Do you need to complete a BLS certification? Are you wondering what options are available for certification near you? The first thing to do is to determine clearly what type of training or certification you need. Are you simply looking for basic CPR and first aid training? Are you looking to fulfill the requirement of an employer? If you are in need of fulfilling an employment training requirement, talk to your human resources department first to find out the specifics of what is required so you can make an appropriate decision about the course you register to take.
After you have determined the kind of course you need, you will have a range of possibilities available to consider for completing your certification. We have compiled a list of our top ten suggestions of different options available, both online and in person, to complete your BLS certification. These can give you some direction in finding the best course offering for you based on where you live and what learning style you prefer.
There are three basic types of BLS courses available to choose from. First, there is the most traditional, which is in-person training. The entire course is completed in a live classroom setting with an instructor. The second option is what the American Red Cross calls simulation learning, and other organizations call hybrid learning or blended learning. This is a combination of some online learning modules, which may include quizzes and interactive simulations, with an in-person or remotely viewed skills assessment session with an instructor. The third option is a fully online certification course with no hands-on skills demonstration component. The American Heart Association discusses many of the benefits of eLearning on their website.
Our top ten recommendations include options in all three of these formats. Depending on your schedule, where you live, and learning style, the appeal and availability of each of these options may vary.
- American Red Cross
The American Red Cross has chapters all over the country offering a wide variety of emergency care and first aid courses from babysitting to canoe & kayak safety, and obviously including BLS certification for healthcare providers. They are one of the leading safety training organizations in the country, training over 9 million people in the US each year. The Red Cross has hundreds of chapters across the country that offer these courses. You can visit their website to find the chapter that is closest to you and use their search engine with the BLS course criteria to narrow down the offerings to specifically what you’re looking for. You can also add date ranges if you need to complete your certification within a certain time period. In addition to completing a course at the American Red Cross chapter that is nearest you, they also offer the option to send their instructors to your workplace or community center if you have more than eight people who need a certain training. They also offer the blended learning option with online elearning followed by a skills practice and testing in-person with one of their certified instructors.
- Health Care Center
As part of new employee orientation, as well as on an ongoing basis, health care centers require all of their employees to have some level of training regarding bloodborne pathogens, CPR, and other life-saving techniques. Due to this high need of regular training and recertification for their staff and medical providers, many health care centers offer in-house certification programs including BLS. Health care centers is this section would include large hospitals, community and speciality clinics, and children’s hospitals.
For example, Blanchard Valley Health System in Ohio offers a BLS course two to three times each month. At least one these courses per month is offered in the morning, and one course is offered in the evening in order to meet the scheduling needs of busy professionals. These courses are open to anyone needing BLS certification and cost $50. They take up to twenty students per course, offering a small enough class setting that each student can have sufficient individualized attention from the instructor.
Contact your local health care center to find out more information about their course offerings, whether they offer them to the public, as well as scheduling and pricing details.
- Local university
Colleges are a great place to research BLS certification course offerings for several reasons. First of all, many colleges offer some kind of degree in the medical field such as nursing, physician assistant, dentistry, emergency medical technician, etc. As these students begin internships and other professional opportunities, they are often required to have a BLS certification. So the college may offer these courses for students. Similar to health care centers, colleges also might have requirements of their employees to maintain BLS certification and thus may offer the courses on campus as a more convenient option for their faculty and staff.
Some states have a higher concentration of schools, but there’s no need to worry if you do not live near a large public university. These courses are offered at many community colleges and small public and private universities as well. As an illustration, The University Hospital in Newark, New Jersey, through their Community Training Center, offers in-person BLS certification courses every two to four days each week. Their certification course costs $80 and is open to roughly thirty students per course. You can use the American Heart Association’s search engine to find a college or university near you that offers BLS certification courses. University and college websites are sometimes a little difficult to navigate, or may not have all the information you need, so using the AHA course search engine is helpful because each listing includes contact information for the person organizing the course.
- Fire department or EMS center
Most cities and towns have at least one fire department or emergency response center. BLS certification courses are commonly offered at these locations since Emergency Medical Service (EMS) providers and firefighters must be current on all their First Responder certifications. Riggs Ambulance in California, for instance, offers BLS certification courses to First Responders and Medical Service Providers the first Saturday of each month at 8:00 am for $60. Sometimes fire departments or ambulance centers partner with local public schools or community centers to offer CPR courses to the public, but these are generally not certification courses, but rather trainings for the general community. There are many different ways to find out if a course such as this is offered in your area. Calling the non emergency number for your local fire department or emergency response center and asking directly is one of the easiest. Online searches are also helpful, but using the correct keywords is the key to making this type of search efficient. Checking with your local city or county offices is also a way to find out what options are available in your area. It is important, however, to make sure the course you sign up for correctly meets your needs or employer requirements.
- Emergency Cardiac Care (ECC) business (listed on AHA or Red Cross website)
If you live in an urban area or somewhere with a high population of health care providers and professionals who require BLS and other Emergency Cardiovascular Care (ECC) training, you may have access to a local business dedicated solely to ECC trainings and continuing education certifications.
One of the benefits of these training centers is the frequency and availability of courses. For example, Safegard Services in Washington state offers BLS certification courses four times a week for $55 at their center. Additionally, they offer mobile services, bringing their training materials and instructors to your workplace or other setting for a more convenient option for a group of people who all need the same training.
