Types of CPR Training

Choosing the right cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) course can be a challenge—because the type of training you need may vary depending on what you’re using it for. A new parent who wants to be prepared for anything has different needs from a firefighter or pediatric nurse.

To get your bearings, it might be helpful to compare our courses with those offered by the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American Red Cross. Our online CPR classes cover most of the same territory, we’ve built all our training modules around AHA guidelines, and they are compliant with AHA, ECC, and ILCOR guidelines.

But each organization labels their courses a bit differently—and comparing them can be confusing. To help you sort out your options, we’ve prepared an overview of the courses we offer, who typically takes them, and how they compare with the Red Cross and AHA course structure.

It’s important to bear in mind that you can’t get certified online through Red Cross and AHA courses. Both organizations offer online classes, but if you want the certification, you need to do an in-person skills assessment with an instructor at a training center.

Read on for more information.

Adult, Child, and Infant CPR & AED

This course provides CPR and AED (automatic external defibrillator) training for adults, children, and infants. It’s best suited for health industry professionals who need the certification as a work requirement, especially those responsible for the care of children or vulnerable adults.

This CPR course is particularly well suited to:

  • Childcare providers
  • Adult daycare workers
  • Law enforcement professionals
  • Coaches and teachers
  • Camp counselors
  • Home health aides

AHA Equivalent: This course is comparable to the American Heart Association’s Heartsaver CPR AED course. Like ours, this is a course designed for laypeople who need CPR for work.

This course covers CPR and AED for adult victims only, but offers optional content for children and infants.

Red Cross Equivalent: This CPR course is also similar to the Adult, Child and Baby First Aid / CPR / AED course offered by the Red Cross—except that the Red Cross course is a bit heavier on the first aid.

The Red Cross also offers CPR training for non-medical professionals as part of larger curriculums geared toward babysitting and childcare, swimming and water safety, and lifeguarding.

Adult-Only CPR & AED

This online CPR class provides in-depth training for adult victims only, and includes hands-only CPR. As with the course above, it’s best suited for those who aren’t medical professionals, but who may need to deliver lifesaving care in a workplace setting.

People taking this course may be responsible for vulnerable adults, but not usually for children.

Those who typically take this CPR training include:

  • On-site safety officers
  • Security personnel
  • Correctional officers
  • Tradespeople
  • Food and beverage workers
  • Hospitality professionals

AHA Equivalent: As with the first course above, this one is roughly analogous to AHA Heartsaver CPR AED Training—without the child and infant modules.

Red Cross Equivalent: The Red Cross also offers an adult-specific course: Adult CPR / AED.

BLS Certification

BLS (or “Basic Life Support”) certification is our CPR training for healthcare professionals.

This course teaches professional-level CPR with rescue breathing, among other skills. Those who typically take this CPR certification course include:

  • Doctors and nurses
  • Paramedics
  • Firefighters
  • Physical therapists
  • Physician assistants
  • Nursing home care providers
  • Lifeguards
  • Pharmacists
  • Dentists, dental assistants, and dental hygienists

AHA Equivalent: This course is similar to the AHA’s Basic Life Support / HeartCode BLS course for healthcare professionals. The AHA offers a range of courses for healthcare professionals, including:

  • HeartCode Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS)
  • Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS)
  • Pediatric Advanced Emergency Assessment, Recognition, and Stabilization (PEARS)

Red Cross Equivalent: The Red Cross also offers a BLS for Healthcare Providers course that’s similar to our BLS program. Their additional training programs for health care providers include:

  • BLS for Healthcare Providers
  • CPR for Healthcare Providers
  • Advanced Life Support (ALS)
  • Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS)

Basic First Aid Certification

This course is designed for those who want to be able to deliver competent first aid, but don’t need complete CPR certification. Often, those who already have CPR certification take this course to round out their knowledge.

Topics covered in this course include first aid for choking, basic wound care, and other skills. People who often take this course include:

  • Parents and foster parents
  • Daycare providers
  • Babysitters
  • Camp counselors
  • Tradespeople
  • On-site safety officers
  • Food and beverage workers
  • Teachers and coaches

AHA Equivalent: The AHA offers a first aid course specifically for non-medical professionals: Heartsaver First Aid.

