Difference between AHA and Red Cross CPR Training Programs -

Difference between AHA and Red Cross CPR Training Programs

What’s the difference between American Heart Association and Red Cross CPR training? Which one is right for you?

Both offer a wide variety of courses that help save lives, so the choice depends on your individual need. Be aware that some employers require a specific certification. Although programs are available from other sources such as the American Safety & Health Institute, MEDIC, and the National Safety Council, the most widely utilized providers are the American Heart Association and the Red Cross. To be compliant with Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards, hands-on instruction and evaluation are required for certification. Both organizations offer two-year CPR certification for laypersons and healthcare professionals, with different options for renewal. Courses are provided online, in the community, at the workplace, and via a blend of online and classroom settings. CEUs are available for selected courses. Training materials are available in several languages. Teachers can choose among school programs to help students learn about basic emergency response at an early age. If you’re interested in learning to become a CPR instructor, you can become certified through either the American Heart Association or the Red Cross, but classes are often presented only a few times a year in centrally located cities, and cost upwards of $250.

Cost is always a question, but there’s not a simple answer. The most economical way to become certified is generally through your workplace. Fees otherwise vary depending upon the independent business hosting the training. Urban centers typically charge more than rural locations. Although online training is readily accessible, skill demonstration must be performed on-site for certification. The frequency of classroom sessions varies according to location and type of CPR desired.

Let’s look at the differences between the two organizations. The American Heart Association, combined with the American Stroke Association, is devoted to eradicating cardiovascular diseases and stroke. Founded in 1924 by six cardiologists, the AHA advocates for improvements in public health policies and raises funds for research. It holds the gold standard for the CPR guidelines followed by most other training programs. In general, the American Heart Association’s CPR classes include more technical information like physiology and pharmacology. The AHA offers additional in-depth classes on medical topics such as atrial fibrillation, ECG interpretation, and pediatric emergency assessment and stabilization. Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS) certification is available as well as an advanced course designed for experienced providers interested in expanding their critical thinking skills and decision-making strategies in more complex emergencies. AHA classroom time tends to be longer for professionals because of the need for information “resuscitation” due to the “deterioration of skills” over time. The American Heart Association is proud of its online eSimulation technology providing interactive experiences for students to engage in lifelike scenarios. The CPR Anytime ® kit can be purchased to teach general core skills in less than half an hour. To give you an idea of fees for certification, one rural AHA Training Center in southwestern Ohio charges $35 for layperson CPR/AED with the choice of an online or hard copy book and a paper card. First Aid is a separate course costing $45. BLS for healthcare providers runs $65. For more information, visit http://www.heart.org/cpr, or call 1-800-AHA-USA-1 (1-800-242-8721).

The American branch of the Red Cross was founded by nurse Clara Barton and a group of supporters in 1881, inspired by Swiss activist Henry Dunant’s humanitarian work which ultimately led to the origin of the Red Cross and the first Geneva Convention. It is known for its community-oriented classes that include pet first aid, sports safety, wilderness survival training, babysitting skills, and disaster readiness in addition to CPR. The organization reports that its digital certificate is the first of its kind, allowing easy access to certification and training history online. CPR classes provided by the Red Cross generally last 2-4 hours and include free online refreshers. A special Emergency Medical Response Program is available for people who plan to take the National Registry EMR Exam for entry into fire technology and EMT programs. In a sparsely populated area, a lay CPR/AED certification class might run $55, increasing to $70 with the addition of First Aid, and $85 with specialized information involving pediatric patients. Professional rescuers might pay $110 for their certification. Materials are available in hard copy form or online. For more information, visit http://www.redcross.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

Over the years the accepted protocol for cardiopulmonary resuscitation has changed, and it is sure to change again. Supporting the goal of universal guidelines worldwide, the International Consensus on CPR and Emergency Cardiovascular Care Science Conference meets every five years to provide an international forum for nearly 250 medical professionals, researchers, and educators to update current practices.

Because of the number of choices as well as the possibility of change, questions about CPR course details, scheduling, and fees should be addressed to your local organization.

Whichever CPR class you choose, you are sure to be prepared to save lives.











Comparison Chart

Here’s a quick comparison chart of courses between AHA and ARC.

CPR training courses American Heart AssociationAmerican Red Cross
Basic Life SupportYesYes
Advanced Life SupportYesYes
Corporate TrainingYesYes
Community CPR TrainingYesYes
Preparedness ProgramNoYes
Instructor TrainingYesYes
CPR training for coachesNoYes
eSimulation technology for online trainingYesNo
Pet first aid trainingNoYes
Hands-Only CPR trainingYesNo
Wilderness and remote first aid courseNoYes
Online CPR/first aid trainingYesYes



  1. Avatar
    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

    • Avatar
      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. Avatar
    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.

  3. Avatar
    September 09, 2015 10:04 Reply

    Interesting blog on red cross cpr training

  4. Avatar
    November 18, 2015 01:10 Reply

    Yup this is bullshit happened to me they didn’t even specify aha over arc. Wasted my money now I can’t sign up for my CNA course! So pissed

  5. Avatar
    November 22, 2016 07:39 Reply

    undoubtedly, red cross training program is better.

  6. Avatar
    shelisha walker
    December 03, 2016 13:04 Reply

    Hi please update ARC does off electronic simulated classes and hands only CPR is discussed.

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    Mrs. Upset
    January 27, 2017 23:46 Reply

    Yes I think AHA and ARC should get together and make it equivalent for all prodessions. I think I am equally knowledgeable with ARC. Eveno more so that I should be able to use it for CNA.

    • Avatar
      Mrs. Upset
      January 27, 2017 23:47 Reply


  8. Avatar
    November 29, 2017 22:24 Reply

    Different workplaces have different requirements – some require AHA BLS, some only CPR (and usually any CPR course with hands on skills will suffice), and some require First Aid. You waste money to take a course that won’t be accepted by your employer.

  9. Avatar
    December 08, 2017 00:32 Reply

    I appreciate how you say that you need to take cost into consideration when getting CPR certified. Finding out what different classes are offered would be a good way to do this. My dad wants to get certified just in case he needs it, so he’ll have to consider the cost of the class.

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