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When it comes to choosing a vocational training program, it's important to understand the differences between various certifications and the career opportunities they can provide. Two popular options in the healthcare field are Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) and CPR-BLS (Basic Life Support). While both certifications involve providing care to individuals in need, they differ in their job descriptions, education and training requirements, as well as career outlook and salary potential.

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What is a CNA and CPR-BLS?

Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)

A Certified Nursing Assistant, commonly known as a CNA, is a healthcare professional who provides direct patient care under the supervision of registered nurses (RNs) or licensed practical nurses (LPNs). CNAs work in a variety of healthcare settings, such as hospitals, nursing homes, and home healthcare agencies. They assist patients with activities of daily living, including bathing, dressing, feeding, and toileting. CNAs also take vital signs, such as blood pressure and temperature, and may assist with medical procedures.

CPR-BLS (Basic Life Support)

CPR-BLS, on the other hand, is a certification that focuses specifically on life-saving techniques and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). This certification is typically required for healthcare professionals, such as nurses, doctors, and emergency medical technicians (EMTs). CPR-BLS training teaches individuals how to recognize and respond to life-threatening emergencies, including cardiac arrest and choking. It covers techniques for providing CPR, using automated external defibrillators (AEDs), and clearing airway obstructions.

Difference between a CNA and CPR-BLS

While both CNAs and individuals with CPR-BLS certification work in the healthcare field, there are some key differences between these two roles:

Scope of Practice

  • CNAs have a broader scope of practice and are responsible for providing direct patient care, including assistance with activities of daily living and basic medical procedures.
  • Individuals with CPR-BLS certification focus specifically on life-saving techniques and are trained to respond to emergencies and perform CPR.

Job Setting

  • CNAs work in a variety of healthcare settings, such as hospitals, nursing homes, and home healthcare agencies, providing care to patients and residents.
  • Individuals with CPR-BLS certification may work in hospitals, clinics, or other healthcare facilities, but their primary role is to respond to emergencies and provide life-saving interventions.


  • CNAs work under the supervision of registered nurses (RNs) or licensed practical nurses (LPNs), who provide guidance and direction for patient care.
  • Individuals with CPR-BLS certification may work independently or as part of a team, but they often work under the supervision of a healthcare professional, such as a nurse or physician.

CNA vs CPR-BLS: Job Description

CNA Job Description

  • Assist patients with activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, and toileting.
  • Take vital signs, including blood pressure, temperature, and pulse.
  • Assist with medical procedures, such as wound care and catheterization.
  • Monitor patients' physical and emotional well-being.
  • Communicate and report any changes in patients' conditions to the nursing staff.

CPR-BLS Job Description

  • Recognize and respond to life-threatening emergencies.
  • Perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on individuals experiencing cardiac arrest.
  • Use automated external defibrillators (AEDs) to restore normal heart rhythms.
  • Clear airway obstructions and provide basic life support interventions.
  • Assist healthcare professionals in emergency situations.

CNA vs CPR-BLS: Education and Training

CNA Education and Training

  • Completion of a state-approved CNA training program, which typically includes classroom instruction and clinical practice.
  • Training programs can range from a few weeks to several months, depending on the state requirements.
  • After completing the training program, candidates must pass a competency exam to become certified.
  • Continuing education may be required to maintain certification.

CPR-BLS Education and Training

  • CPR-BLS certification can be obtained through various organizations, such as the American Heart Association (AHA) or the American Red Cross.
  • Training courses are typically shorter in duration, ranging from a few hours to a couple of days.
  • The training includes instruction on recognizing emergencies, performing CPR, and using AEDs.
  • Certification is valid for a certain period of time, usually two years, and must be renewed through additional training.

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CNA vs CPR-BLS: Career Outlook and Salary

CNA Career Outlook and Salary

  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment of CNAs is projected to grow 8 percent from 2019 to 2029, faster than the average for all occupations.
  • The demand for CNAs is driven by the aging population, as they are needed to provide care for elderly individuals in nursing homes and other healthcare facilities.
  • The median annual wage for CNAs was $30,830 in May 2020, with the highest 10 percent earning more than $41,710.

CPR-BLS Career Outlook and Salary

  • CPR-BLS certification is often required for healthcare professionals, such as nurses and EMTs, and can enhance career opportunities in these fields.
  • The demand for healthcare professionals with CPR-BLS certification is expected to remain steady, as emergencies can happen in any healthcare setting.
  • The salary for individuals with CPR-BLS certification varies depending on the specific healthcare profession. For example, the median annual wage for registered nurses was $75,330 in May 2020.

Final Thoughts

Both Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) and CPR-BLS certifications offer valuable skills and opportunities in the healthcare field. CNAs provide direct patient care and assistance with activities of daily living, while CPR-BLS certification focuses on life-saving techniques and emergency response. Depending on your career goals and interests, either certification can be a stepping stone to a rewarding career in healthcare. It's important to carefully consider your options and choose the certification that aligns with your interests and future aspirations.

Ensuring accessibility for individuals seeking growth, Dreambound strategically places its educational programs in various locations. Delve into a more comprehensive understanding of the exciting opportunities within these two vocations by visiting:

Harold Roldan
Written by
Harold Roldan

Harold Roldan is a Growth team member at Dreambound. With a background in IT, he works with data and automation to improve team efficiency and workflows. He spends his free time playing musical instruments or studying data, computers, and technology.

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