out more about which professions are most often required to obtain CPR certification, the OSHA recommendations for CPR certification and how to become CPR certified.
Who is required to become CPR certified?
Many professionals are required to become CPR certified for their jobs. Generally, any professional who works as a first responder, in public health or public safety, or caring for or coaching children, will need to obtain and maintain CPR certification as a requirement of the job. In most cases, CPR certification comes as a mandate by employers, rather than by any law. However, there are some professionals who are required to become CPR certified under state laws. If you are wondering if CPR certification is a requirement for your job, check with your employer, or potential employer, to determine their guidelines and any state laws that apply to your position.
The legal requirements for earning a CPR certification vary by state. Most states have laws in place to guarantee that medical workers and those who work with children are CPR certified. In many states, those who are required to be CPR certified include:
- Youth sports coaches
- Daycare providers
- Youth camp medical staff
- Healthcare aids
Thirty-eight states currently require high school students to become CPR certified to be eligible to receive their high school diplomas.1 School programs provide the necessary CPR training before graduation.
More common than legal requirements for CPR certifications are professional requirements for CPR certifications.2 For many professionals, employers require employees obtain and maintain CPR certification. These requirements are most common for medical care professionals, childcare professionals and first responders. In most cases, the following professionals will be required by their employers to hold CPR certifications:
- Police officers and sheriffs deputies
- Paramedics and emergency medical personnel
- Security guards
- Flight attendants
- Personal trainers
- Physical therapists
- Mental health providers
- Prison guards
In some cases, employers won’t require CPR certification for every employee or for a job description. Instead, they will choose to have just a few members of the staff CPR certified so that there is always someone on hand who can administer CPR in an emergency. This is a common practice across all industries, including office settings, manufacturing facilities, construction sites, schools and retail stores. In these cases, employers often will require managers or department heads to become CPR certified, or they will have volunteer members of a safety committee trained to administer CPR and use an automated external defibrillator (AED) if one is kept on site.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sets safety rules for the workplace and has many laws regarding the safety training employers must either provide for their employees or require and oversee that their employees have received. Currently, OSHA does not have any regulations that require any types of businesses to provide or require CPR training. However, OSHA has issued recommendations regarding CPR certification in OSHA standard 29 CFR 1910.151,3 which outlines the recommendations and requirements regarding medical services and first aid.
Under the standard, OSHA recommends that in cases where there is not a hospital or clinic close to a workplace that can be accessed by all employees, the business should have an employee, or a set of employees, who are trained to administer CPR and first aid. Employers also are encouraged to keep a stock of first aid supplies readily available to employees.
What are the types of CPR?
Because there are so many different applications for CPR – from healthcare settings to emergency situations that pop up in everyday life – there are different types of CPR certifications available. The type of certification you need will be determined by your employer or by your unique qualifications and training needs. The common types of CPR certifications include:
Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)
CPR is a basic response technique to an emergency situation in which a person’s heart has suddenly stopped beating. CPR involves the use of chest compressions and breathing to restart a stopped heart or to keep blood and oxygen circulating until emergency personnel can intervene. Through CPR certification courses, people learn when and how to administer CPR, as well as different CPR techniques.
With general CPR certification courses4, students learn:
- Adult CPR – CPR is used on adult patients in cases of sudden cardiac arrest. In a general CPR certification course, students learn to assess an adult in an emergency to determine if CPR is needed. They learn to use chest compressions and breathing techniques on an adult to maintain circulation and breathing until first responders arrive.
- Pediatric/Child and Infant/Baby CPR – For babies and children, CPR may be used in cardiac emergencies as well as in breathing emergencies. In a CPR certification course, students learn how to assess infant and child patients in an emergency and apply the CPR techniques appropriate for babies and children.
- Hands-Only CPR – In some emergencies, particularly when there is only one CPR-certified person on the scene, hands-only CPR may be the best response. In CPR certification classes, students learn how to perform CPR with assistance and how to administer hands-only CPR when they are the only qualified person to provide CPR in an emergency.
General CPR certification is usually sought by people who are not first responders and who do not work in the healthcare field. Some general CPR certification courses are also geared toward specific needs, such as CPR for lifeguards, childcare workers and nursing assistants.
Basic Life Support (BLS)
Basic Life Support (BLS) offers more advanced CPR techniques for first responders, nurses, doctors and other healthcare workers5 who might be responding to emergency situations. BLS certification involves in-depth responses to cardiac and breathing emergencies and addresses the special circumstances that might be faced by first responders, medical teams and emergency personnel. BLS courses6 include information on:
- Rapid assessments and visual surveys – Students learn to take visual stock of a patient in an emergency situation and to quickly assess the medical threat and determine the best course of action.
- CPR and Automated External Defibrillator (AED) – Students learn to perform CPR for adults and children and the proper use of an AED.
