Certifications are important for many allied healthcare careers, and phlebotomy is no exception. While your state might not require certification in order to practice phlebotomy, most employers prefer to hire those who have gone through a proper phlebotomy training program and are certified by a respected national organization. For this reason, if you are considering pursuing a career in phlebotomy, it is strongly encouraged that you seek an official certification to become a Certified Phlebotomy Technician. If you choose not to, you risk having a harder time finding employment in the field, and your employer may ask you to get certified eventually anyway.
Not every state requires certification for phlebotomists; in fact, only 4 states mandate it as a hard requirement. These states are:
If you do not live in a state that requires certification, you must still meet your state's training requirements to be eligible to practice. Many aspiring phlebotomists in states all across the nation choose to become certified to show prospective employers that they are dedicated to the profession and value safe patient interactions. It's also valuable to hold certifications in case you move to any state that does require them.
There are several organizations that offer phlebotomy certifications via examination, and each has its own eligibility requirements. Most certification organizations require that you fulfill the following:
- Hold a high school diploma or GED
- Completion of a phlebotomy training program within the last 2-5 years that fulfills certain requirements (minimum number of classroom training and clinical lab hours, etc.)
- Some professional work experience in the field may be required (usually 6 months to one year)
- A minimum number of venipunctures and skin punctures performed on human subjects
- Payment of the examination fee (anywhere from $90 to $150)
There may be specific eligibility requirements for several distinct phlebotomist groups. For example, the National Center for Competency Testing breaks out their certification eligibility requirements and pricing by the following:
- Current Students / Graduates – This category includes students enrolled in an approved phlebotomy training program, or those who have graduated from a program within the last 5 years.
- Experienced Technicians – This refers to those who can verify one year of full-time experience as a phlebotomy practitioner within the last 5 years.
- Military – This includes all who have completed phlebotomy training during U.S. military service within the last 5 years, or military members (or spouses) who can verify one year of full-time experience as a phlebotomy practitioner within the last 5 years.
It's important to review all the eligibility requirements of the organization you choose to become certified by, as they can vary.
Students are typically given 2-3 hours to complete the phlebotomy certification examination. The test consists of around 100-150 multiple choice questions. Exam topics will cover several aspects of phlebotomy, from infection control to collection procedures to specimen handling and transportation. For example, the National Certified Phlebotomy Technician Test through the National Center for Competency Testing (NCPT) breaks the exam into the following categories:
- Quality and Professional Issues
- Infection Control and Safety
- Orders and Equipment Selection
- Patient ID and Site Preparation
- Problems and Correction
To find out more about the eligibility requirements, test materials, cost, and other pertinent information regarding the following phlebotomy certification organizations, click the links below:
- American Allied Health
- American Certification Agency for Healthcare Professionals (ACA)
- American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP)
- American Society of Phlebotomy Technicians
- American Medical Technologists (AMT)
- National Center for Competency Testing
- National Phlebotomy Association
- National Phlebotomy Solutions