CPR vs. ACLS Certification: Understanding the Differences

When it comes to certification courses, many people, even healthcare providers, may be unsure of exactly which certification they need to take for their job or employment requirements. The differences between certifications like Advanced Cardiac Life Support, Pediatric Advanced Life Support, and Basic Life Support can sometimes become vague, especially for those new to the healthcare field. Let’s discuss the difference between ACLS and CPR certifications in this article.

What Does ACLS Stand For in Medical Field?

ACLS stands for Advanced Cardiac Life Support in the medical field. It is designed to teach healthcare providers the skills and knowledge needed to recognize and treat life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias, such as ventricular fibrillation and pulseless ventricular tachycardia. The ACLS course also covers topics such as airway management, resuscitation techniques, pharmacology, and team dynamics.

What is Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS) Certification?

ACLS is a certification course for emergency medical personnel or healthcare professionals caring for critically ill patients. The course focuses on people in the hospital setting, such as workers in the Emergency Room or Critical Care Unit, because they will be required to have this certification. However, medical-surgical nurses may not be required but are highly encouraged to take an Advanced Cardiac Life Support certification course. According to the American Heart Association website, healthcare professionals that take ACLS will learn the following:

  • Review of Basic Life Support skills
  • Recognition and early management of respiratory arrest and cardiopulmonary arrest
  • Management of peri-arrest, such as symptomatic bradycardia
  • Airway management, including intubation and bag valve mask
  • Management of Acute Coronary Syndromes and Stroke
  • Related pharmacology
  • Effective communication as a member and leader of a resuscitation team

Also Read- PALS VS ACLS – What Are The Significant Differences?

acls and cpr

What is CPR Certification?

A CPR Certification training program teaches you how to perform chest compression with artificial ventilation to preserve brain function and other vital organs until emergency medical personnel can take over to provide advanced treatment. Obtaining just the CPR certification doesn’t require a minimum education level. The certification meets the needs of workplace responders, emergency rescuers, healthcare providers, and the general public. CPR Certification course for healthcare providers covers the following skills:

acls and cpr

What’s the Difference Between ACLS and CPR Certification Courses?

Advanced Cardiac Life Support and CPR certification focus on the proper techniques to save lives during cardiac arrest. But they differ in the level of advancement.

Course Content:

CPR and First Aid Certification is the foundation of your knowledge. It teaches all about the basics of CPR, such as effective chest compression, use of an Automated External Defibrillator, how to treat choking, burns, etc. CPR is a lifesaving skill that you would use when you are outside of a hospital, while Advanced Cardiac Life Support is geared towards professionals who participate in the management of cardiovascular emergencies.

ACLS teaches personnel in emergency response and healthcare professionals how to use a defibrillator properly but also includes learning to read and understand ECGs and emergency-scenario algorithms to follow. In addition, the course covers teaching about how to properly administer medication (oral or intravenous, for example). Other covered topics are how to use intubation materials, glucose machines, and cardiac monitors.


Since most CPR Certification courses teach basic skills, the person performing them is not always a trained medical professional. Courses are commonly taken by yoga teachers, babysitters, fitness instructors, and workplace employees. You don’t have to be a healthcare provider to get CPR certification. Anyone can get it, whatever profession you have. Although most medical professionals are required to take this course, it’s open to the general public. If you work with people daily, it can be a beneficial skill to have. On the other hand, Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support certification is designed for and taught explicitly to healthcare professionals.

Time Needed:

ACLS certification draws on a wide range of technical knowledge and is appropriate only to those deeply experienced in patient care. The course typically lasts two long days due to the training material covered. However, as with CPR certification, it includes several learning methods, and you can complete it in just a few hours.

Take Free CPR, AED & First Aid Practice Test and prepare yourself for the official certification exam.

acls and cpr

How To Get ACLS Certification?

Most hospitals and emergency services within the United States require  through the American Heart Association. But there are several ways to obtain AHA-approved ACLS certification.

Attending a local class is the safest way to obtain ACLS certification. The cost of the course usually ranges from $ 150-200. When looking for a course in your local area, you should make sure to ask if the certification is AHA approved since nearly all hospitals and emergency services in the United States require AHA-approved ACLS certification

Another way to get ACLS certification is to take an online class. Unfortunately, there are quite several certification providers that offer “ACLS Certification” but are not AHA-approved. So you need to be aware of these sites. In addition, most hospitals and healthcare facilities will not recognize these certifications.

Also Read- ACLS vs. BLS: What Are the Key Differences?

Where Can You Take CPR and ACLS Certifications?

The American Heart Association and American Red Cross are two major certifying organizations for basic and advanced life support that hospitals and other healthcare organizations accept. The American Heart Association is a research-based organization that encourages learning about Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation through its research. The American Red Cross and other reputable training centers adhere to the American Heart Association guidelines when developing certification courses and designing training materials.

Learn the difference between CPR certification vs BLS. At CPR Select, we provide different types of online certifications in CPR training, First Aid, and Basic Life Support to meet your level of need. We also adhere to the American Heart Association and Emergency Cardiovascular Care guidelines. After successful completion, you will receive your CPR provider card or certification card instantly.

Also Read- Why Choose CPR Select for your Training?

Key Takeaway:

CPR Certification is helpful for childcare providers, teachers, and the general public who deal with people regularly, although not necessarily in a health situation. However, if you are a healthcare professional dealing with serious medical emergencies, ACLS certification is essential to be a better healthcare provider.

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