The allied healthcare field is growing more than ever, with significant demand for skilled practitioners. Hence, phlebotomists wouldn’t have a hard time finding work, may it be in a hospital, diagnostic laboratory, or outpatient facility. And with more experience gained, even more opportunities for advancement await them down the road. However, most employers would require you to be certified to climb your way up the career ladder. After all, it adds to your credentials, affirming your knowledge, skill, and commitment to your profession.
You have irrefutable authority when you are a certified phlebotomist, which would feel good for you. Nonetheless, some of you might wonder, if you are already working as a phlebotomist, do you need a phlebotomist certification? And if so, how do you get one?
Becoming A Certified Phlebotomist
The demand for phlebotomists has inadvertently caused variability in available care, compromising some established standards in practice. As such, control mechanisms must be implemented; one recognizes phlebotomists as knowledgeable in theory and practical by certifying them in their profession. In 1978, the National Phlebotomy Association began maintaining a Board of Registry of all certified phlebotomists. Other certifying bodies using comparable standards reinforced this qualification.
Currently, working phlebotomists are presumed to have at least completed a phlebotomy program. It could be in school or being trained by their employer. As such, you would get a program or training certificate, not to be confused with an actual phlebotomist certification; it only indicates that you have graduated from the program. On the other hand, you can get a certificate as a phlebotomist by taking a corresponding exam.
The certification exam aims to determine your knowledge and understanding of venipuncture, infection control, and medical protocols, among other subjects. It may also entail an in-person demonstration of procedures, assuring one’s proficiency in the task.
Passing the certification exam means you have proven that you have a high level of skills and competency to draw blood from patients and handle specimens concerning health standards and protocols.
Advantages Of Becoming A Certified Phlebotomist
- Enhances employability
- Higher pay at entry-level
- Eligibility for more senior positions
- Opportunity to upgrade qualifications
- Serves as proof of expertise
- Motivates to pursue career growth
- Compliance with acceptable standards of practice
Requirements For Certification
The most essential prerequisite for phlebotomist certification is completing a phlebotomy training course. If you plan to work in states that require certified phlebotomists and an operating license, such as California, Louisiana, Nevada, and Washington, make sure the National Accreditation Agency accredits your phlebotomy program for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS) or other organizations acknowledged by the concerned state. You will also need to have a CPR certification and records of vaccinations. Other criteria will be dictated by the type of certification you wish to have.
Phlebotomy Certification Options
Many phlebotomist certifications are available, but these three are the major nationally recognized options.
1. Phlebotomy Technician (PBT) – awarded by the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP)
PBT is a national certification that validates a phlebotomist’s ability to uphold laboratory protocols during blood collection. Participants take their exam in person, consisting of 80 multiple-choice questions they have to answer within 2 hours. The difficulty level increases sequentially with every correct answer using a Computer Adaptive Testing (CAT) format. The topics weigh heavily on venipuncture and specimen collection while covering other phlebotomy procedures.
Must have completed ANY of the following within the last five years:
- NAACLS-approved phlebotomy program
- A phlebotomy program consisting of at least 40 hours of classroom lectures,100 hours of clinical experience that includes 100 venipunctures performed
- At least one year of full-time clinical experience as a phlebotomist
- Education in allied health practices, such as a registered nurse, medical lab technician, etc., alongside 100 venipunctures performed in a clinical setting
- Other phlebotomy certifications
Current testing fee – $135
Renewal period – Performed every three years, requiring nine Credential Maintenance Program (CMP) points
2. Certified Phlebotomy Technician (CPT) – awarded by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
CPT is one of eight health science certifications offered by the NHA, a reputable certifying organization since 1989. The CPT test is a national certification that covers key phlebotomy concepts like safety and compliance, patient preparation, routine and special blood collections, and general processing. It consists of 100 questions that must be answered within 2 hours and an additional 20 during the pretest for data gathering of NHA.
- A phlebotomy program consisting of at least 30 venipunctures and 10 capillary draws within the last five years
- Must have completed ANY of the following:
- At least one year of full-time clinical experience as a phlebotomist within the previous three years
- NHA health field training program within the last five years
- Apprenticeship program under US Department of Labor guidelines over the previous five years
- US military medical services training over the last five years
Current testing fee – $117
Renewal period – Performed every two years, requiring ten continuing education units.
3. Registered Phlebotomy Technician (RPT) – awarded by the American Medical Technologists (AMT)
RPT is a national certification for phlebotomists with an intermediate skill level who handle specimens for testing, donation, and research. Almost half of the exam’s 200 questions answerable within 2 hours are about obtaining blood samples, followed by specimen collection and processing, among other phlebotomy-related knowledge.
- A minimum of 50 venipunctures and ten skin punctures
- Must have completed ANY of the following:
- A phlebotomy program consisting of at least 120 didactic clock hours, 50 venipunctures, and ten skin punctures within the last four years
- Phlebotomy work experience of at least 1040 hours within the previous three years
- Current employment as an allied health program instructor, which includes phlebotomy for at least three years alongside a completed phlebotomy course
Current testing fee – $125
Renewal Period – performed every three years, requiring 24 certification continuing program points and an annual renewal fee payment.
Choosing The Right Phlebotomy Certification
When choosing which certification exam to take, follow your phlebotomy school or employer’s recommendation. You may also base it on where your available requirements qualify. Since different certifying bodies administer these exams, they also have other eligibility criteria and credentials. So, if you plan to work in California, take a certification exam they approve of.
Meanwhile, you can benefit from online study guides and practice exams to increase your chances of passing your certification exam. Retakes are usually allowed within a specific period for free.