In BLS Certification, CPR Certification

If you’ve decided to take a CPR class and you started searching the internet for courses, you might have noticed that there are two types of certifications: American Heart Association (AHA) and American Red Cross (ARC). But, what is the difference between American Heart Association and Red Cross BLS?

The AHA and the ARC are the most popular CPR certifying courses. Both offer excellent training based on the current American Heart Association guidelines, but there are notable differences between the two. We’ll dive into the key differences between AHA vs Red Cross CPR below.

What is AHA CPR Certification?

The AHA CPR classes are split into two options: BLS for the Healthcare Professional and Heartsaver CPR. If you work in the medical field, you’ll be deciding between AHA vs Red Cross BLS in order to get your certification for work. AHA BLS is more widely accepted among hospitals and dentists. If you are not a medical professional, you can start with the standard CPR class, ideal for laypeople like babysitters, teachers, etc. Most CPR certifications, including AHA certifications, are valid for 2 years.


BLS for the healthcare provider is designed for any person that works in the healthcare industry. For example, emergency medical technicians (EMTs), pharmacists, registered nurses (RNs) and other medical personnel. It focuses on the following topics:

  • How to administer adult, child and infant CPR
  • How to assist conscious and unconscious choking victims
  • The use of an automated external defibrillator (AED) and special considerations
  • The importance of breathing barriers and bag valve masks
  • How to provide two-rescuer CPR

Furthermore, BLS for the healthcare provider explores cardiopulmonary emergencies and special resuscitation situations, ensuring medical personnel know how to respond in life-threatening scenarios.


Heartsaver CPR AED offers an ideal course for laypersons of all ages and skill levels. Heartsaver CPR AED teaches students how to provide adult, child and infant CPR and how to use an AED effectively while waiting for First Responders and EMS to arrive at the scene.

If you are in the medical field, BLS for the healthcare provider is the only class for you. It is the most widely accepted course for hospitals and dentists. Meanwhile, the Heartsaver CPR AED classes are for laypeople, teachers, physical therapists, babysitters and many others.

Moreover, AHA certifications are good for two years, and a book must be purchased with each class.

What is ARC CPR Certification?

The ARC CPR course is divided into different categories depending on your situation. If you’re a healthcare professional, you can take CPR for the Healthcare Providers. Laypeople can take the standard CPR certification class. They also offer CPR for school programs with specific instruction for teachers. ARC certification is less commonly accepted than the AHA certification and is valid for 2 years.


ARC CPR for healthcare providers teaches students how to respond to breathing and cardiac emergencies in adults, children and infants.

During a CPR for the professional rescuer class, students will learn about one- and two-rescuer CPR, how to use an AED and how to support conscious and unconscious choking victims. The class also highlights how to give ventilations and perform a primary assessment in an emergency.


ARC CPR for schools offers health and safety training for students, teachers, and administrators.

Students can participate in a CPR class that teaches them how to administer hands-only CPR. After a student successfully completes this class, he or she will receive a CPR course completion card.

Also, the ARC offers a first aid and CPR class for students. This class teaches students about citizen CPR and how to administer care and check in on an injured or ill person.


CPR for the workplace enables small or large groups of workers to receive CPR training. The class frequently is provided at an office or work location and ensures many employees can learn CPR at the same time.

In most instances, CPR for the workplace provides a flexible training option for organizations of all sizes. It allows employers to educate their workers about CPR, and as such, create safer, more productive work environments.

CPR for the professional rescuer is comparable to the AHA BLS course, but is not accepted as widely. It is a two-year certification class.

Comparatively, the other two courses are equivalent to the Heartsaver courses, but the certifications will remain valid for one year. Books must be purchased for ARC CPR classes as well.

CPR Certification: Red Cross vs American Heart Association

Here’s an overview of the differences between AHA and ARC CPR courses.

Certification period:

  • Both AHA and ARC certifications are valid for 2 years.

Healthcare professional certification:

  • AHA – Accepted by most hospitals and dental offices as valid BLS certification.
  • ARC – Accepted by fewer hospitals and dental offices.

Exam scores:

  • AHA – Requires a score of 84% or higher to pass
  • ARC – Requires a score of 80% or higher to pass the online exam

Both courses offer comprehensive CPR education and are available in different tiers depending on your skill level and learning style preferences.

American Red Cross vs American Heart Association CPR

If you need CPR certification, Red Cross vs American Heart Association is an important question to ask yourself. So, what’s better? AHA BLS vs Red Cross?

While every student’s circumstances vary, I find the AHA certification to be better overall. It is more widely accepted in the medical community, is valid for twice as long, and offers more rigorous training––meaning an AHA CPR course could likely offer more value in the long run.

However, make sure to do your research and find the best course for you. If you need to get CPR certified for work, check with your school, hospital, or job site to make sure that your training will be accepted.

It also is important to remember that there are several AHA and ARC CPR certification alternatives. In fact, many CPR certification programs are equivalent to AHA and ARC certification.

For example, the American Safety and Health Institute (ASHI) CPR certification program is approved by the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Department of Defense and Homeland Security and many world-renowned organizations. It usually is an affordable alternative to AHA and ARC CPR classes.

Get CPR Certified with SureFire CPR

SureFire CPR offers top-notch CPR training. Our BLS for Healthcare Providers is a great way for medical professionals to learn CPR and receive your AHA certification. Non-medical personnel can take our ASHI CPR certification course, a great option for lifeguards, babysitters, and anyone interested in learning CPR.

Our team of experts is here to help you get certified and make training fun! We have offices across Southern California and offer a variety of course slots so that it’s easy to fit training into your busy schedule. Contact us to find out more!

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