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How to Become a Phlebotomist

The Definitive Guide on Becoming a Phlebotomist.

So you’re interested in choosing Phlebotomy as your new career. Congratulations! To help you out we’ve created a simple how-to guide to help everyone and anyone interested in achieving certification.

We have carefully divided up our guide to becoming a Phlebotomist into steps: 1) Getting the necessary education, 2) Applying for a job, and 3) Becoming a successful employee.

Part 1: Getting Educated

State Differences in Phlebotomy Certification:

While there are six national Phlebotomy certification agencies, some states like California and Florida have their own state certification programs and do not recognize these national agencies. So it’s important to know the requirements of your specific state. That’s why on our home page we have a cool interactive map of all 50 states where you can click and view the specific requirements of your state.

The National Certification Requirements:

how to become a phlebotomist - american medical technologists

What can be surprising to most aspiring Phlebotomists is that, unless your state has a specific regulatory board for the occupation, there are no legal requirements for you to be certified before you can be employed by a medical clinic.

That being said, if you apply for a job as Phlebotomy technician without certification from any of the six national agencies, you will take a back-seat to anyone who has taken Phlebotomy courses and has taken the initiative to become certified.

Community colleges and technical schools all around the country offer Phlebotomy training programs (You can search our Phlebotomy school directory to find one near you).

Requirements For Entry Into A Phlebotomy Certification Program:

Every school and college offering certification courses will have the specific requirements for admission listed in their course catalogue (or website course listing). But in general, there aren’t that many pre-requisites for you to take a Phlebotomy training course. These are the general requirements you’ll find on most course listings:

  • Be 18 years of age or older.
  • You should Have a high school diploma or equivalent or GED.
  • In many states they will ask you to pass a voluntary drug test.
  • They may also require a background check before admission.

General Requirements For Most Phlebotomy Programs:

While Phlebotomy certification programs will vary based on the type of certification they offer, there are general requirements that you will expect to encounter in every Phlebotomy certification program:

Most states require that you pass an exam for certification as a Phlebotomy Technician (CPT) with a grade of C or better.
Phlebotomy Technician programs are mostly science-based, but will also have some liberal-arts courses. Colleges that offer certification have programs that usually involve 100 hours of instruction and if you are a full-time student, you should be finished in three to four months.

Sciences, such as anatomy and physiology, as well as medical terminology, laboratory techniques and clinical experience (including CPR) are courses you should expect to attend. Following successful completion of the program, you are best advised to complete one of the national certification tests (see below) as this is generally viewed favorably by employers in all 50 United States.

While it is by no means a requirement, the two year (Associate’s) or four year (Bachelor’s) degrees are not necessary to practice phlebotomy. However, they do provide opportunity for promotion and better salaried positions in the future. Greater flexibility and higher employment rates are advantages that advanced education delivers. Positions such as medical assistant or laboratory technician are both attainable with two or four year degrees.

Phlebotomy Associate and Degree Programs

In general, the biggest difference between the types of programs is the time it takes to finish them and become certified. Two-year associate degree programs are offered at colleges, including community colleges. Degree programs tend to have a broad focus with an emphasis on the sciences. Typically you will have to complete approximately 60 to 70 credit hours, which will normally take two years to finish if you’re attending full-time, or about 15 hours per semester. Clinical hours are also part of the program and you would receive practical training at local hospitals or doctor’s offices.

The Three Categories of Phlebotomy:

What kind of Phlebotomist Certification Do I Need?

Did you know there are different levels of Phlebotomy? Each of them have different educational requirements that could make a difference 5-10 years down the road. Depending on how far you want to go with your career as a Phlebotomist, it’s important to know the differences right away.

Limited Phlebotomy Technician (authorized to do skin puncture blood collection only)

  • A high school diploma or an accepted equivalency (GED) is required
  • You must have completed 20 hours of didactic training (theory) by an approved program.
  • You must show 25 supervised skin punctures in clinical training
  • Apply for certification as Limited Phlebotomy Technician

Phlebotomy Technician I (authorized to do venipunctures and skin punctures)

  • A high school diploma or an accepted equivalency (GED) is required
  • You must have completed 40 hours of didactic training (theory) through an approved program.
  • You must have completed 40 hours of practical training in which you show supervision of 10 skin punctures and 50 venipunctures in clinical training.
  • * If you have less than 1040 hours of field experience, you may have an approved practitioner write a letter stating your hours and experience, and you would require only the 40 hours of didactic training.
  • ** If you have more than 1040 hours of field experience, you may have an approved practitioner write a letter stating your hours and experience, and you would require only 20 hours of didactic training.
  • You have received a passing grade on a written exam delivered by an approved certifying organization, and
    apply for certification as a Phlebotomy Technician I

Phlebotomy Technician II (authorized to do venipuncture, arterial and skin punctures)

  • You must be a currently licensed Phlebotomy Technician I with 1040 hours experience in the past 5 years
  • You must have completed 20 arterial punctures, and a written letter by an approved practitioner stating that this has occurred.
  • Apply for certification as a Phlebotomy Technician II

Maintaining your certification also has requirements:

Limited Phlebotomy Technician and Phlebotomy Technician I

  • Supervisory review of skin punctures occur monthly;
  • You will be documented annually for your competency;
  • Continuing education training equaling 3 hours per year or 6 hours every 2 years.
  • Make sure that your certification is posted clearly, where you work, or if you are ambulatory, wear your valid identification card in a visible place.

Phlebotomy Technician II

  • You will be documented annually for your competency,
  • Continuing education training equaling 3 hours per year or 6 hours every 2 years.
  • Make sure that your certification is posted clearly, where you work, or if you are ambulatory, wear your valid identification card in a visible place.

National certification expires after 2 years. As long as you have completed your 6 hours of CECs and pay the renewal fee, the state will send you a new certificate.

Note that while most states do not require you to be nationally certified, these decisions are ones you can make once you are already working. Chances are, having more credentials will put you in a stronger position for getting a better job, more salary and room to move up.

Before committing to any program, be sure that they provide adequate clinical time and that you have checked specific states for needed credentials since some states require special certification. At the moment, state certification is required only in four states: California, Washington, Nevada, and Louisiana.

A phlebotomist can become nationally certified through many different organizations. However, California currently only accepts national certificates from six agencies. These include:

  • American Medical Technologists (AMT)
  • American Society of Clinical Pathologists (ASCP)
  • American Society of Phlebotomy Technicians (ASPT)
  • National Phlebotomy Association (NPA)
  • National Credentialing Agency (NCA)
  • American Certification Agency (ACA)

You can be certified outside the states of California, Louisiana, Nevada and Washington but it is not a requirement. It does, however, give you a far greater competitive edge and allows you much more flexibility should you decide to move to another state. In addition, it is an important leveraging tool to negotiate salary increases. In order to qualify or “sit” for a national credential examination, the candidate must successfully complete a phlebotomy course and provide documentation of supervised clinical or laboratory experience. National Certification Career Association NCCA also provides phlebotomy certification which includes a 2 parts exam, Part 1 Skills Exam & Part 2 Written Exam. Candidates have to pass both the exam contents in order to be certified.

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