American Red Cross CPR Classes or American Heart Association CPR Training: What’s the difference between the certifications?

American Heart Association CPRCPR Certification is something that confuses most people.  Which class do you need? Which certification is going to satisfy the requirements for your job?


The two largest CPR training companies are the American Heart Association and the American Red Cross. These companies have been training people to save lives for years and their certifications used to be synonymous.  Unfortunately, things have changed and this is not the case anymore.


So what is the difference?


The last thing that you want to do is sit through a four hour CPR or first aid class and realize that you didn’t choose the right certification.  The most important thing you can do before signing up for a class is to ask your employer or future employer exactly what type of CPR certification you need as well as which certifying agency they are accepting for the position.


The certifying agencies are the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American Red Cross (ARC).  Your class choices are as follows:

1.) CPR

2.) CPR and First Aid

3.) Pediatric CPR and First Aid

4.) Basic Life Support for the Healthcare Provider


If you know exactly which class you need then you should have no problem.  If you cannot reach your employer, the American Heart Association certification is valid for 2 years whereas the Red Cross cert is only valid for 1 year.  The AHA cert is also much more widely accepted in the hospital setting than the ARC.  Although both certifications may be valid, the AHA classes will be both more cost effective and more widely recognized.  Also, if you work in the medical field and you are not sure which class to take, always opt for the Basic Life Support for the Healthcare Provider.  This is the highest level of CPR training and will be accepted everywhere.


So to avoid a CPR nightmare, talk to your boss first! And if you can’t do that, stick with a 2 year American Heart Association certification.

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About the author

I spent 15 years as a firefighter and paramedic...

And too often I would arrive on the scene of someone unconscious, surrounded by a circle of people feeling helpless. Sometimes those people would even have CPR training but lacked the confidence and experience to act.

That’s why I started SureFire CPR. Our classes are practical and engaging – teaching you the crucial skills you need to know what to do and feel empowered to take action.

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Zack Zarrilli, Founder

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