Have you ever applied for a job that required BLS certification?

“I’m CPR certified,” you say. “But does that count? Am I qualified?”

Sound familiar?…

I get a lot of questions about the difference between BLS and CPR. So, I thought I would take a second to delve into this on a deeper level.

I spoke with our Training and Compliance Manager, Jody Marvin, concerning the topic and this is what he had to say:

The Difference between BLS and CPR

“There is no difference between BLS and CPR,” he said. “BLS is an abbreviation for Basic Life Support. It is simply another term for CPR and leans towards meaning healthcare provider level.”

“But what about when people are doing research online and find comments that seem to suggest it is a different certification?” I asked.

“Most often, when a person is searching online or asking about a BLS certification, they mean Healthcare Provider level CPR,” Jody explained.  “However, BLS is a generic term for any form of CPR. This is especially the case in other countries, like the UK. Basic life support refers to maintaining an open airway and supporting breathing and circulation without the use of equipment other than a protective device.”

Why is there so much confusion about the terms BLS and CPR?

“So, then if it’s the same, why is there still so much confusion about the terms?” I asked him.

“Where confusion comes from is that the term BLS has traditionally been associated with Healthcare Provider level CPR,” he answered. “The American Heart Association certification for healthcare providers is titled, “BLS”. Our equivalent certification is “ProCPR.” The American Red Cross equivalent certification is called “BLS/CPR for Healthcare.” Years ago, the American Heart Association term was BCLS (Basic Cardiac Life Support), or BLS level C.”

It’s about the Course Content

“Okay, so it’s just because of the difference in terminology which makes it seem more complicated than it really is?” I ventured.

“Not quite,” Jody responded. “The real issue is not about the term BLS. Rather, it is about getting to the root of what course content the person needs in order to determine which level of CPR a person needs. For example, healthcare providers need ProCPR (Healthcare provider Adult/Child/Infant CPR/AED level), teachers and daycare providers need ProFirstAid (Lay rescuer Adult/Child/Infant CPR/AED level), general workplace people need ProFirstAid Basic or ProCPR Basic (Lay rescuer Adult CPR/AED level).”

“Ah, okay. Got it. Thanks so much, Jody!”

For more information on all the courses we offer, please visit procpr.org.

Begin CPR/BLS Training


  1. Haley joel

    Thanks for the information, many organization offers BLS and CPR as two different courses, if these both course have no difference then i think they should have a thought on it and make it one.

    1. Katrina

      Hi Haley! You’re very welcome. 🙂 It would prevent a lot of confusion if they did, that’s for sure. Thanks for your comment. Have the best day ever! Cheers!

      1. Silvia

        My boss dont know The difference between both so they called the instructor AHA to confirm my information!?

  2. Matt

    I’m definitely with Haley on this, but I think the major certification providers are the ones who could do the most to help. If the AHA and Red Cross certifications used similar terminology, I imagine that training providers and other organizations would fall in line.

    In any case, I think this post covers the best way to go about connecting people who need training with courses in spite of the terminology: “The real issue is…getting to the root of what course content the person needs in order to determine which level of CPR a person needs.” That was the key takeaway for me.

    Thanks for the great post.

  3. Ashley

    I took the BLS class and the only difference is you have to check for a pulse during CPR

  4. Heather

    so will most places certify you with a BLS or CPR? I was wondering because I have a friend that works at Wellmont and they CPR certified her but I didnt know if every where would do that.

  5. ck

    Great explanation! Thanks.
    Just FYI to make your response sound more professional, you should use “than” instead of “then.” It was confusing when I first read the following sentence: “Okay, so it’s just because of the difference in terminology which makes it seem more complicated then it really is?” I ventured.
    Thanks again for clarifying the issue of CPR versus BLS in such a meaningful way.

    1. CPR Daddy

      Really? Nothing better to do than correct grammar. Could it have been a typo?

  6. ElizaCro

    I really doubt the difference between “then and than ” were truly that confusing, even if used improperly. Our brains are wonderfully adaptive, so often times a correction in grammar signals an ego driven compulsion to try and elevate themselves above others.

  7. Kimberly D. Johnson

    so I can used my CPR license to apply for jobs that say they want a BLS license instead?

Leave a Comment