What are the Different Certification Levels for CPR? A Deep Dive

Getting certified in CPR is always a good idea, as it empowers you to provide vital aid to those in need. However, even though every CPR course is based on the foundational principles of Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, there are different types of courses and certificates for different levels.

Four different levels of CPR certification are generally available, although this might vary depending on your location. Some of these levels are reserved for healthcare professionals and first responders only, primarily because of the specialized equipment required for their successful application in the field.

The point of having different types of CPR certification is to meet a wide range of needs, from individual to professional. Our goal today is to define what are the different certification levels for CPR, go over each of them, and explore their mutual relationship.

What are the Different Certification Levels for CPR

Developing a working CPR skill set is valuable for several reasons. First, you will be equipped to respond with precision and confidence in cardiac emergencies, respiratory distress, or any other critical condition. Next, you will gain a certificate that you will find useful when looking for employment, as many organizations prioritize CPR-certified candidates.

Given the wide range of CPR applications and the even wider range of people looking to get certified, having different levels of certification (and assorted CPR course materials) seems very logical. Each of them has a place in a different setting, from being able to provide immediate care anywhere to anyone in need to saving the lives of patients in complex critical conditions in hospital settings.

CPR Level A: Workplace Certification (Lay Rescuer)

CPR Level A is the most fundamental level of CPR certification, available through many organizations. Most workplaces that mandate CPR credentials expect employees to have this level of certification to meet the requirements.

CPR Level A covers skills related to the execution of essential CPR techniques and protocols for choking and circulatory emergencies. For the most part, this level aims to equip you with the necessary skills to help adults in emergencies. The curriculum is short and precise for a reason: to prevent overwhelming you and to help you develop practical skills to render CPR and first aid at home or in the workplace.

CPR Level B: Child Care Professionals

The responsibility jumps with the shift toward CPR Level B, with the focus of this particular level on giving aid to children in critical condition. The scope of this level extends to cover the use of an automated external defibrillator (AED) in pediatric emergencies, on top of covering all basic CPR principles and protocols.

Since CPR Level B does not include adult treatment methods, it should be considered a supplement to the Level A training. CPR Level B is usually the certification sought by babysitters and nannies and is mandated for those working with children in public institutions, usually educational ones. The skill set is specific, and the subject matter is sensitive, as reflected in the material covered in these CPR courses.

CPR Level C: A Comprehensive CPR Skillset

CPR Level C covers all aspects of CPR for both children and adults. It even extends to infants and covers CPR for older people, with a wide scope of skills included in the curriculums. CPR Level C includes learning two-rescuer CPR skills and represents the most detailed and complete CPR certification available outside the healthcare industry.

Once again, there is an interplay between the different types of certifications. Level C is only available to those certified in the previous levels, as it builds on the knowledge gained from the basics. For certain professionals such as police officers, firefighters, and lifeguards, this level is mandatory and can be taken without any previous first aid knowledge.

Basic Life Support (BLS)

As you might conclude from the name of this certification level, it is designed for more advanced practitioners, mostly healthcare professionals and paramedics. It equips you with the necessary skills for work in hospital settings.

You must demonstrate more advanced life support skills and knowledge to receive a BLS certificate. Advanced and in-depth CPR and AED training is included in the course curriculum, resulting in a Basic Life Support Course Certificate, valid for two years.

Choosing the Right CPR Level for You

As you can see from the relationship between different CPR levels and professions, picking the best certificate depends on various factors. Most notably, your roles and responsibilities determine the type of CPR certification you need, whether for personal use or mandated by an employer.

If you have no experience with CPR, Level A will suit you best as you’ll learn all the basics without going too deep into the complexities of first aid. If your position requires it, or you want to extend your knowledge once you complete Level A, you can enroll in a CPR Level B course. Remember that working with kids during emergencies is extra stressful, so you need to be mentally prepared for it.

If you are well versed in levels A and B, you can explore getting a CPR Level C certification, making you fit for a first responder role. This last one is also an option to get certified in every aspect of CPR in one go, but it will take considerably more time and effort to complete compared to levels A and B together.

While it is best to obtain the maximum level of knowledge and skills to be efficient in helping people during medical emergencies, your personal needs and desires come first. If you are uncertain which level fits you best, try getting a course through your employer.

Can You Get CPR Certified Online?

Nothing beats the traditional in-person setting for learning CPR, but those who cannot find the time for it can always attend online CPR certification courses. They are legitimate, as long as the organization issuing the certificate is, but they will lack the development of a practical skill set.

Online CPR certification offers the same material as in-person classes through instructional videos, articles, interactive quizzes, and assessments. After passing the final exam, you receive an electronic certificate, which you can print. It is important to note that you can only get Level A certification via an online course, as all others require a clear demonstration of a practical skill set that has to be done in a real-life setting.

Your best bet is to go for a mixed CPR certification course, completing the theoretical part using an online platform and the practical one in person under the guidance of a certified and experienced instructor.


Hopefully, you now have a better overall understanding of the different CPR certification levels available. Knowing what are the different certification levels of CPR and what each level has to offer makes it easy to choose the best CPR certification level to begin with. Remember that your choices might also be defined by workplace requirements, especially if you work in specific fields like law enforcement or firefighting or as a childcare professional.

With online courses for CPR certification readily available to get you going, there is no need to put it off any longer. All you need to do is reach out to us, and we’ll assist you in selecting the best CPR certification courses in Milwaukee for you!