Last updated: September 30, 2019

Phlebotomy Certification: Ultimate Guide

Learn everything about certifying agencies, their requirements and costs. 

Phlebotomy Certification

Obtaining a certification is a great opportunity for a phlebotomist who just starts his/her career, since it increases chances of getting a job and can improve starting salary.

For California, Nevada and Louisiana getting certification is a must – without it you can’t practice phlebotomy.

There are ten credentialing organizations that offer certifications for phlebotomists in the US (sorted top-to-bottom by popularity):

Also, people with matching certifications, like certified nursing assistants – CNA’s, or certified medical assistants – CMA’s can draw blood from patients, but here we will talk only about people who have received phlebotomy education, and now look for the prospects of certification. Now, let’s define how they are different.

General requirement for completing a certification is having a high-school diploma or its equivalent. In addition, you can become certified either through Education route (this means you have to accomplish accredited phlebotomy training program), or through Experience route, in case you have worked as phlebotomist for 6 months, full-time, or more. Detailed requirements for each of them you can find below.

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American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP)

Credential: Phlebotomy Technician, PBT (ASCP)​

According to our phlebotomy salary research, average salary of ASCP-certified phlebotomists is around $30,000.

Requirements

The basic education requirement is high school diploma or equivalent.

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

  • Complete NAACLS-approved phlebotomy program
  • Formal training that consists of 40 hours of classes and 100 hours of practice in accredited laboratory along with 100 successful skin punctures and venipunctures
  • 1 year of experience as phlebotomy technician within last 5 years in an accredited laboratory
  • Accomplished RN, LPN or other medical occupation degree that included phlebotomy training as its part. 100 skin punctures and venipunctures are required
  • Obtaining other ASCP certifications that include:
    • MLT(ASCP) or MT/MLS(ASCP)
    • DPT(ASCP) and 100 blood collections within last 5 years

Exam details: 2 hours to complete, 80 questions, multiple choice.

Application fee: $135

More info: ASCP official website

National Healthcareer Association (NHA)

Credential: NHA Certified Phlebotomy Technician – CPT(NHA)

This is probably the most popular certification in the field right now. You can find a CPT abbreviation in almost any job listing for phlebotomy vacancies. As with other kinds of certifications, being a CPT (Certified Phlebotomy Technician), your main duty will be drawing blood from patients. You can work in a hospital, blood center, or similar medical establishment. As a CPT, your job duties will include, but will not be limited to:

  • Executing basic procedures in phlebotomy
  • Answering patient’s questions along with evaluating whether a patient can be taken through venipuncture procedure at a given moment
  • Preparing blood, urine or other specimens for tests according to given standards
  • Accomplish first-point testing. Example: evaluating the glucose level in patient’s blood

What are the benefits of getting CPT certification?

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.

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.

Within this certification itself there are following grades:

  • Limited Phlebotomy Technician (LPT)
  • 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 similar:

  • High school graduate or GED or Equivalent
  • 20 hours of basic phlebotomy classes
  • Certificate of completion from the phlebotomy training program
Anyway, depending on certification level you want to achieve, there are additional requirements for each level which you can find below:

Limited Phlebotomy Technician (LPT)

This is the most basic certification level that is not popular among graduates of phlebotomy programs. That’s why people tend to aim for CPT1, at least. This level doesn’t require examination, which is why prospective employers also require CPT1 or CPT2.

Requirements to accomplish this level are basic (GED, 20 hours of classes with certificate of accomplishment), PLUS:

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

Certified Phlebotomy Technician 1 (CPT 1)

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

This what most employers want a prospective candidate to have.

To achieve this level of certification, you can have no experience, less than 1040 hours of experience, or more. Requirements differ for each of these options:

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

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)

CPT 1 with 1040 hours of experience or more

The only difference compared to the previous level is that you don’t have to complete 20 hours of basic phlebotomy classes, which is a basic requirement.

Written examination is required to pass a CPT 1, regardless of the route you take (no experience, less that 1040 hours or more).

Certified Phlebotomy Technician 2 (CPT 2)

CPT is the most advanced level of certification for phlebotomists that NHA offers at the moment. It will make sense to get one in case it’s required by your employer or voluntarily as you are practicing already. To get one, you will need to satisfy basic requirements, plus:

  • 20 hours of advanced classes
  • 20 arterial punctures (successful) under a supervision of MD, PA, RN or CLS.
As with CPT 1, in order to complete CPT 2 level, a written phlebotomy examination will be required.