Also, most ECC training centers like Safegard Services offer hybrid options with online modules that can be completed at your own pace from home or the workplace, which are followed by a skills test in-person at their facility. The hybrid option at Safegard Services is $69. Having both these options makes ECC training businesses a great choice for completing your BLS certification. Also, their class sizes tend to be smaller so you receive high quality interaction and feedback from the instructor.
- Applied Technology College
This option is similar to the second option we suggested above, getting your training at a local university. Applied technology colleges focus on trade-based certifications and degrees which quite often include professions in the medical field such as nursing assistant, emergency medical technician, paramedic, pharmacy technician and more. Many of these students need ECC certifications for their field, and as a result, most applied technology or technical schools will offer BLS certification courses.
A great example is Manatee Technical College in Florida, which has a Community Training Center that is dedicated to CPR and ECC type trainings for both professionals and the greater community. BLS certification courses at Manatee Tech are offered for $40 the first and second Wednesday of each month. They also offer the hybrid online option with the in-person skills testing cost of $20 and are scheduled individually by contacting the school (the online portions of this certification in this case would have a separate cost).
- Compliance Training Center
Since Human Resource departments have a heavy responsibility of maintaining current trainings and certifications as appropriate for all their employees, and since many companies have hundreds or even thousands of employees, businesses have been created whose primary focus is compliance training across multiple sectors. For example, a company called Cintas offers a wide variety of compliance courses including CPR and AED training. Cintas claims to be the largest national provider of AHA CPR and First Aid training. They offer both the hybrid option with online module training followed by the in-person skills test, as well as the complete in-person training. Pricing and availability can be obtained by contacting a Cintas representative.
Businesses like Cintas are available in many places across the country, and you can find out whether there’s a location near you by using the American Heart Association training center search engine. Many of them have a national presence, so doing a general internet search for compliance training centers in your area could be useful as well.
- OnlineAHA.org (with skills testing at one of the above locations)
Many of the above options, as we have mentioned, offer in-person class instruction as well as the blended learning model with the first part of instruction given online followed by an in-person skills practice and then a skills test. You can complete the first part, termed cognitive learning, anywhere you have access to a computer and the internet. Once you have completed the cognitive learning, you can use the AHA training center search engine to find a location, like those listed above, or potentially others as well, where you can complete your skills practice and skills testing. The search engine allows you to look specifically for locations that offer the skills portion versus locations that offer the entire BLS certification course in-person.
The online portion through OnlineAHA.org costs $22 to complete by itself. However, we recommend first deciding where you want to do your skills practice and testing, because they may have a package price that includes the online portion. In order to avoid paying for the online portion twice, touch base with the site where you will do the in-person portion, schedule your time, and find out how they work the payment for each portion.
Click here to find a training center near you. Prices will vary by location.
EnjoyCPR.com is a viable option because it is widely available in the Eastern US and Pacific Northwest. They’re one of the largest providers of AHA certification courses, and have trained over 300,000 people across the country. They offer classes for the general public (teachers, camp counselors, moms and dads), or they offer the option of scheduling a private group class at various locations depending on your preference, including a workplace or community center (i.e. construction company, bank, church, hotel, restaurant, etc). Their courses range from $45-$160 per participant depending on various factors. You can do a search on their website of the locations nearest you and details about scheduling and prices. EnjoyCPR.com also offers the online/in-person blended learning model. Another benefit of EnjoyCPR.com is that if you are unsure about which certification training you need, their website has a comprehensive list of professions that would require BLS certification. You can also read the reviews of thousands of past students and companies from all over the country who have been trained by EnjoyCPR.com to get an idea of what their classes are like and whether it is a good fit for you.
This course would only be a viable option for professionals in the healthcare industry who have previously been BLS certified and need to get recertified. These could include, but are not limited to Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs), Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVNs), police personnel, firefighters, forest service employees, and lifeguards. ProCPR.org’s training was designed, as they state on their website, “for experienced professionals who are familiar with CPR and seeking to refresh their knowledge and receive updates.”
Their online certification course is just that, a complete online course that utilizes their trademarked Single Use Manikin Option (SUMO™). The SUMO™ is an inexpensive manikin that can be delivered to the home or place of work for hands on practice and skills testing. This completely online option utilizing the SUMO™ is fully AHA-compliant. After the manikin is delivered, and through the use of video conferencing, you can complete the skills training portion while an instructor watches and interacts with you from their computer.
Both of ProCPR.org’s Health Care BLS courses can be taken online for about $50. For remote skills testing and complete certification—which requires a computer, a connected video device, and a high speed internet connection—the courses range in price from about $70 to $100, which includes the manikin.
Additionally they have training videos on their website you can watch for free to stay current on your skills.
As you can see, you have many options to choose from depending on your location, preferred learning style, and time frame. The ten we’ve listed here are certainly not your only options. In addition to what we’ve suggested here, there are many more available to view through the AHA’s training center search engine.
If you know you have a BLS certification or renewal deadline date coming up, don’t put it off! Find and schedule your training. The courses in many of these places fill up fast, and you can put your employment at risk if you neglect to maintain your certifications. Additionally, if your certification expires before you take a renewal course, you may be required to take the entire course over again, rather than just the renewal option, which might take more time and money. You have plenty of options to choose from regarding the location and learning style for your BLS certification. Take the time to peruse your options so you make the choice that is best for you.