- Obstructed airways – Students learn how to determine when an airway has been obstructed and how to best clear an obstruction and restore breathing.
- Opioid overdoses – Responders learn how to identify and respond to opioid overdoses.
- Critical thinking, problem solving, communication and teamwork – Because medical workers and first responders often have to take stock of a situation and work as part of a life-saving team, BLS courses address these issues.
- Legal issues – First responders and medical workers learn the legal considerations they must weigh when responding to an emergency situation and administering BLS.
- Precautions – First responders and healthcare workers learn the precautions they can take to protect themselves from pathogens and other dangers in emergency response situations.
As with CPR certification, there are special tracts for BLS certification courses that students can take to better tailor their BLS certification education to their professional or personal needs. Read reviews about BLS Certification
Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS)
Advanced Cardiac Life Support moves beyond what is taught in BLS for those who deal with emergency cardiac situations on a regular basis.7 Through ACLS, providers learn:
- The importance of fast and continual CPR response in a cardiac emergency
- Use of bag masks and AEDs in responding to cardiac arrest
- Recognition and early response to cardiac arrest and peri-arrest conditions
- Airway management
- The use of medications in responding to cardiac arrest and respiratory distress
- Response to strokes and acute coronary syndrome (ACS)
- Teamwork and communication when dealing with a cardiac emergency
Automated External Defibrillator (AED) usage
As Automated External Defibrillators have become common fixtures in many schools, hospitals and public settings, CPR training has been expanded to include training in the use of AEDs. For healthcare professionals and first responders, proper AED usage is covered as part of BLS and ACLS certification courses. For others who work or volunteer where AEDs are available, AED training often is offered as part of an expanded CPR certification course or as a complementary course. Read reviews about AED Certification
How do you become CPR certified?
To become CPR certified, you must take a CPR course. CPR certification courses can be completed in as little as one hour for a basic CPR course taken online to 12 hours for an in-depth, in-person ACLS course. Options for taking CPR courses include:
- In-person CPR courses – CPR training course are available through certified instructors in a variety of settings. You can search for a certification course near you. Some employers who require across-the-board CPR certification, or who wish to provide the option to their employees to increase workplace preparedness, bring certified trainers into the workplace to provide employee training and certification.
- Online courses – Many different websites offer CPR, BLS and AED certification trainings. These trainings are offered through online modules. When seeking a certification online, it is always important to verify that the certification will be acceptable to your employer.
- Blended courses – Some groups offer blended courses that provide some online training modules, followed by in-person practical training for final CPR training.
In general, becoming CPR certified should be quick and inexpensive. Because CPR best practices do change over time, those who wish to maintain CPR certification will need to take recertification courses from time to time. For American Red Cross and American Heart Association certification, a recertification course is required every two years.
If you are required to obtain a CPR certification for your professional or volunteer work, it is important to verify with your employer which type of CPR certification is required. Some employers may require that CPR certification is earned in person or that the course taken is approved by the American Red Cross or the American Heart Association.
1. “CPR training at school now required in 50 states”. American Heart Association. Retrieved November 2019.
2. “20 Careers That Require CPR Certification You Never Would Have Thought Of”. American Heart Association. Retrieved November 2019.
3. “OSHA guidelines for First Aid training recommend CPR training as an element”. United States Department of Labor. Retrieved November 2019.
4. “How to Perform CPR”. American Red Cross Training Services. Retrieved November 2019.
5. “Basic Life Support (BLS) Course Options”. American Heart Association CPR & First Aid Emergency Cardiovascular Care. Retrieved November 2019.
6. “How to Perform BLS”. American Red Cross Training Services. Retrieved November 2019.
7. “Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS)”. American Heart Association CPR & First Aid Emergency Cardiovascular Care. Retrieved November 2019.
Editorial content last updated: November 2019
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“CPR is a life saving skill that can be used outside of a career. It is incredibly important to know, and can save the lives of any person in your life.”
“That there's alot of people not only disabled that needs help and attention”
“How much our elderly needs our help and how lonely they are”
“Some things that I'd seen on jobs that were unsafe, I didnt realize the cost or possibly the negative outcome that potentially could have affected myself or a coworker.”
“I wish I knew before earning this certificate, how stressful it can be at times but I love it wouldn't change it.”
“Only earn it if your heart is in it an it's something u truly want to do”
“My CPR certification took 8 hours, and gave me invaluable skills and knowledge.”
“Take all training serious 100 % of the time and the training is in place due in an injury or death.”
“That its heart warming when you've helped out a patient with their Dr's. Visit with translation, prescriptions, vaccines, etc. and patient thanks you it feels rewarding.”
“Everyone should take a CPR/AED class. You could save someone's life and it teaches you how to respond appropriately.”