Application fee: $117

More info: NHA official website

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American Medical Technologists (AMT)

Credential: AMT Registered Phlebotomy Technician, RPT (AMT)

What is interesting, phlebotomists with this kind of certification get the best salary – $34,000, in average.

Requirements

There are three routes to eligibility for this certification and you should follow one of them:

Education

Successful graduation of accredited phlebotomy training course in the last four years.

Experience

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

Both Education and Experience routes require an examination.

Recognized examination

Given that you have accomplished other organization’s certification for phlebotomists and are eligible through either Education or Experience route, you can be AMT-certified without examination, by only paying a fee.

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

Anyway, it will be useful to learn more about exam using preparation guide and handbooks here.

Application fee: $95

More info: AMT official website

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National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT)

Credential: NCCT National Certified Phlebotomy Technician (NCPT)​

Requirements

  • High-school diploma or equivalent

AND:

  • Graduation from NCAA-approved training program

OR:

  • 2080 hours or one year of phlebotomy work experience.
Whether you’re applying through education or Experience route, they should be obtaining within 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 on NCCT site here.

American Association of Bioanalysts (AAB) Board of Registry (ABOR)

Certifications Offered: Medical Technologist, MT(AAB); Medical Laboratory Technician, MLT(AAB)

While not offering phlebotomy-specific certifications, ABOR certifications are still very popular among phlebotomists working in clinical labs and taking additional responsibilities.

Established in 1956 (which makes it one of the oldest in the industry), American Association of Bioanalysts Board of Registry offers two certifications that are desirable for those technicians who look to expand their skillset in a laboratory setting:

  • Medical Technologist, MT(AAB)
  • Medical Laboratory Technician, MLT(AAB)

Both of the above don’t test phlebotomy skills and knowledge specifically. However, they include subjects like chemistry, hematology, immunology, immunohematology, microbiology, andrology, embryology, molecular diagnostics.

More info: AAB website

National Phlebotomy Association (NPA)

Credential: NPA Certified Phlebotomist Technologist (NPA-CPT)

NPA is reputable organization in the field of phlebotomy which was founded in 1978 and now offers certifications for phlebotomy technicians, instructors and accredits training programs.

In our case, we’re interested in their Certified Phlebotomist Technologist certification, details for which you can find below.

Requirements

  • Accomplishment of allied health program where venipuncture was taught
  • The training program should contain at least 160 hours of classroom instruction and 200 hours of clinical practice

Examination details: 2-hour written exam with 50 multiple-choice questions

Application Fee: $135

More info: official NPA website.

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American Society of Phlebotomy Technicians (ASPT)

Certification Offered: Phlebotomy Technician Certificate

ASPT has established itself as a reputable organization in the field of phlebotomy. Unlike many others, ASPT certification includes practical phase, not only theory. Maintaining of this certification means completing six hours of continuing education per year (provided by the organization, P.A.C.E. approved).

Requirements

To be admitted for the exam, you will need one of the following:

  • Either six months full-time work experience as phlebotomist, or one year part-time
  • Accomplishment of phlebotomy training program
  • If you already work as phlebotomist but not certified - present a letter from your supervisor at a healthcare facility confirming your experience in drawing blood and handling specimen on a regular basis

After that, regardless of the route you take, you also need to present the following:

  • Minimum of 75 documented venipunctures and 5 skin pinctures

Application Fee: $90

More info: ASPT official website.

American Medical Certification Association (AMCA)

Certification Offered: Phlebotomy Technician Certification (PTC)

AMCA is accredited by National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) to offer their phlebotomy certification. Their PTC certification includes theory exam only without clinical practice test.

Requirements

  • Accomplishment of phlebotomy program with clinical practice.
  • Minimum 30 venipunctures and 10 capillary punctures

Examination details: 2-hour written exam with 100 multiple-choice questions

Application Fee: $109

AMCA also gives you a chance to sit a so-called combo exam, where you can combine phlebotomy certification with that of EKG Technician and Patient Care technician, for a reduced fee.

More info: AMCA website.

