How to Get a CPR Certification (Step-By-Step Guide and FAQ)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published November 6, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is a life-saving technique used to resuscitate people whose heart stops beating for any reason. Earning this certification can be a great achievement to add to your resume, especially if you work with others or in a public service role. There are options for how to get a CPR certification so that you can become certified on your own terms. In this article, we share steps for how to get a CPR certification, explain the benefits of having this certification, and review answers to frequently asked questions about obtaining this certification.

How to get a CPR certification

Learning how to get a CPR certification can help you increase your confidence and meet goals for your career path. If you're interested in this opportunity, here are some steps you can follow to earn your CPR certification:

1. Research CPR training programs in your area

Start by researching CPR training programs in your area. Look for programs offered by well-known, accredited organizations, such as the Canadian Red Cross. This can help you ensure you receive the proper training and graduate from the program with a certification that qualifies you to work with certain employers. When researching, you might consider other components of the certification, such as:

  • cost

  • time commitment

  • scheduling

  • age requirements

  • pre-requisite knowledge

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2. Enroll and complete a CPR program

Once you've researched the CPR training programs in your area, complete any paperwork or online forms to enrol. Read the course syllabus and requirements carefully so you know what to expect. Before your first course begins, be sure to prepare by bringing a notebook and a writing utensil to take notes. If your CPR training program is in person, you may also want to bring a water bottle and a snack with you, depending on the length of your session.

While some organizations award CPR certifications as soon as you complete the coursework, others require students to pass a final exam. Ask your instructor whether your course includes a test to make sure you're prepared. Some instructors may allow students to use their notes on the final exam.

3. Renew your certification

Depending on the organization that issues your CPR certification, you may require renewing your certification every few years. Review your course materials carefully and make a note of how soon you update your certification. Keep up-to-date with your certification because performing CPR without certification can result in injury.

Benefits of a CPR certification

Learning how to perform CPR can provide benefits, such as:

Saving lives

The primary benefit of becoming certified in CPR is being able to save lives in the event of an emergency. You may perform CPR if someone is in cardiac arrest, drowning, or suffocating. This certification is useful for anyone, especially those who work in high-risk jobs.

Increasing confidence

By learning how to perform CPR and react in emergencies, you can gain more confidence. This is a useful skill that others may admire, which may also contribute to your self-esteem. With an additional certification, you may also feel more qualified to apply for advanced positions. Having the ability to resuscitate people can also help you relax and feel more comfortable taking risks.

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Increasing safety

A great benefit of earning this certification is that by knowing how to assist people who cannot breathe, you can help ensure the safety of those around you. In the workplace, you can increase the safety of your coworkers by having the preparation to respond in emergency situations. Some employers may reward you for having certification by increasing your pay or reimbursing you for the CPR course.

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Building trust in teams

Getting a CPR certification may be a useful team-building activity for managers to consider. Completing the training together may help create a sense of camaraderie. It's also beneficial for multiple professionals in a workplace to know CPR. In companies where being CPR certified is a requirement, it's a good idea to have teams complete training together. Some associations may offer discounts for training large groups so it can be cost-effective. Learning skills together also provides team members with a shared experience.

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Improving skills

This certification can help strengthen your skill set and provide you with skills that you use in other situations. For example, learning CPR can help you become more observant because the training requires you to learn certain signs that indicate someone needs help. Having the ability to respond to emergencies and minimize risks also improves your leadership skills. Other skills you can develop or improve in CPR training include:

  • communication

  • dexterity

  • interpersonal

  • detail orientation

  • decision making

Career advancement

Earning a CPR certification can help you find more career opportunities, as having this certification is an asset for many careers. Even if it's not a requirement for the specific job, you may impress employers with your skills and encourage them to you to contribute to the safety of your work environment. Because a CPR certification course can also teach you other skills, such as leadership and communication, having this qualification can also enhance your credentials in this way.

Frequently asked questions about CPR certification

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about CPR certification to help you prepare to enrol in a program:

How long does it take to become CPR certified?

It depends on what type of program you decide to complete. The in-person training typically includes 13 to 14 hours of instruction over a two-day period. Most of the online classes are self-paced, which means the time it takes to complete them may vary depending on each individual's schedule and availability.

Who takes CPR certification courses?

Anyone over the age of ten can get a CPR certification. Professionals in public service or health-care careers, such as firefighters, nurses, and police, may get a certification to fulfil a job requirement. Those who work outdoors and are at higher risk of drowning, heat exhaustion, or suffocation may also learn CPR to help protect their colleagues, such as miners or construction workers. Lifeguards are also good examples of professionals who require CPR training.

To determine if you might use a CPR certification, consider the people you work with and identify if they're at risk. For example, if you take care of children or the elderly, certification can provide you and their guardians with reassurance.

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What types of CPR and first aid certifications are available?

There are different levels of CPR training available and various first aid certifications you can pursue. Some include:

  • Level A: This is a basic course that teaches you how to respond to choking.

  • Level B: This level is for learning CPR for babies, which makes it useful for caretakers and parents.

  • Level C: This certification is more comprehensive and includes training to rescue infants, children, and adults.

  • Level BLS: This certification is typically for health-care professionals because it requires more life support skills than the other certifications.

  • First aid for mental health: This certification helps you learn how to respond to a mental health crisis, such as a panic attack.

  • First aid for wilderness: This course provides training to perform CPR in remote areas that may not offer the same amenities, such as a flat surface and water.

What do you learn in CPR training?

In CPR training, you learn skills and procedures to resuscitate a person who becomes unconscious, unable to breathe, or whose heart stops beating. When earning a certification, you learn to assess a person by taking the following steps:

  • checking to ensure that a person is unresponsive

  • testing the body's emergency response system by rubbing the sternum

  • ensuring that their airway is clear and not obstructed by anything in the mouth, throat, or nose

  • checking the person's breathing and pulse

  • delivering compressions

If you pursue an advanced or specialty certification, such as level B for infants, then you learn how to properly resuscitate a baby, which includes a slightly different procedure. You can also learn to use defibrillators if you're a healthcare provider or professional with a requirement to use this equipment.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions, or organizations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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