In-Person ACLS Certification

The Best Alternatives to an In-Person ACLS Certification Course

An Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) course helps prepare you to care for patients with a variety of cardiac problems. ACLS lessons focus on expanding a student’s knowledge of Basic Life Support (BLS) and the skills you need to care for patients in emergencies, particularly those who are having or are likely to experience cardiac emergencies.

Cardiovascular disease is a major contributor to the American mortality rate. Since it’s often hard to detect, many refer to it as the “silent killer.” Routine screenings can help identify those at risk for cardiovascular disease. Healthcare providers need to understand both the science for treating and preventing the underlying causes, as well as what to do in extreme situations.

An ACLS certification is often a requirement for employment as a healthcare worker. For individuals who want to learn how to better care for patients, ACLS is an ideal course and is often the perfect next step after initially certifying as a BLS provider.

What Is an ACLS Certification?

ACLS training demonstrates basic life support interventions and skills and teaches the underlying science and physiology of the cardiovascular system. Many of the things you learn in an ACLS class will build upon the foundation of other courses, so you may not be able to take an ACLS course without meeting some prerequisites.

You should expect to learn how to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and to do so in conjunction with airway adjuncts and ventilatory assistance from a bag-valve mask (BVM). You will also learn and understand how to be the leader or part of a team performing high-quality CPR, and how to deploy an Automated External Defibrillator (AED).

Why Take an ACLS Course?

Every year, more than a half-million American go into cardiac arrest, and hundreds of thousands die from this condition. Whether they are in a hospital, a home, a restaurant, an office, or out on the street, CPR and other basic treatments can help save their life.

If you’re going to work or volunteer in a setting where you’re likely to encounter persons with a high risk for sudden cardiac arrest, ACLS will give you the tools to try and help these patients. The preparation and practice you’ll receive in the course may allow you to save someone’s life.

The successful completion of an ACLS course will provide you with the skills to recognize both cardiac and respiratory arrest. The class will teach you about early intervention and other conditions that may eventually lead to cardiac arrest so that you can watch for warning signs.

For example, you’ll learn to spot signs and symptoms of bradycardia, a condition in which the heart is not beating fast enough. You’ll learn about pharmacology related to cardiac management and treatment, and airway handling and management. You may also receive instruction in recognizing other life-threatening emergencies.

Alternatives to an In-Person ACLS Certification Course

Before the increase in technology and virtual learning, all ACLS classes were in classroom settings. The courses all had instructors who would lead you through the material. At the end of the course, which could be weeks or even months long, there would be a written test. Each student would have to demonstrate their hands-on skills and proficiency before certification.

For many, the demands of this type of education are too intense. For busy healthcare workers or those starting in the field, a more efficient path to learning essential skills was hard to find. Now, with many more online education opportunities, students can take advantage of remote learning. Some ACLS certifications don’t require any classroom sessions at all.

The American Medical Resource Institute offers a fully online ACLS training course, complete with a free certificate upon course completion. Some more good online ACLS certification courses are available from the following groups:

  • American Heart Association
  • American Red Cross
  • Pacific Medical Training
  • Promed Certifications
  • National CPR Foundation
  • United Medical Association

You must ensure the ACLS certification course you take meets the requirements you are trying to satisfy. Many of these providers also offer a variety of other classes you may be interested in, like first aid, CPR, BLS, Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS), and more.

Who Needs ACLS Certification?

Paramedics, EMTs, nurses, doctors, and other healthcare workers may have employment requirements that mandate their certification in ACLS, as well as other credentials. Requirements vary by employer and location, so it’s always best to know the specific skill you need for your job before signing up for a course.

If you’re unsure, you can always check with a supervisor, co-worker, manager, or someone in the human resources department. This ensures that you won’t waste your time and money by completing a course that doesn’t meet the standards of your job or other activity.

For example, in New York, EMTs must all achieve CPR certification before completing their EMS provider coursework. There are only a few approved education providers, and any other CPR class may not meet state standards.

Therefore, if you think you need ACLS or any other certification, you should make sure the class you’re considering meets your local requirements. It’s also a good practice to look for signs of quality courses, such as:

  • Free supplemental educational resources
  • Ad-free learning environment
  • Science and evidence-based materials that follow the current CPR guidelines
  • Good reviews and a robust customer support team

National and international acceptance and accreditation are the best signs that an ACLS certification course is authentic. You should also expect to receive a course completion record and a card or certificate demonstrating your success at the end of the class.

Take ACLS Courses Online

Once you settle on an ACLS certification course, it’s easy to get started. First, you’ll register for the class. Once you do, you’ll have access to their learning modules. Typically, the materials will include videos and demonstrations that teach the science and skills of ACLS.

You can access these materials remotely, at times of your choosing. This flexibility is a great option for busy healthcare workers and others who wish to avoid commuting to long classroom sessions. Plus, you can digest the materials at your own pace. If you pick one thing up quite easily, you can spend more time on your weaker areas.

Each course will usually have practice tests and quizzes that will prepare you for the final exam. Once you pass the exam, you’ll receive a certificate of completion, proving that you have satisfied the didactic learning requirements of the class.

In some courses, that means the class is over. For those that are blended learning, once you have completed the online portion, you will still need to perform a demonstration of your hands-on skills to an instructor or healthcare certifier.

How To Pass an ACLS Skills Test in Person

Not all ACLS courses are the same. If you want to take one that doesn’t feature any in-person training or testing, you can. Just remember that your prospective employer may not accept a class where you have not proven your competency in performing the hands-on aspect of skills like CPR.

When considering ACLS certification options, look carefully at any requirements you must meet and compare them with the syllabus and outline for the course. If the course is 100% remote and acceptable for your employer, all you need to do is sign up and complete the modules and any testing online.

For some, a blended learning course will be a better choice. You’ll complete all the educational materials and testing online, and then you’ll head to a testing center where a skills evaluator will assess your work. Like any other class, you’ll do a lot of practice, then a review, and finally a skills examination.

Renew ACLS Certification

Once you have an ACLS certification, you must maintain it. Methods, skills, and protocols change, so to stay certified, you need to renew your ACLS training periodically. The renewal process often consists of earning medical education credits and reviewing materials online.

For healthcare providers with a current ACLS certification, an online renewal course may satisfy your medical education requirements. Like an original certification cost, the efficiency of online learning saves you a lot of travel time and lets you learn at your own pace.


While each course will be different, you can find the best alternatives to in-person ACLS certification courses easily. Look for signs of legitimacy, like wide acceptance from professional medical organizations and favorable user reviews. You should also compare the course description to the expectations of your employer.

Online certification makes things efficient and offers an enhanced individual learning experience. Blended learning offers the same benefits, with the added requirement of a skills assessment. Though this added requirement can be a bit onerous, it ensures that you can put everything you’ve learned to use in the real world.

An ACLS certification can only benefit you. Whether you choose to become certified online or through a course, having this skill set will allow you to be the best healthcare worker you can be.

Author Bio for Kate Macmorn

Kate Macmorn

Communications Director


Kate is the communications director for the American Medical Resource Institute, where they’ve trained over a million healthcare professionals to study for, earn and maintain life support certifications that allow them to better respond to cardiac emergencies. When not in the office, you can find Kate practicing her tennis skills. She also frequents live music venues and is always looking for her next creative hobby.

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