A stands for Advanced. B is for Basic. And P—well, it means Pediatric.

Completing a nursing program and earning a license are the first steps for anyone who aspires to be in the nursing profession. The next step would be finding an employer, and employers regularly require certain certifications from their applicants as proof of competence. BLS, ACLS, and PALS are among the most common and popular certifications. Here’s what you need to know about these three.

Basic Life Support (BLS) is a general requirement in entering the medical profession. It covers the essentials of Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) along with other lifesaving methods. Basic Life Support certification should be renewed every two years.

Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS) is essential for those who intend to work in emergency and critical care. ACLS students are usually already BLS certified and are almost exclusively health workers. Although paramedics and physicians might also be found taking up the course. ACLS certification should also be renewed every two years.

Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) is identical to ACLS, but rather focused on pediatric care. This certification’s focal point is administering emergency treatments to young patients (infants and small children). PALS certification is also valid for two years and must be renewed thereafter.

Another thing to consider in taking these certifications is the provider and its partner. A healthcare education provider usually partners with non-profit organizations for appropriation of the science. Employers usually seek applicants with certifications from highly reputed partners such as the American Heart Association.