Difference between AHA and Red Cross CPR Training Programs -

A Comparison between AHA and American Red Cross CPR Training Programs

In the United States, approximately 80 cardiac emergencies happen outside the hospital. Without the proper skills to perform the necessary response you will not be able to help a cardiac arrest victim in need. One effective way to respond to a person who is suddenly dealing with cardiac arrest, drowning or difficulty in breathing is cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

Overview: AHA and American Red Cross

CPR is a basic life support given to victims of an unfortunate event outside of a hospital. Non-profit agencies like the American Heart Association (AHA) and American Red Cross conduct CPR classes and training to interested students. Teenagers and adults can undergo CPR training and apply for the state licensure exam eventually. However, a lot of people are confused with the difference between the CPR training program offered by AHA and Red Cross, asking which one of the organizations is better. The truth is they are hardly different from each other and both offer intensive CPR training to prepare every student for the real-world, including the certification test.

The best thing about these non-profit organizations is that they both offer classes and training for senior high school students, professionals and other private individuals. The training can be conducted anywhere at your workplace, school or at an area approved by the state. Here is a detailed comparison and contrast of the American Heart Association and the American Red Cross for your reference.

CPR Training Program

American Red Cross offers CPR and AED training to equip individuals with the right practical and theoretical knowledge warranted by the state certification test. The said organization offers both non-certified and certified training selections, as for the fact that even high school students nowadays are eligible for undergoing basic life support training. The CPR training is available both online and classroom-based instruction to allow flexibility on the part of the students who prefer taking the program at their own pace and convenience.

As with the American Heart Association, the organization is particularly committed to advocating the importance of CPR training in the community and conducting research for the betterment of the CPR course program. AHA is an advocate of making the general public become an effective bystander or somebody who is capable of providing a medical response to sudden cardiac arrest victims.

The AHA offers its CPR training program to employees, healthcare providers, instructors of training centers, and community members. The classes are led by an experienced instructor that you can take either through classroom instruction or online. There would be skills training, while for online classes, the course is divided into 3 parts. Similar with American Red Cross, the American Heart Association also has a wide network of CPR instructors and training centers, both domestic and international, where you can pick your preferred CPR training provider nearby. Overall, AHA offers both basic and advanced cardiovascular life support courses, including management of stroke and pediatrics.

One advantage that Red Cross has over AHA is their CPR training program for sports, pets and wilderness. It is where students like coaches are taught with CPR knowledge and skills to be able to respond to emergencies cases that may happen in a sports event, wilderness or to some pets that are in need of medical help. According to Red Cross, the said course was developed to provide students a solid background of first aid and the best practices existing in the industry.

For example, the CPR course for sports coaches is a result of an active collaboration with the First Aid, National Federation of State High School Associations and Health and Safety for Coaches. Red Cross cannot simply discount the fact that children and/or athletes may get injured during their game or training that may require the help of a basic and advanced life support professional. To give you an idea on what the course’s topics are about, it mainly includes the following points:

  • To learn how to recognize when an athlete is unconscious or not
  • Management of injury (head, spine and neck), asthma and other health conditions
  • Recognition and prevention of illnesses caused by extreme heat exposure or temperature
  • Recognition of mental health problems, infections and skin conditions

CPR Training Course Online

When it comes to online training, the American Heart Association uses cutting edge technology to provide a very engaging and interactive class instruction. Students can enroll to HeartCode program, a web-based instructional CPR course. AHA utilizes the so-called eSimulation technology that allows students to virtually evaluate and treat virtual patients in a given healthcare setting. Through this online course, you will showcase your knowledge to your designated patient and study the case to arrive at a feasible solution to the emergency situation. The scenarios preprogrammed at the web-based platform are close to real-life situations to prepare the students when it’s time to put their CPR skills into use in actual emergency conditions.

As with Red Cross’ CPR course online, you can expect undergoing traditional online classes which is self-paced. You can share interactive instruction with your online classmates and instructor through forums, live chats, and audio-visual presentations. The lessons include learning how to properly respond to heart attack and breathing emergencies, soft tissue injuries, disaster preparedness and injuries to bones, muscles and joints. The Red Cross CPR online course will be accessible for two years; however, this course does not qualify you for certification.

