If you wish to become a certified Phlebotomist, you must first complete your phlebotomy education. There are many courses that are offered across the country that will provide the curriculum necessary for you to take, and pass, your certification exam. Learning the prerequisites to taking your exam, as well as understanding the certification process, will allow you to successfully become a Certified Phlebotomist.
Becoming a Certified Phlebotomist offers great benefits. Along with the great satisfaction of knowing your efforts now place you in a national registry, certification increases your hiring potential. Certification shows any prospective employer that you are skilled, qualified and have met all requirements by the certifying associations in your field. Many employers have now made certification a requirement for employment at their healthcare facility.
Taking that extra step to become certified also increases your earning potential. As reported by The American Society for Clinical Pathology:
Non-certified Phlebotomist $12.66 per hour on average
Certified Phlebotomist $14.06 per hour on average
Difference of $2912.00 annually
Non-certified Supervisor $19.02 per hour on average
Certified Supervisor $20.38 per hour on average
Difference of $2828.80 annually
Over a working career of twenty years, certification can bring additional earnings of over $58,000, making that extra step well worth the investment. Certified Phlebotomists can enjoy a salary of $41,000.00 annually (Mississippi). As with any job, the more certifications, experience and credits a phlebotomist acquires, the more you can earn.
What does certification mean?
To become certified, you must study, and then pass, a certification exam. As a Certified Phlebotomist, this indicates you have met the requirements set forth by one of the recognized certifying agencies or organizations that govern the certification process.
There are over ten organizations that can issue certifications for phlebotomy. It is very important to choose an organization that is reputable, in good standing with the Better Business Bureau, and teaches a curriculum following Clinical and Laboratory Standards. Choosing from a nationally recognized organization is your best bet.
There are three nationally accepted associations that watch over this certification process. These are: The National Phlebotomy Association, The American Medical Technologists Association and The American Society for Clinical Pathology Association Board of Certification.
Can anyone become certified?
No. Certification is not as easy as walking into a classroom, taking a test and receiving a certificate. There are eligibility requirements that you must first meet to begin the certification process.
Each certifying agency or organization has a list of prerequisites that must be met before taking their certification exam. These are clearly listed with each agency. The requirements may include completion of a certain number of documented venipunctures (for example, 50) and skin punctures as well as a specific amount of work experience, measured in hours, as a Phlebotomist. Other requirements include a specified amount of clinical and classroom hours.
Each state may also have requirements that must be met. An example can be found in the following states: Florida requires a high school diploma, transcript or GED, as well as 90 hour, 3 to 6 month training program in phlebotomy. California requires Phlebotomy technician courses, 1040 hours of experience that includes 10 skin punctures, 50 venipunctures (all successful), 20 hour didactic phlebotomy course (approved) and successful pre-certification exam.
Once you have chosen which certifying agency, and certification, you wish to take, it is important to review the prerequisites to taking the certification exam. This ensures you a clear road ahead towards reaching your goal.
I have worked for years as a phlebotomist. Can I become certified?
If you are already employed as a Phlebotomist and wish to become certified, you may not even need to take a class. Verify the requirements with the regulatory agency in your area. Some states allow you to take the certification exam if you already work as a Phlebotomist, and have a solid working knowledge of the skills needed to pass the exam, such as human anatomy and record keeping.
The following requirements are an example of the requirements you must meet if you have no clinical experience: Your high school diploma, or your GED, 40 hours of class time (in the Phlebotomy field), 120 hours of training (in Phlebotomy), and 100 hours of successful venipunctures
If you have been out of the classroom for quite some time, it may be helpful to purchase an exam study guide before taking your exam. There are also several free practice tests you can take on-line to hone your skills and help you become more comfortable with taking an exam.
Where do I take the certification exam? You will find that many of the vocational school, colleges and courses that teach Phlebotomy are also the sites for certification exams. Check in your area to find the closest exam testing site.
There are many also certifying agencies across the country that offers the Phlebotomy certification at satellite locations. They are:
National Health-career Association
National Credentialing Agency for Laboratory Personnel
American Certification Agency (for Healthcare)
American Medical Technologists
National Center for Competency Testing
American Society for Clinical Pathology
American Society of Phlebotomy Technicians
National Phlebotomy Association
What is the cost of this exam?
You will find the cost of the certification exam may vary from agency to agency, as well as state to state. Examples of the certification and re-certification costs are:
American Society of Phlebotomy Technicians
Certification exam $110.00
Re-certification exam $ 75.00
American Society of Clinical Pathology
Certification exam $ 125.00
National Center for Competency Testing
Certification exam $ 90.00 for students
$ 135.00 non-students
Are all certification exams the same?
No. There are different types of certifications available. Each exam will be specific towards that certification. There are levels of certification such as Level One, Two and Three. In California, there are certifications available for:
Limited Phlebotomy Tech skin puncture collection only
Certified Technician 1 skin puncture and venipuncture
Certified Technician 2 skin puncture, venipuncture/arterial
In addition, there are two significant differences that can be found in the exam process itself. The first difference is the absence of a practical phase on the exams given by some agencies. This practical phase is important, and is included in the majority of agencies which properly test a student’s entire range of knowledge and skills.
The second significant difference that can be found is in the renewal, or re-certification process. Some agencies only require you to become certified once. After that, there are no continuing requirements to maintain that certification.
Other agencies require you to continue your education in order to maintain your certification, as much as six hours of continued education yearly. This keeps you current in skills, technique and technology.
What will I be asked on the exam?
While each certification exam will be different, the areas you will be tested on include:
Anatomy and Physiology Quality Control Mechanisms
Blood Circulations Blood and Cell Composition
Legal Phlebotomy Issues Laboratory Safety
Infectious Disease Prep and site selection
Typically, your exam will be composed of two parts – a written exam that lasts around two hours, as well as a clinical demonstration exam that can take around one hour to complete.
What happens if I don’t pass the exam?
Each agency / organization has different rules for re-testing. Typically, you must pay the exam fee each time you re-take the exam. Some agencies allow you to re-test, after waiting thirty days after an exam failure. If you do not pass after a third try, you must wait one year before re-testing. Other certifying organizations require you to complete your coursework again after three exam failures.
Are there any tips to taking the certification exam?
While your phlebotomy education, as well as work experience, provide you the necessary tools to successfully pass your certification exam, utilizing a few practical tips can ensure successful results.
There are review study guides that are available for you, as well as on-line study guides and tips. Make use of these study guides and become comfortable with providing the correct answers. You can also find several on-line practice tests that are available for you to take. Free, these practice tests may reveal areas of weakness or needed study. As with any exam, it is important to get a good night’s sleep before the exam day. While taking your exam, don’t rush yourself during the clinical or written portions. Answer each question at a measured pace, and have confidence in your skills.
When will I know the results?
Many times, the certification exam can be taken online. This will allow you to immediately know if you have passed or not. Typically, you must answer a certain number of questions correctly, around 70%, to pass.
The official certification results will be mailed to you within six to eight weeks after taking your exam. Your certification can then be proudly displayed in a frame.
Becoming a certified Phlebotomist is a win-win opportunity for both you and your prospective employer. You will enjoy the satisfaction of obtaining your certification, as well as the monetary gains such an investment will bring. Your employer will know they have hired a skilled phlebotomist, one who has been tested and certified by a nationally recognized organization in the field.