American Red Cross or American Heart Association CPR Certification: Which One Should You Get?

American Red Cross or American Heart Association CPR Certification: Which One Should You Get?

I’m a certified instructor for the American Red Cross (ARC) and the American Heart Association (AHA). It’s simplistic to say that either the ARC or the AHA has the “better” CPR classes.  In fact, starting in 2011 many of the big differences between the organization’s courses disappeared when the ARC shortened their courses.  Still, there are differences in price and employer acceptance; hence, depending of what your objective is, one organization’s CPR class may be a better fit for you than the other’s. What follows is a brief summary of the similarities and differences between ARC and AHA CPR classes so you can make an informed decision before enrolling.

Certification Length

For a standard CPR certification, sometimes referred to as CPR for the layperson, the obvious choice used to be the AHA. Their certifications are good for two years, while the ARC always had a one-year certification. That changed on January 1, 2011 when the ARC began giving two-year CPR certifications as well.

Healthcare providers are required to take a more advanced CPR course. Both the AHA’s “Basic Life Support for Healthcare Providers” (often just called “BLS”) and the ARC’s “CPR for the Professional Rescuer” are good for two years.

Class Length

In 2011, the ARC updated their courses and made some big changes.  In the past, the ARC’s courses were significantly longer than the corresponding AHA courses, and this drove many people to the AHA courses.  Now the ARC and AHA courses are about the same length.

Price

In general, AHA courses are slightly less expensive than the ARC’s. However, AHA prices can vary significantly since private companies primarily teach them.

Students are required to buy an AHA course manual ahead of time – and they cost between $10 to $15. Some companies teaching AHA courses include the manual in their course price and some don’t. Find out if the manual is included. If the AHA course manual isn’t included, it can make a big difference on the bottom line.

The ARC includes an excellent skills reference guide with the class price.  The ARC course manual is not included in the course price, but I recommend buying it (about $10) if you want to read in depth about the skills you’ve learned.

Certification Acceptance

If you need a CPR certification, ask whomever is requiring it if they prefer an AHA or ARC certification. Many employers and agencies accept one, but not both.

For healthcare providers, the AHA BLS class is frequently the desired certification by employers. In the San Francisco Bay Area, all of the dental societies I’ve been in contact with only accept AHA’s BLS class. And that appears to be the case with several hospitals as well. But again, ask whoever is requiring the healthcare provider certification which organization they prefer.

About The Author:

Chris Schlesinger’s company In Home CPR teaches on-site safety classes at homes and businesses throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, serving Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, Sonoma, Santa Mateo, Santa Clara and Solano counties.  He offers certifications through the American Heart Association and American Red Cross in CPR, BLS, AED, standard first aid and pediatric first aid.  Visit his websites at CPR Certification San Francisco or CPR Class San Mateo.

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