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American Certification Agency for Healthcare Professionals (ACA)

Credential: ACA Certified Phlebotomy Technician (ACA CPT)​

ACA is one of the few agencies that offers online phlebotomy certification exam. However, you will still need to accomplish a practical part of exam in a hospital or a lab.

Requirements

  • High school diploma
  • Completion of phlebotomy training program OR 1 year of experience as phlebotomist
  • Proof of 100 venipunctures, 10 dermal punctures (25 in case you will practice in Louisiana)

Examination details: online assessment along with practical part in hospital setup.

Application Fee: $100

More info on ACA website.

American Allied Health (AAH)

Certification Offered: Phlebotomy Technician Certificate

AAH is a private California-based company that offers certifications in a number of allied health occupations, including phlebotomy.

Requirements

To be eligible for certification exam you need to satisfy one of the following:

  • Graduation from phlebotomy training program
  • 1+ year of work experience as phlebotomist
  • Military training or experience in phlebotomy
  • Present certification in phlebotomy

Examination details: exam can be taken either online or at one of the AAH-affiliated testing centres.

Application Fee: $105

More info: AAH website

FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions on Phlebotomy Certifications

Do I need to accomplish a phlebotomy training program to get certified?

Getting formal education in phlebotomy is not always necessary. Some organizations have so-called Experience Route when you can be eligible for exam by having relevant work experience (usually 1 year or more).

At the same time, graduating from a phlebotomy training course (or any similar allied health training) will broaden your certification opportunities and chances to get certified. Many schools have arrangements with certifying agencies, so that upon graduation their students are automatically registered for a certification exam.

What is the difference between phlebotomy certificate, certification and licensing?

Very often these three terms (certificate, certification and licensing) are confused. As a result, prospective phlebotomists don’t know which one they need. Here’s the difference:

Certificate – is the type of degree program (just like associate’s, master’s or bachelor’s). When graduating from this type of program, you get a certificate.

Certification – this is a voluntary process of independent third-party verification of knowledge and skills you have received during your training at a phlebotomy program. When you pass certification, you become a certified phlebotomist and receive a designated credential of a specific organization where you have passed your certification exam.

This is what many employers want in their candidates – knowledge and skills verified through independent third-party source.

License – this is often referred to as ‘state license’ or ‘state accreditation’. Some states (California, Nevada or Louisiana) require phlebotomists to get a license before entering the workforce. To get a state license, in majority of cases you need to get certification through one of the state-approved agencies.

Usually, there’s no state-administered test or exam on top of the certifying exam. So, the process is pretty straightforward: first, you pass certification exam through an organization like ASCP, get your certification and pass it on to your state’s department of public health. After that, you are awarded state license.

Can I take my phlebotomy certification online?

Yes, there are two organizations that currently offer examination to be taken in online form – ​American Allied Health (AAH)​ and ​American Certification Agency for Healthcare Professionals (ACA)​. The latter, however will also require to take practical part of exam in a hospital or lab setup.

Most reputable certifying agencies, however, will require you to do an exam in an accredited testing center.

When it comes to certificate training programs in phlebotomy, many of them are offered as online curriculum, while clinical practice will be arranged with designated institutions.

What are the best phlebotomy certifications to take?

The best phlebotomy certification is either the one required by your employer or the one that will verify advanced knowledge and skills. We suggest to opt for the most known and reputable certifications out there, provided by the following organizations:

  • American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP)​
  • National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
  • American Medical Technologists (AMT)​
  • National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT)​
  • American Association of Bioanalysts (AAB) Board of Registry (ABOR)​

By saying that we don’t want to demean the value of five other reputable agencies mentioned in our guide above. It’s just that these five have established themselves as standards in the industry, and are therefore, most wished for by prospective employers.

Do I need to maintain and renew my certification as a practicing phlebotomist?

Usually, yes. Exact requirements are specific for each certifying body. However, the process is usually the following:

  • along with paying for your initial certification you either become a member of respected organization automatically, or need to pay small extra membership fee
  • after you pass your certification exam and are awarded a certificate, you are also regularly supplied with further studying material and updates on latest developments in the industry
  • continuing education is often supplied through curriculum approved by P.A.C.E. (read more about P.A.C.E. here.)
  • after a period of time (usually 2 years) you are required to pass a short test or quiz to prove your knowledge