Our accredited certification coursework complies with the cognitive guidelines of the AHA®/ECC, ILCOR, and OSHA for community and workplace requirements, although a hands-on component may be required for certain workplaces and situations.*

December 20, 2019 BLS

The difference between BLS certification and CPR certification is subtle and it can be tricky to understand who needs a BLS certification and who does not. To put it simply, medical professionals always need to be BLS certified, whereas individuals in professions outside of the medical field may only require training in CPR.

Many employers will offer workplace BLS training and some do not, however, it’s important to know who needs which type of training. Continue reading to learn more!

Do physicians need to be BLS certified?

All doctors should be certified in BLS in order that they can respond to life-threatening emergencies, regardless of whether they practice medicine at a hospital or a family clinic. However, most doctors who work in hospitals will have a higher level of certification than BLS called Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS). This ensures that they have undergone specialist training in order to provide critical and emergency care.

Are nurses and medical assistants BLS certified?

Like doctors, nurses who deliver lifesaving critical care in hospitals are likely to be ACLS certified. BLS is the minimum certification required for nurses but usually they will need to be top-level ACLS certified too. Nurses are often the first to respond to emergencies in hospitals, which is why they must have advanced certification in life support.

Medical assistants are different to nurses in that they are not usually the first to respond to emergency cases. However, they may still play a vital role in emergency life support when it is required of them. As a result, they should be BLS certified in order that they can provide basic lifesaving treatments when necessary.

Do EMTs and paramedics need BLS certification?

Since paramedics and EMTs tend to be the first on the scene when it comes to medical emergencies outside of hospitals, it is vital that they have BLS training. Usually the BLS certificate is part of the initial training for emergency caregivers, but it is not unusual for paramedics to undergo advanced life support training to help them provide more complex emergency care.

Should dentists be BLS certified?

The need for dentists to have a BLS certification varies from state to state. Dentistry licenses must be periodically renewed, and in order to do so dentists must complete a specific amount of education hours. In some states the Dental Board will count BLS certification as part of these education hours. It can be incredibly useful for dentists to be trained in basic life support should a medical emergency occur while a patient is in their care.

Do non-medical emergency service professionals need BLS certification?

It is not uncommon for firefighters to be the first on the scene during emergencies where people need medical care, so they need to be able to deliver life support when necessary. Both voluntary and professional firefighters need BLS. In some cases firefighters will also need to be certified paramedics, in which case BLS or even more advanced life support certifications may be essential.

Police officers also deal with many emergency situations in which medical care may be required. They should be capable of delivering basic life support until professional medical help can arrive on the scene. The requirements differ from state to state but police officers usually require either CPR, First Aid or BLS certification. Since BLS is more advanced than CPR, it tends to be accepted by all police departments.

Do teachers, coaches or childcare providers need BLS certification?

There are many other professions in which it is either necessary or preferred to be trained in CPR. Such professions include teachers, childcare providers, sports coaches, personal trainers, and safety officers. BLS certification is not usually necessary in these non-medical fields, however it might be a valuable qualification to have. It could prepare these professionals for dealing with common injuries or conditions other than cardiac arrest, boost their confidence in performing CPR and other treatments, and make their CVs more appealing to prospective employers.

What to read next:


CPR: The Life-Saving Symphony

11 January 2024

In the orchestra of medical emergencies, Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) stands as a profound symphony –

cpr, sports, k-12, coach, instructor

CPR Certification for K-12 Sports Participants

28 September 2023

Obtaining a CPR Certification for K-12 Sports Participants Whether you’re an instructor, coach, student-athlete, or

Save up to 40% when you certify today!
The Smarter Way!
Select Your Course to Get Started

Share with your friends and help them