Aspiring certified first aid technicians must first complete CPR and first aid training programs. They must also regularly renew their certification by participating in refresher courses.
Training in first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is widely available. Through training programs, students learn life-saving techniques that can be used in medical emergencies. Certification in first aid and CPR demonstrates proficiency in these areas. Prior to starting training for many healthcare professions, individuals must first be certified in first aid and CPR. To become certified, individuals must find training programs, complete classes, and then go through a recognized certification process. To renew or maintain certification, healthcare professionals typically take refresher courses on a routine basis.
|Required Education||Completion of CPR and first aid training programs|
|Other Requirements||Renew certification on a regular basis through refresher courses|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)||EMTs and paramedics: 24%*|
|Average Salary (2015)||EMTs and paramedics: $35,430*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Step 1: Find Training
First aid and CPR courses are available from the American Red Cross (ARC), American Heart Association (AHA), colleges and local fire departments. In some cases, parts of first aid courses can be taken online. Some schools offer health care technician programs that provide students with certification in first aid, CPR and medication administration. Course topics may include nursing concepts, medication administration, pharmacology, CPR and first aid, clinical procedures and anatomy.
Step 2: Take a Class
Courses in first aid and CPR are typically separated into adult CPR, child CPR and general first aid. Many CPR courses also include instruction in how to use an automated external defibrillator (AED). First aid and CPR courses generally last about 1-3 hours each. First aid instruction includes topics in treating burns, scrapes and other injuries. Other course topics may include bandaging and splinting techniques, as well as how to recognize the signs of stroke and heart attack. CPR courses train students in performing CPR in infants, children and adults.
Step 3: Get Certified
The ARC and the AHA offer 2-year certifications in first aid, CPR and AED. Certification is granted to those who successfully take the training courses, pass a test and meet eligibility requirements. To become AHA or ARC certified in first aid/CPR/AED, one must be 11 years or older, although safety courses are available for children as young as eight years old.
Step 4: Renew Certifications and Refresh Skills Regularly
Both the ARC and AHA require certification renewal on a regular basis. Recertification may include a refresher course and a test, or just a challenge test that does not require a review class. Renewal typically must be completed within a year after the initial certification expired. The American Red Cross stated that skills in CPR tend to decline just a few months after taking a course (www.redcrossrefresher.com). The ARC offers online refresher courses, which they recommend those certified in CPR take on a regular basis.
After becoming certified in first aid, workers may consider the next steps in their career paths, which could include becoming an emergency medical technician (EMT) or a paramedic. To get into these careers, students will need to complete coursework and participate in clinical training programs, and they will also need to pass nationally administered licensure exams. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job openings for EMTs and paramedics are expected to increase by 24% between 2014 and 2024. Records from the BLS also indicated that the average annual salary earned by EMTs and paramedics during 2015 was $35,430.
Individuals who complete official CPR and first aid training requirements can become certified first aid technicians. This training could prove useful for gaining admission to EMT and paramedic programs.