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Your Job Outlook as a CPR Instructor

Want to become a CPR instructor? The good news is that this position is projected to grow 8% from 2014 to 2024. The bad news is that it isn’t always a high-paying job; people in this category make anywhere from $28,000 to $50,000, depending on where you find your answers. They vary depending on where you work, and many instructors work part-time or even volunteer.

We think there may be more to those numbers, however. The Occupational Outlook Handbook doesn’t track CPR instructors individually, lumping them in with fitness trainers and instructors. While the outlook for these jobs is often tied to how well the economy is doing—people usually spring for personal trainers and fitness instruction when they have more money—CPR instructors are not usually considered a luxury. CPR certification is necessary across a wide spectrum of professions, and where the certification is needed, so are instructors.

Here are a few things that just may affect your job outlook if you are a CPR instructor—or are thinking of becoming one.

Image of person in classroom teaching CPR

The law in your state. Changing laws may have the effect of creating a demand for more CPR instructors. Currently, 26 states require CPR training as a condition for high school graduation. In those states, CPR instructors will be needed in classrooms, although the American Heart Association is also selling a portable CPR training kit allowing teachers to bring the instructions to classrooms themselves. Whether professional CPR instructors will be in higher demand in the states that have these laws remains to be seen, as many of the laws are quite recent, but it’s possible the new legislation could change the dynamic.

Where you look for work. Some companies—especially those that have stringent on-site safety regulations to comply with—hire CPR instructors on a part-time basis. As companies become more aware of risk management, many are making the calculation that having a CPR-certified employee on staff is just good common sense. OSHA regulations often include a requirement for CPR-certified employees.

Of course, CPR instructors will continue to be in demand in organizations such as fire departments, hospitals and medical care facilities, police departments, emergency services, and other groups that have a demonstrated need for expert instruction. There are also independent training organizations that hire CPR instructors out to companies, nonprofits, and other organizations that need the training; many instructors get work through these companies.

Image of person practicing CPR on a dummy

Whether your current employer is on board. If you want to teach CPR, you may be able to do it at your current job—and you may be able to get your employer to pay for the certification. Having a CPR instructor on staff makes company workspaces safer, which in turn should reduce costs—both in terms of medical costs for injured employees and insurance premium costs. There are plenty of reasons why encouraging training should be attractive to employers.

It may be possible to convince your company to start this program—be prepared to demonstrate how having an on-site CPR instructor can reduce training expenses and make the workplace safer—or your workplace may already have an established program in place. Either way, it’s worth looking into if this is a goal of yours.

Where you earned your certification. Sometimes, the certification you earn qualifies you to teach only with that organization, not others. The American Heart Association is the most strict in this area; they recognize no other credentials. There are many different certifying bodies for CPR instructors—there is no overarching federal law governing these bodies—and this means, among other things, that some certifying organizations don’t accept the certifications from other groups.

Your credentials and experience. The good thing about CPR instruction is that there is a fairly low barrier to entry. CPR instructors need at least a high school diploma, and need to earn CPR certification before they can enroll in instructor training. The American Heart Association, American Red Cross, and many other organizations offer instructor training; some, such as the American Heart Association, require students to be monitored teaching their first class.

Many employers look for experience—at least three years or so is common—when hiring CPR instructors. Some CPR training organizations will hire people who do not have the credential and train them on-site, but in some cases they will require a medical background.

Image of a person studying CPR online

Your own initiative. If the job market is tight for CPR instructors in your area, it’s possible to make your own opportunities. You can build a website, advertise your services, and get work as a freelance CPR instructor. Going the self-employed route or starting an online business around CPR instruction can be a bit more uncertain than landing regular employment, but it can also be very rewarding.

Should you become a CPR instructor? That answer will be different for everybody. However, learning CPR can be immensely satisfying as well. Knowing you have the power to save a person in cardiac arrest—and teach that information to others—can be hugely affirming.


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