In the United States, the two main providers of adult CPR instruction are the American Red Cross and the American Heart Association. Each offers slightly different training, and the requirements for gaining certification are somewhat different. Some employers and government agencies require certification from one provider in particular, and do not recognize the training from a non-approved provider. AHA certification, for example, is more likely to be accepted for employment in hospitals, according to CPRCertified.com.
Both providers offer multiple levels of training. These are generally divided between CPR and automated external defibrillator, or AED, training for laypeople who want a basic course, and basic lifesaving skills, or BLS, for professional rescuers. BLS is oriented toward police, firefighters, paramedics, nurses and other health care workers, such as doctors and dentists. The American Heart Association is, according to CPRCertified.com, widely regarded as the definitive provider of standards, as the AHA conducts research in addition to setting standards that other providers follow.
The American Red Cross offers classes that typically last between two and five hours, and provide certification that's valid for two years from issuance. According to the American Red Cross, the training combines direct instruction with a hands-on skills verification using CPR dummies and other equipment.