Phlebotomy Certification Guide

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Obtaining a phlebotomy certification is a great opportunity for someone who just started out, or even those in the mid-career level. By becoming certified, the candidate demonstrates to employers their commitment to their profession and this increases his or her chances of getting hired. Having an accredited certificate also means that one can expect a boost in his or her starting salary.
In the states of California, Nevada and Louisiana, however, it is legally required that phlebotomists hold an accredited certification in order to practice phlebotomy.

Who administers the phlebotomy certification programs?

There are many organizations that attempt to certify phlebotomists. Before choosing one, make sure that they adhere to the standards published by the Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute (CLSI) and are in good standing with the Better Business Bureau.

Currently, there are five widely accepted certifications for phlebotomists in the US:

Initials Agency Title Homepage
PBT (ASCP) American Society for Clinical Pathology Phlebotomy Technician Visit
CPT (NHA) National Healthcareer Association Certified Phlebotomy Technician Visit
RPT (AMT) American Medical Technologists Registered Phlebotomy Technician Visit
NCPT (NCCT) National Center for Competency Testing National Certified Phlebotomy Technician Visit
CPT (ACA) American Certification Agency Certified Phlebotomy Technician Visit

Eligibility for taking the Phlebotomy Certification Exam

Certification exams in the US are typically available to those who satisfy one or more of the following conditions:

  1. The candidate is currently enrolled in a Phlebotomy Technician program from an authorized institution or have graduated from such a program within the past five years
  2. The candidate possesses one year of verifiable full-time experience as a Phlebotomy Technician practitioner within the past five years
  3. The candidate has completed a Phlebotomy Technician training or its equivalent during his compulsory U.S. Military service within the past five years

In terms of education, general prerequisites for completing a certification is having a high-school diploma or its equivalent.

Read on for detailed requirements for each of the Phlebotomy Certification:

1. NHA Certified Phlebotomy Technician – CPT(NHA)

The CPT (NHA) is the most well-known certification at the moment, can can be found in almost any job listing for phlebotomist openings. Being a CPT (Certified Phlebotomy Technician), your main duty will be drawing blood from patients. You can work in a hospital, donation center, or any other similar medical establishment. As a CPT, your daily tasks will include but not be limited to:

  • Executing basic procedures in phlebotomy
  • Preparing blood, urine or other specimens for tests while adhering to professional standards
  • Carrying out first-point testing. E.g. evaluating the glucose level in patient’s blood
  • Answering patients’ questions and evaluating whether they can be taken through venipuncture procedure at a given moment

What are the benefits of getting CPT certification?

First of all, as this is often a basic requirement for many employers,  obtaining a CPT certification increases your chances of getting hired drastically. Or rather, without it, your chance of getting employed will be diminished greatly.

If you are already working as a phlebotomy technician, obtaining a CPT certification will help to increase your current salary.

Not to mention better job security, and most importantly, more skills and expertise in phlebotomy field.

First of all, this is a basic requirement for many employers, so by obtaining a CPT certification your chances of being employed increase drastically. Furthermore, if you’re working as phlebotomy technician already, CPT certification will help you increase salary. Not to mention better job security, and most importantly, more skills and expertise in phlebotomy field.

When and where can I take it?

Testing sites are available throughout the United States and overseas.  Most students choose to test at the site associated with their college or vocational program.

What are the requirements for passing the CPT?

Within this certification itself there are following grades:

  • Limited Phlebotomy Technician
  • Certified Phlebotomy Technician 1 (CPT 1)
    • No experience
    • Less than 1040 hours on-the-job experience (OTJE) within the past five years
    • Equal to or greater than 1040 hours OTJE within last 5 years
  • Certified Phlebotomy Technician 2 (CPT 2)

The Basic Requirements for all of the above are:

  • High school graduate or GED or Equivalent
  • 20 hours of basic phlebotomy classes
  • Certificate of completion of the phlebotomy training program

Depending on certification level you want to achieve, there are additional requirements for each level as found below:

1.1 Limited Phlebotomy Technician

Basic requirements PLUS:

  • 25 skin punctures in hospital setting, performed on real patients. This should be officially confirmed with a letter or certificate signed by a licensed RN (Registered Nurse), MD (Medical Doctor), PA (Physician assistant) or CLS (Clinical Laboratory Scientist).

