BLS vs CPR – The Difference Between BLS and CPR (Hint: They're not the same)


One common challenge for people seeking a CPR vs. BLS certification is figuring out whether BLS and CPR are the same thing.

In terms of a medical emergency, BLS (which stands for Basic Life Support) typically involves care that falls outside the scope of something one would learn in a general CPR course.

A BLS course might cover topics like administering oxygen, team approach, and in-hospital procedures.

In the context of a healthcare certification class, a course noted as BLS is usually geared more toward professional rescuers, like nurses, paramedics, and lifeguards vs. a CPR course which is for anyone looking to learn life-saving knowledge and techniques.

There are a variety of different ways one can become certified in either BLS or CPR, with the latter being available through local community-organized classes.

With the understanding that BLS is not the same as CPR, you can obtain either certificate online via distance learning and remote testing. CPR and BLS classes are typically modeled after guidelines proposed by the American Heart Association.

BLS - Basic Life Support

Performing basic life support

BLS and CPR classes and certifications cover several concepts typically required for professional rescuers, including those that address certain unique situations such as pre-hospital and in-hospital care. The core curriculum covered in most BLS classes is the same thing as CPR and includes further topics like:

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CPR - Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation

Performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation

CPR coursework for the layperson or non-professional rescuer covers various fundamental life-saving procedures. However, CPR is not the same as BLS. CPR vs. BLS typically covers the following basic details

  • First aid basics
  • Injury and environmental emergencies
  • Preventing illness and injury
  • Adult and child choking procedures
  • Basic adult and child CPR and AED use

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Another difference between BLS and CPR is that CPR classes are designed for different needs and requirements.

For instance, there are CPR courses that do not even offer certification. These are ideal for the layperson who does not need to obtain knowledge of life-saving techniques for their profession but chooses to do so for personal reasons, such as new parents.

For those who require certification such as individuals working in childcare, in-person or online classes are available.

The Online Option

online CPR and BLS certifications

After learning the differences between CPR vs. BLS, many choose to pursue their medical certifications through the convenience and flexibility of online courses.

This option is ideal for busy professionals who do not have the time or the budget to attend training in a traditional classroom setting.

In many cases, someone who knows BLS is not the same thing as CPR and is required to become CPR-certified may instead choose to pursue their BLS certification because it is a much more complete and comprehensive option.

Understanding the difference between BLS and CPR and figuring out which coursework is correct for you will ultimately depend on why you are taking the class and how you will apply the knowledge and experience you gain.


In most cases, if medical certification is necessary for work purposes, your employer will advise you on precisely what certificate you need to obtain. It can be CPR, BLS, or even both.
CPR and BLS certifications expire every few years, so regular recertification will also be required. You can do this entirely online as well.

Now that you know BLS is not the same as CPR, you’re ready to get whichever certification you need from ProMed Certifications.

Contact us now to learn more about how to get your BLS, CPR, or other professional medical certification right from the comfort of your home, on your own time, and suited to fit your budget.