ACLS Certification vs. ACLS Recertification

Determining whether you need to take an ACLS certification vs recertification course can be a bit confusing. However, there are some clear-cut rules when it comes to which type of training you need. Continue reading to see the differences between ACLS certification and ACLS recertification to help you determine which course you need to take.

Unsure whether you need to take an ACLS certification or an ACLS recertification course? At the surface, ACLS (Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support) certification and ACLS recertification courses are very similar. Both courses cover the same material, and successfully completing each course results in the same thing: becoming ACLS certified.

However, three primary differences will factor into which course is right for you. Continue reading to find out how you can determine whether an ACLS certification or ACLS renewal is for you.

Do I Need ACLS Certification or ACLS Recertification?

First, it’s essential to understand that the initial ACLS certification course is built for those who have never completed an ACLS course in the past. This means that you’ve never received your certification from an ACLS course before at any point.

Conversely, the ACLS Recertification course is designed for experienced ACLS providers who have completed and held an active ACLS certification at some point. Even if that particular certification has expired, you only need to sign up for your recertification course in order to reactivate your ACLS certification.

This is a benefit because recertification courses are often cheaper and can take less time. Thus, it’s important to acknowledge if you’ve ever received your ACLS certification in the past to determine whether you should take a certification or recertification course.

ACLS Certification vs. ACLS Recertification

Course Format:

Next, it’s important to evaluate the course format of your ACLS certification and recertification courses.

At eMedCert, both of our ACLS courses are broken down into 14 core sections of interactive training material with a small set of review questions at the end of each section. The biggest difference between our ACLS certification and ACLS recertification courses lies in how the course is formatted.

The certification course follows a directed course model. This means all of the section review questions must be completed prior to attempting the final exam.

However, the recertification course follows a self-guided course model. This means that all of the content and review questions are readily available, but not required. With the recertification course, you can go straight to the final exam. This is due to the fact that you have already completed your official ACLS certification at some point in your life and simply need to renew ACLS credentials rather than earning them anew.

Finally, both the ACLS certification and recertification final exams are composed of multiple-choice and true/false questions. The ACLS Certification exam consists of 50 questions, while the ACLS Recertification exam consists of 40 questions. Each requires a score of 80% or higher in order to pass the exam. We do not require an on-site skills assessment for either course.


Our online ACLS Certification course costs $169, while our ACLS Recertification course costs $119.

CME Hours:

In addition, it’s important to look at the continuing education credits that your ACLS course is offering. Read more about ACLS CEU hours here.

Continuing medical education (CME) credits are available with all of our courses. eMedCert is an approved provider of continuing education per the California Board of Registered Nursing and as an approved provider of continuing education through our partnership with the Postgraduate Institute for Medicine (PIM).

  • ACLS Certification: 8 CME credits
  • ACLS Recertification: 4 CME credits


Physician Continuing Medical Education (ACCME)

  • ACLS Certification: 8.0 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)
  • ACLS Recertification: 4.0 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)

Continuing Nursing Education (ANCC)

  • ACLS Certification: 8.0 Contact Hours
  • ACLS Recertification: 4.0 Contact Hours

Continuing Pharmacy Education (ACPE)

  • ACLS Certification: 8.0 Contact Hours
  • ACLS Recertification: 4.0 Contact Hours

Dental Continuing Education (ADA)

  • ACLS Certification: 8.0 ADA Credits
  • ACLS Recertification: 4.0 ADA Credits

For more information on ACLS certification and recertification courses, visit our website. In addition, please check out our Continuing Education page.

Sign up for your ACLS online course TODAY!

ACLS Certification - $169

ACLS Recertification - $119