A Simple Guide To Becoming a BLS Instructor

Are you looking to teach Basic Life Support CPR in your community or for your workplace? We will break down the steps to becoming a BLS instructor.

What is a BLS Instructor?

Basic Life Support (BLS) instructors are certified to teach adult and child CPR, AED, and First Aid classes. To be successful in this role you will need to be proficient in BLS skills and comfortable teaching in front of large groups. BLS instructors also need good organizational skills to properly facilitate classes and keep track of the required paperwork to properly issue certifications to their students.

How do I become a BLS Instructor?

The first step on your journey to become a Basic Life Support Instructor is to earn your BLS certification. You will be expected to be competent in performing CPR on all ages by yourself as well as with a team. You should know how to use an AED on adults, children, and infants.

BLS Class

While many people already have their BLS provider certification it is important to make sure you have the appropriate BLS certification for the brand of instructor course you may take. For example, American Heart Association (AHA) instructor candidates will need to have an AHA BLS certification card. Likewise, the American Red Cross (ARC) also requires instructor candidates to have taken their BLS certification through the ARC.

Once you have obtained BLS certification, you can look for a BLS instructor course near you. Depending on your location these may be easy or hard to come by. We suggest looking on Class Eagle’s Health and Safety directory for a class near you.

If you are taking an AHA instructor course, you instructor trainer will either send you an ‘Instructor Essentials’ course or direct you to purchase the course through the AHA website. This will need to be completed prior to your instructor class and takes approximately 1.5 hours.

AHA BLS instructor classes should last at least 8 hours to adequately cover all the material and give instructor candidates an opportunity to hone their teaching skills. Regardless of how advanced instructor candidates BLS skills are, there is no way to do an instructor class in less time. Make sure that the class you register for is allotting at least this much time for completion.

Selecting an instructor class with an experienced and vetted instructor is so important. It’s not uncommon to find instructor classes be offered in shorter or less expensive formats. However, often people attending these trainings find themselves ill equipped to teach or confused about their responsibilities. Understanding your responsibilities as an instructor is crucial as someone issuing out certification cards that meet state or medical licensing  body requirements. Improperly issuing certifications is a massive personal liability and has resulted in jail time for people who don’t take this seriously. If you are interested in becoming a BLS instructor you will want to make sure to do it right.

BLS Instructor Course

Upon completion from the BLS Instructors course, instructor candidates will need to be observed teaching a BLS class to receive their instructor certification. Many instructor candidates opt to teach family, friends, or their coworkers to complete this last step.


Can I become a BLS instructor online?

As of 2020, the American Heart Association does allow for virtual BLS instructor courses. However, there are some things to be aware of to make sure you select legitimate training. You will want to first make sure that your course is being taught as an AHA course. There are many people that will advertise that they ‘teach AHA guidelines’ but they are not actually AHA classes.

Next, you will need to purchase all the necessary equipment for the instructor class to be performed virtually. You will need to purchase adult and infant CPR manikins with feedback monitors, an adult bag mask, an infant bag mask, CPR training valve, and an AED trainer.

Please note that all instructor courses, while they can be taught virtually, should be in a live, face to face format. Prerecorded classes are not a legitimate way of performing a BLS instructor course.

How much does it cost to become a BLS Instructor?

We recommend taking some time to budget for the expenses of becoming a BLS instructor. Doing so will give you time to plan classes and recoup your investment as quick as possible.

The costs you should expect to become a Basic Life Support Instructor are:

  • AHA Initial BLS Provider Course: $75-$150
  • AHA Instructor Essentials online course: $35
  • AHA Instructor hands-on/classroom course: $250-$600 (varies by location)
  • Monitoring: $0-$150 (Some Training Centers may include this in the classroom course cost)
  • Total: $360-$935

The cost of this training varies for many reasons. All AHA instructors independently set their own prices. Apart from training material purchased from the AHA, no other income should be misconstrued as income to the AHA. Regardless of what you pay for a class in your area, keep in mind there aren’t many programs you can complete in a day that can earn you an average salary of $50k per year.

What kind of BLS Instructor Certifications are there?

We recommend becoming an AHA BLS instructor. However, the American Red Cross and the Health Safety Institute are also reputable certification brands for BLS. However, across the U.S., the AHA is the most recognized certification. However, you’re not limited to picking one brand of BLS training. There are courses that bridge AHA instructors to become ARC and HSI instructors. If you wish to go that route, we recommend starting as an AHA BLS instructor because the AHA does not allow bridging from other brands to their brand as an instructor.

BLS Instructor Certification

AHA BLS instructors can teach all AHA levels adult and infant CPR, AED, and First Aid. This includes the AHA Heartsaver CPR/AED and First Aid course as well as the AHA Friends & Family hands only CPR course.

How & Where can I start my BLS Instructor course?

The Class Eagle Instructor Directory can help as your one stop shop for CPR classes to find a course that best fits what you are looking for! Lastly, peruse CPR Supply Source for an idea on the costs of CPR equipment prior to becoming an instructor.

For more information, check out this Initial CPR Instructor Set up Guide:

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