CPR Training Course Price

The price of the CPR training program is definitely one of your top concerns. In most cases, price is what breaks the tie between the two great non-profit health organizations and it affects your decision greatly. Whatever your budget is, the important thing is to hire a CPR training provider that has the resources and skills to prepare you for the worst that may come in the nature of your work as a CPR instructor or even as an effective bystander. Although AHA and Red Cross share the same goal and interest, they offer their respective CPR training course at different price rates.

The American Red Cross offers one class of CPR course for $30 to $35. This standard price is good for learning how to provide CPR and first aid to adults, children and infant. For two to three classes, the price could range anywhere between $45 and $55 per head. For first aid, health and safety for coaches, the price is $50 which you can take online. If you want to undergo adult and pediatric CPR/AED training course, price starts at $90 in which you will learn the latest practices done for responding to cardiac and breathing emergencies to patients of any age, from infants, teenagers to adults. Upon successful completion of the said course, you will earn a certificate that is valid for 2 years. Additionally, expect higher price rates for advanced classes like for Emergency Response Team, First Aid instructors or Emergency Medical Technician.

Meanwhile, the American Heart Association’s CPR training program cost ranges from $45 to $50 per student. The said price range is typically offered by the organization’s training centers throughout the country. Apparently the $45 rate is the lowest possible offering, in which the target students are the general public. The rate for this class could go as high as $70 depending on the AHA-certified training center. The length of the class is 2 to 3 hours, where you should be able to learn how to administer first aid and AED to child and adult victims. As for CPR training for healthcare professionals like nurses and doctors, price per class starts at $50. The course covers basic life support lessons to teach students how to perform AED, CPR and abdominal thrust to save victims of choking, cardiac arrest and difficulty in breathing. You can earn a certificate which is valid for 2 years after completing the program requirements of either class.


To sum it all up, included in the table below are the CPR training courses offered by the organizations.

CPR training courses American Heart Association American Red Cross
Basic Life Support Yes Yes
Advanced Life Support Yes Yes
Corporate Training Yes Yes
Community CPR Training Yes Yes
Preparedness Program No Yes
Instructor Training Yes Yes
CPR training for coaches No Yes
eSimulation technology for online training Yes No
Pet first aid training No Yes
Hands-Only CPR training Yes No
Wilderness and remote first aid course No Yes
Online CPR/first aid training Yes Yes


In conclusion, both AHA and Red Cross are great options for taking an intensive CPR classes and training course. Both organizations are dedicated to reducing the number of deaths caused by heart attack in the country, and saving more lives instead. AHA maintains to be aggressive in their advocacy to create public awareness about the positive impact of CPR in the community, while Red Cross trains individuals to be CPR practitioners. This is why both CPR programs of the two organizations are congruent with the latest published CPR literature such as those of the Emergency Cardiovascular Care and the International Consensus on Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation.



  1. Christina
    May 30, 2014 14:55 Reply

    I just submitted all my papers and junk in order to get accepted into my school’s nursing program and i didn’t get accepted because i got certified through American red cross… So now i have to hurry and get certified through AHA before the deadline. Reading this article, it looks like ARC actually covers more (and costs more with my experience) than AHA. what’s up with that? I spent 65 bucks to get certified through arc and i found several courses for under 50 dollars through aha. Ugh!!! What’s the deal?i’s anyone else’s college picky

    • Tori
      June 25, 2014 22:43 Reply

      Christina, I just had this same problem which led me to this article! I took adult and pediatric CPR/AED through ARC thinking that would cover everything and then I found out my nursing program only accepts certification through AHA. SO ANNOYING.

  2. Ross
    June 26, 2014 15:38 Reply

    I just got certified with ARC and it’s really different. I didn’t get any of the sports/wilderness/pets and didn’t even get to learn how to give breaths without a mask. I definitely think AHA is more accurate with how situations might be in real life. How often am I gonna be carrying that mask around with me, not to mention the precious time wasted getting the mask on and trying to seal it.