This is the most basic certification level and is not very popular among phlebotomy graduates. This level doesn’t require examination, which is why many prospective employers also require CPT1 or CPT2. Most people tend to aim for at least CPT1.

1.2.1) Certified Phlebotomy Technician 1 (CPT 1) with NO experience

Basic requirements PLUS:

  • 20 hours of advanced phlebotomy classes
  • 40 hours of training in hospital setup
  • 50 venipuncture and 10 skin punctures
  • Passing a written examination

CPT 1 is the minimal level of certification you will want to obtain from the NHA (National Healthcareer Association).

1.2.2) CPT 1 with less than 1040 hours of experience

  • 20 hours of advanced phlebotomy classes
  • 50 venipuncture and 10 skin punctures (confirmed by employer, laboratory manager or director)
  • Passing a written examination

1.2.3) CPT 1 with 1040 hours of experience or more

The only difference that this level has from the previous level is that you don’t have to complete 20 hours of basic phlebotomy classes, which is a basic requirement. You are also required to pass a written examination.

1.3 Certified Phlebotomy Technician 2 (CPT 2)

Basic requirements PLUS:

  • 20 hours of advanced classes
  • 20 arterial punctures (successful) under a supervision of MD, PA, RN or CLS.
  • Passing a written examination

2. Phlebotomy Techncician, PBT (ASCP).

The certification examination contains 145 questions that must be answered within 150 minutes, with a passing score of 70%.

The average salary of ASCP-certified phlebotomists is around $30,000.

Requirements:

The basic education requirement is high school diploma or equivalent.

ASCP Phlebotomy training requirements are quite flexible and will allow you to apply through one of the following routes:

  1. Completion of a NAACLS-approved phlebotomy program
  2. Formal training that consists of 40 hours of classes and 100 hours of practice in accredited laboratory, as well as 100 successful skin punctures and venipunctures
  3. One year of experience as a phlebotomy technician in an accredited laboratory within the last 5 years
  4. Completion of RN, LPN or any other medical occupation degree that included phlebotomy training. 100 skin punctures and venipunctures are required
  5. Obtaining other ASCP certifications including:
  • MLT(ASCP) or MT/MLS(ASCP)
  • DPT(ASCP) and 100 blood collections within the last 5 years

Exam details: 2h, 80 questions, multiple choice.

Application fee: $135

3. AMT Registered Phlebotomy Technician, RPT

An interesting fact is that phlebotomists with this type of certification are drawing the best salary – $34,000, in average.

Requirements:

There are three routes:

3.1 Education

Successful completion of an accredited phlebotomy training course in the last four years

3.2 Experience

1040+ hours of experience as a phlebotomy technician within the last three years. This route also requires a high school diploma or equivalent

Both Education and Experience routes will require an examination.

3.3 Recognized examination

If you are eligible through either the Education or Experience route, and have acquired another organization’s phlebotomy certification, you can be AMT-certified without having to take an examination. You need only to pay a fee.

Exam details: Examination itself covers basic phlebotomy-related questions that you should be able to answer easily after graduation from a program.

Application fee: $95

It will be useful to learn more about the exam using some of the recommended preparation guide and handbooks below. You can also try out some of the interactive Phlebotomy Practice Tests available on our site.

4. NCCT National Certified Phlebotomy Technician (NCPT)

Requirements:

  • High-school diploma or equivalent

AND either

  • Graduation from a NCAA-approved training program

OR

  • 2080 hours or one year of phlebotomy work experience.

Whether you’re applying through the Education or Experience route, they should be completed within the last 10 years.

Fees:

  • $90 if you’re currently enrolled to phlebotomy training program or have graduated within last 6 months
  • $135 if not eligible for above

More info can be found on NCCT official website here.

5. ACA Certified Phlebotomy Technician (ACA CPT)

Requirements:

  • High school diploma
  • Completion of a phlebotomy training program OR One year of experience as a phlebotomist
  • Proof of 100 venipunctures, 10 dermal punctures (25 if you are practicing in Louisiana)

Examination details: online assessment and a practical segment on hospital setup.

Fee: $100

More info can be found on ACA website

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