First Aid Certifications: Review of First Aid Certificate Programs

First aid certification courses are commonly offered at community centers, schools, and workplaces, through the American Red Cross and the American Heart Association. Learn about program options, common courses, continuing education opportunities, and career prospects associated with these certification courses.

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Essential Information

In first aide certification courses, focus is placed on injury prevention, but students also learn to react and respond to sudden illness and injuries. In order to receive certification in first aid, students must pass a written examination and complete a skills lab.


American Red Cross First Aid

The American Red Cross offers numerous Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)-compliant first aid courses. Individuals interested in enrolling in a first aid certification program can study specialized areas of first aid, such as standard first aid, basic aid training, children's first aid, community first aid, crisis response first aid, and pet first aid. Some first aid certification programs include online learning and meeting with an instructor for a practical assessment. There are also classroom-based instructions for individuals who prefer interactive learning. These courses last anywhere from three and a half hours to 14 hours worth of material. Topics of study often include:

  • Safety procedures for first aid administration
  • Assessing emergency situations
  • Adult, child and infant CPR
  • Automatic external defibrillator (AED) training
  • Oxygen administration

American Heart Association First Aid Certification

Individuals interested in becoming first aid certified can also pursue the American Heart Association's Heartsaver First Aid course, which can be completed with or without CPR and AED instruction. Optional first aid training for environmental crises is also available. It takes about one and a half to seven and a half hours to complete this course. This institute's first aid courses are generally designed for employees and first responders. First aid school topics include:

  • Identifying shock
  • Checking for breathing obstructions
  • Applying pressure to wounds
  • Burn treatment
  • Splint creations

Continuing Education

American Red Cross first aid certification is valid for three years. CPR certification is good for one year. Students must complete recertification training in order to maintain their first aid completion cards. All American Heart Association first aid and CPR certifications are good for two years. Students must retake courses to maintain first aid certifications.

Popular Career Options

Employers in a variety of occupations sponsor many first aid certification programs. Individuals employed in both public and private sectors can take advantage of first aid certification. Some may be required to possess certification while others may just find value in it. These individuals may include:

  • Police officers, fire fighters, and emergency medical service providers
  • Nurses and medical support staff
  • Lifeguards and fitness instructors
  • Parents and childcare workers
  • Military personnel

Students taking a first aid certification course often learn to assess emergency situations, administer wound and burn care, provide aid as first responders, and perform CPR. In addition, these programs open the door for further certification and education after graduation, and prepare you for a number of healthcare-related jobs.

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