Online CPR Instructor Certification, Certificate and Diploma Programs

Get info about online CPR instructor certification programs. Read about program requirements, course topics and degree levels, and check out career and continuing education options.

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Essential Information

Online CPR instructor certificate programs are typically designed as hybrid programs due to the hands-on nature of CPR and other first-aid methods. Coursework may be completed fully online, but students will most likely need to travel to a physical location to complete certain parts of the training. Internet may not be required if an individual is learning the course from CDs. Hands-on skills training is typically required.

These programs are commonly available at different levels for different medical professionals, and an individual seeking to complete a CPR instructor certificate for doctors or nurses would already need to be certified in that profession.

To teach CPR, certification as an instructor is mandatory. Certification is not offered through postsecondary institutions, but these programs will prepare graduates to earn certification through organizations such as the American Red Cross or the American Heart Association.

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CPR Instructor Certificate

The terms cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and Basic Life Support (BLS) are synonymous, and stand for the noninvasive assessment and treatment of patients in respiratory or cardiovascular distress. A range of training programs in CPR or BLS target different audiences, including physicians, nurses, professional rescue workers, lifeguards, caregivers and the general public. The basic CPR procedures are similar for all, and are adapted to take advantage of the educational background of each target group.

Providers generally require applicants of instructor programs to have completed training at the level, and in the subject, they are seeking to teach. For example, an applicant of a lifeguard first aid instructor training course should be a qualified lifeguard with applicable CPR certification for lifeguards. Students may be required to pass a test in the material they will be teaching prior to acceptance into an instructor program.

Information and Requirements

Programs are typically hybrid in approach. Cognitive coursework is either completely online or made available on CD. Courses are self-directed and highly interactive, including detailed simulations, virtual patient assessments and step-by-step feedback. Once students complete the coursework and meet performance goals, they must arrange to travel to one of the provider's facilities for hands-on practice and skills testing. Several providers offer classes nationwide and have numerous training facilities across the country.

Online students need a computer with multimedia capabilities and high-speed Internet access to complete the coursework and exercises. Students working from CDs may be able to complete significant portions of coursework without an Internet connection.

Common Courses

Online CPR instructor training programs share a core group of competencies. Even though applicants are specifically certified in the subject they wish to teach, basic procedures are revisited. Common courses include:


CPR programs review the ABC's: open the patient's Airway, administer rescue Breathing and ensure the blood's Circulation. Students also learn to assess a patient's spine for trauma prior to adjusting the neck, and administer emergency treatment necessary to aid breathing and stop bleeding.


Students learn to recognize the signs of sudden cardiac arrest and are trained in the operation of an automated external defibrillator (AED). AEDs can help diagnose abnormal heart rhythms and treat life-threatening arrhythmias by the application of a measured external electric shock.

Water Safety

Rescuers are trained to respond to injuries in water-based environments, including aquatic, breathing and cardiac emergencies. Subjects covered include basic first aid, CPR, AEDs and oxygen administration.

Core Instructor

This course covers the general competencies for teachers established by the International Board of Standards for Training, Performance and Instruction. Subjects include professional foundations, preparation, instructional methods, assessment and management. Additional subjects can include remediation and cultural sensitivity.

Career Information for CPR Instructors

The ability to teach CPR is more frequently part of a job requirement rather than the sole activity required for a job. Instructors who teach emergency services workers, fire fighters, lifeguards, fitness trainers and park rangers would include CPR training as one part of their curriculum. Some office workers are assigned to emergency service preparedness teams, and learn to teach CPR so they may instruct others within their companies. As such, learning to be a CPR instructor may not be part of job qualifications, but rather a voluntary activity.

Continuing Education and Certification Information

In most cases, emergency workers whose jobs involve training in CPR need to be certified and licensed by their state or county in the CPR subjects they teach. The American Heart Association and the American Red Cross issue guidelines for CPR and offer multiple levels of training and certification through their local chapters or educational partners. Other organizations offer training and certificates of completion, and recognize certificates earned through other agencies.

Instructor Certification is valid for at least two years. The renewal process generally involves taking courses to refresh or update methods and practices. Continuing education courses are often available online.

CPR instructor certification is available in a hybrid format, with students learning online then completing hands-on skills training. Course topics cover recognizing cardiac arrest, performing CPR, using a defibrillator and water safety.

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