CPR Technician: Overview of Becoming a CPR Technician

Learn about careers requiring certification as a CPR technician. Research the job duties, and the education and licensing requirements to make an informed decision about starting a career in nursing or emergency medical services.

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CPR certification is a requirement for many careers and involves taking an instructional class that provides certification for two years. For some careers, like nursing or emergency medical care response, CPR certification is one of the prerequisites for further licensure or qualification.

Essential Information

Professionals in many careers, including nursing and emergency medical services, require CPR certification. The first step to becoming an emergency medical technician (EMT) or nurse is to obtain CPR certification. Certification can be obtained by completing a CPR/AED for Professional Rescuers and Health Care Providers course from the American Red Cross. This class is approximately 5.5 hours and examines primary assessment, ventilation, choking and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Upon completion of this class, CPR technicians will be certified for two years.

Career Registered Nurses Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses Emergency Medical Technicians and Paramedics
Educational Requirements Associate degree in nursing (ADN), bachelor's of science degree in nursing (BSN) or professional diploma from an approved nursing program Certificate from a 1-year approved program
Licensure Requirements Must pass the National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX-RN) Must pass the National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX-PN) National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians certification, or state license required
Career Outlook (2014-2024)* 16% 16% 24%
Median Salary (2015)* $67,490 $43,170 $31,980

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Step 1: Complete a Formal Education Program in Nursing

There are two types of programs available for prospective nurses. Licensed practical (LPN) or vocational nurses (LVN) complete a certificate program, which takes about a year. This program examines concepts in nursing and includes clinical rotations.

Registered nurses (RN) complete an accredited bachelor's, associate or diploma program in nursing. While a diploma or associate degree program takes about two years or less, the bachelor's degree program takes about four years to complete. These programs offer a combination of classroom learning and clinical rotations. Coursework examins health promotion, pharmacology, human development and nursing procedures. Within the clinical rotations, students gain hands-on training in several areas including adult nursing care and public health nursing.

Step 2: Earn Licensure

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), registered nurses must be licensed. To become licensed, nurses must take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) for Practical Nurses or Registered Nurses. The requirements for the NCLEX vary by state, but typically include earning a formal education.

Step 3: Career Advancement

After gaining experience, LPNs and/or RNs can choose to advance their positions within the field by completing additional education. Advanced practice nursing positions typically require the completion of a master's degree and advanced training. Special programs are available through 4-year universities that allow nurses to advance within their field. For example, an LPN can complete an LPN to Bachelor of Science in Nursing program to become a registered nurse, while an RN can complete an RN to Master of Science in Nursing program to become an advanced practice nurse, such as a nurse practitioner or clinical nurse specialist.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

From 2014-2024, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted faster than average job growth of 16% for registered nurses and for licensed practical nurses. In 2015, the BLS reported annual median wages of $67,490 for registered nurses and $43,170for licensed practical nurses.


Step 1: Complete a Formal Training Program

EMT programs are available as an EMT-Basic, EMT-Intermediate and EMT-Paramedic. The EMT training levels must be completed in sequential order, meaning an EMT-Paramedic must complete both basic and intermediate training in addition to advanced medical skills.

The EMT-Basic is an entry-level training program that includes about 100 hours of specialized training in assessing patients and using field equipment. The EMT-Intermediate program includes about 1,000 hours of advanced-level training in medication and intravenous fluids. The 2-year paramedic program is the highest level of EMT training and includes about 1,300 hours of advanced training in IV medications and surgical sutures. EMT programs are typically available at community colleges and technical institutes and include ambulance ride along.

Step 2: Gain Licensure

All EMTs must be licensed by their state, according to the BLS. State licensure varies by state; however, typically includes completing a formal program and passing an exam. The most common exam used by states is the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) exam.

Step 3: Maintain Skills

Emergency medical care is an advancing field that requires additional training and recertification. According to August 2012 job postings, employers prefer to hire applicants that maintain their skills by updating their knowledge or participating in professional associations. National associations, like the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians, offer continuing education courses and workshops in areas such as advanced life support, EMS safety and emergency pediatric care.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

In 2015, emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics earned an annual median salary of $31,980, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In 2014, the BLS projected much faster than average job growth of 24%, through 2024.

A CPR technician is a person who has completed a CPR course and has certification for two years. Often, these are professionals qualified in other areas too, such as nursing or emergency medical services. CPR is an important skill for workers in these fields.

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