How To Earn First Aid & AED Certification

First aid and AED certification teaches skills that can save lives. Learn how to earn this certification and what jobs require it.

portrait of Marisa Upson
by Marisa Upson

Published on April 22, 2022 · Updated on May 5, 2022

Edited by Madison Hoehn
Share this Article

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Ready to start your journey?

How To Earn First Aid & AED Certification
Image Credit: Mihajlo Maricic / EyeEm / Getty Images


In first aid and AED certification, participants learn the skills that can save someone's life. These skills include the steps to take in emergencies before medical personnel arrive. Common topics include cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and first aid for burns, bleeding, shock, and respiratory emergencies. Students also learn how to use an automated external defibrillator (AED).

While many healthcare professionals earn first aid and AED certification, the learned skills apply to many other jobs and careers. In fact, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends that all workplaces have at least one employee with CPR and first aid certification. Additionally, first aid and CPR were two of the most in-demand certifications in Indeed's 2020 job postings.

Childcare providers, coaches and personal trainers, teachers, social workers, and flight attendants may need this certification.

What Are the Requirements for First Aid and AED Certification?

Candidates must meet only a few requirements to earn first aid and AED certification. The American Heart Association reports that children as young as nine may learn CPR skills, but the association does not set a specific age requirement. As of 2018, about 39 states require students to learn CPR before earning their high school diploma.

There are no minimum age requirements for first aid, CPR, and AED certification. The Red Cross typically combines these certifications into one program. The only requirements include the following:

What Skills Will I Learn With First Aid and AED Certification?

  1. People learn how to use an automated external defibrillator. An AED sends an electric shock in an attempt to restart a person's heart and brain functions. Most public places keep these machines available in case someone experiences sudden cardiac arrest.
  2. Training teaches learners how to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation. CPR is performed after delivering the first shock or used exclusively if no AED is available.
  3. Treating first aid emergencies such as burns, cuts, and overexposure to heat and cold is another training topic.
  4. People study the actions to take in cases of poisoning or allergic reactions to food, bites, or stings.
  5. They also study the steps to take in cases of muscle, bone, or joint injuries. This includes fractures, dislocations, sprains, and strains.

Is First Aid and AED Certification Worth It?

Yes, first aid and AED certification is worth it. This certification teaches learners how to help people in emergencies, such as accidents, choking, and slips or falls. Participants also learn the correct steps to take should someone experience sudden cardiac arrest.

Like many professional certifications, this credential can also help an applicant's resume stand out in a competitive job market. Though not always required, almost all work environments could benefit from an employee with CPR, AED, and first aid skills.

Along with the previous positions mentioned, firefighters, lifeguards, correctional officers, nursing home staff, and security guards may need certification.

What Jobs Can I Get With First Aid and AED Certification?

Many positions benefit from first aid and AED certification. The following roles may require it.

Fitness Instructor

Fitness instructors lead group exercise classes or instruct individuals in exercise activities. These classes may involve cycling, aerobics, kickboxing, yoga, or specific types of dance. Most instructors earn certification in their type of training. Almost all gyms also require instructors to hold an AED, CPR, and first aid certification.

According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), fitness instructors earned a median annual wage of $40,700 in May 2021.

First Aid Instructor

First aid instructors educate people on the emergency care they can give to an injured person. These instructors may work for the American Red Cross, the American Heart Association, government agencies, and other nonprofits. Candidates also need instructor training and certification.

Payscale reports that the average salary for those holding American Red Cross instructor certification was $51,000 as of April 2022.

Community Health Worker

Community health workers typically work with community members, making healthcare referrals and conducting outreach programs. They may discuss a person's health concerns, provide basic health services such as weight and health checks, and educate them on available healthcare services.

The BLS reports that these workers earned a median annual salary of $48,860 in May 2021.

Lifeguard

Lifeguards watch swimmers at beaches, pools, water parks, and other aquatic areas. They are trained to recognize swimmers in distress and rescue them. Most positions also require a lifeguarding certificate.

According to the BLS, lifeguards, ski patrol, and other recreational protective service workers earned a median annual salary of $25,630 in May 2021.

Childcare Worker

Childcare workers typically work for child daycare services or provide care in their homes. They supervise children, ensure their safety, and help them develop through play and other techniques. Some states and employers require childcare workers to hold the child development associate credential.

The BLS reports that childcare workers earned a median wage of $27,490 per year in May 2021.

How Much Money Can I Make With First Aid and AED Certification?

Salaries for those with first aid and AED certification vary dramatically by position, location, and level of experience. People who earn this certification can work in healthcare, retail, security, food service, law enforcement, and many other industries.

According to Payscale, people with AED certification earn an average yearly salary of $51,000 as of April 2022, while those with first aid certification make $57,000. The average wage for people holding CPR certification came to $63,000.

Frequently Asked Questions About First Aid and AED Certification

Is AED the same as First Aid? true

No. AED is not the same as first aid. AED certification teaches students how to use an automated external defibrillator. These machines, along with CPR, offer the best chance of survival for persons experiencing cardiac arrest. Cardiac arrest occurs when a person's heart suddenly stops beating.

Students taking first aid certification training learn how to provide care in emergencies until medical experts arrive. This may include cleaning cuts, treating burns, and counteracting poisoning or allergic reactions. Additional instruction includes what to do for someone experiencing a heart attack, seizure, stroke, or spinal injury.

How long does it take to get AED certification? true

A CPR, AED, or first aid certification course is typically about three hours long. Many programs offer combined CPR, AED, and first aid certification. Combined, they can take about 4-6 hours to complete, depending on the instructor and class size.

Students may also take a hybrid course which consists of learning course material online and then attending one hands-on skills session. Some students also take 100% virtual training that includes a one-on-one instructor-led video practice and skills session.

How long does AED certification last? true

CPR, first aid, and AED certifications last two years. You may take a shortened renewal course before your AED and first aid certification expires. This enables students to brush up on their techniques and learn the latest first aid and CPR information. These classes extend your certification for another two years.

If a person's certification has expired, they will need to start fresh and retake a comprehensive first aid and AED course. Make sure to check with your provider regarding options for recertification.

Explore the complex issue of academic freedom, and understand how it impacts what and how subjects are taught in today's college classrooms. Earn an associate degree in health science. Learn about career opportunities and how to choose an online associate degree in health science. Online certificate and diploma programs offer a flexible, affordable option for today's student. Learn how you can earn a degree while balancing work, family, and fun.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Compare your school options.

View the most relevant school for your interests and compare them by tuition, programs, acceptance rate, and other factors important to find your college home.