Red Cross Equivalent: The Red Cross offers an online first aid course, as well as specific first aid courses for:

  • Infants and children
  • Opioid overdoses
  • Severe bleeding
  • Anaphylaxis and Epinephrine Auto-Injector
  • Cats and dogs

Adult, Child, & Infant CPR and First Aid

This online CPR course combines CPR and AED certification from our Adult, Child, and Infant CPR & AED course with in-depth first aid training. It’s a well-rounded certification program for laypeople who may be responsible for the safety of children or adults, and may need to deliver first aid or child CPR.

Those who often take this online CPR training include:

  • Parents and foster parents
  • Teachers and coaches
  • Childcare providers
  • Caregivers of vulnerable adults
  • Home health aides
  • Adult daycare providers

AHA Equivalent: The AHA Heartsaver First Aid CPR AED course offers a similar broad range of topics spanning CPR, AED, and first aid. The course is for adults, but offers an optional child and infant module.

Red Cross Equivalent: The Red Cross’s Adult, Child and Baby First Aid / CPR / AED course covers a similar range of topics.

Bloodborne Pathogens Certification

This OSHA-compliant course is designed for those who may encounter bloodborne pathogens at work, and need to know how to respond to exposure and lower the risk.

Those who typically take this online course include:

  • Doctors and nurses
  • Tattoo and piercing artists
  • Athletic coaches
  • Camp counselors
  • Nursing home employees
  • Home health aides
  • Lab technicians
  • Research scientists who work with bloodborne pathogens
  • Law enforcement professionals
  • Crime scene cleanup professionals

AHA Equivalent: The AHA offers the Heartsaver Bloodborne Pathogens course, which is also OSHA-compliant.

Red Cross Equivalent: The Red Cross offers Bloodborne Pathogens Training, as well as Bloodborne Pathogens Training for Tattoo Artists.

Other Course Options with the Red Cross and AHA

Both the Red Cross and AHA offer other courses that we don’t currently carry equivalents for. Two of the most commonly required courses you may encounter are the Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) and Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) courses.

ACLS Training

This course builds on the skills learned in BLS courses, and is designed for doctors, nurses, and other health professionals. It takes an in-depth look in how to manage cardiovascular emergencies, including cardiac arrest.

Topics typically covered include:

  • Basic life support, including CPR with chest compressions, and use of an Ambu Bag and AED
  • Early recognition and management of cardiac arrest and other conditions such as symptomatic bradycardia
  • How to manage an airway
  • Pharmacology for cardiac emergencies
  • ACS and stroke management
  • How to lead and function as part of a resuscitation team

AHA ACLS Training: The AHA offers two courses in this area under its Healthcare Professionals category: Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support and Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support for Experienced Professionals.

The course for experienced professionals is for those who already have BLS and ACLS knowledge, can read an ECG, and regularly lead emergency teams in responding to cardiac emergencies. It teaches advanced skills in caring for cardiac and respiratory arrest victims up to transfer of care, as well as delivering post-arrest care.

ACLS Training with the Red Cross: The Red Cross calls this type of course ALS (Advanced Life Support). They offer a similar course that requires BLS certification as a pre-requisite, in both in-person and blended-learning formats.

PALS Training

PALS (Pediatric Advanced Life Support) is training for people who typically respond to life-threatening situations involving young children and infants. Those include professionals in critical and intensive care as well as emergency medicine.

AHA PALS training: The AHA offers two courses, PALS and PEARS (Pediatric Emergency Assessment, Recognition, and Stabilization). Professionals who take these courses include:

  • Doctors and nurses
  • Physician assistants
  • EMTs
  • Respiratory therapists
  • Critical care professionals
  • Outpatient clinic staffmembers
  • School-based healthcare professionals

The PALS course is geared toward health industry professionals who specialize in treating children, while the PEARS course is more focused on those who provide lifesaving care, but don’t typically treat children.

Red Cross PALS: The Red Cross also offers Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) with BLS certification as a pre-requisite.

If you’re not sure which CPR classes and certification you need for work, the first place to check is with your employer.

The Red Cross and American Heart Association both offer a range of courses for professionals and laypeople. While their courses are organized differently, they cover very similar topics.

The only caveat is that they don't offer online CPR certification—you have to complete a hands on skills assessment to earn your card. With us, you can earn your course completion card fully online.