What is ACLS Certification?

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  • Written By: Jessica Ellis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 30 November 2019
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Advanced Cardiac Life Support, also known as ACLS, is a type of emergency medical training focused on life-saving techniques. Many health care professionals hold ACLS certification, which is a requirement in many medical jobs and other positions where life-threatening situations may occur. ACLS certification can be obtained through several programs, including both online and hands-on courses.

To achieve ACLS certification, a candidate must complete several hours of training, which may include research, lectures, and reading components. Following the training segment, a candidate must participate in hands-on work, using special mannequins or working with certified instructors to practice the newly learned techniques. Finally, a person must successfully pass a test that covers both theory and practical issues. In addition to a written component, the test usually requires a physical demonstration of correct technique and procedure.

Courses for ACLS certification are frequently available through community centers, local colleges, and medical training facilities. Most in-person classes will take place over a weekend or a few days, culminating in the certification tests. Online courses can be purchased from certain distance learning programs, including the American Heart Association. Although theoretical coursework is done online in distance learning programs, practical elements will still need to be completed in person under the guidance of a certified instructor.


Some of the skills learned in ACLS training include basic life-saving techniques such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), the Heimlich maneuver, and traditional first aid strategies. Since ACLS training is a fairly advanced course, instruction is also given in more involved techniques such as intubation, defibrillator use, and how to create IV and central lines. Mastery of these techniques is absolutely essential for certification, as incorrect technique can result in further injury or even fatalities.

ACLS certification needs to be periodically renewed. Renewal may be done online or in person, and may involve a review of skills and techniques and a testing portion. Depending on the organization providing the re-certification, a person may or may not be required to do an in-person test in order to have their certificate renewed. In general, ACLS certification needs to be renewed every two years.

There are many different jobs that may require a person to be ACLS certified. While any medical professional who works in an emergency situation or hospital will likely be required to keep certification updated, many jobs outside the medical profession also require ACLS skills. People who work with children, such as teachers, coaches, day care givers, and nannies may need to show proof of ACLS certification. Those that work in professions that involve a high risk of injury or accident, such as lifeguards and firefighters, may also need to undergo certification on a regular basis.


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