There are approximately ten agencies in the United States that offer phlebotomist certification. While only a few states, notably California and Louisiana, have passed laws requiring phlebotomists to be certified, the vast majority of employers require certification as a prerequisite for phlebotomist jobs.
There are two reasons for this: (1) employers want proof that the people they hire have been properly trained to do their jobs and (2) there are legal and insurance implications that must be taken into consideration. All employers want to minimize the possibility of errors that could result in malpractice litigation. Requiring personnel to be certified helps reduce the risk of mistakes that could trigger expensive and disruptive lawsuits, and it usually results in lower malpractice and liability insurance premiums.
Different certifying agencies have different requirements and test criteria. Below is a brief summary of some of the more popular certification organizations and their standards. The cost for taking a phlebotomy certification exam varies among the agencies but generally falls between $90 and $150.
American Medical Technologists (AMT): Requires graduation from a phlebotomy training course that has been accredited by the U.S. Department of Education or by the Regional Accrediting Commission with 120 hours of classroom instruction and 120 hours of clinical instruction. Alternatively, the applicant must be able to document a minimum of 1,040 hours of approved work experience within the past three years.
All applicants must document 50 successful venipunctures and 25 successful skin punctures, usually finger or heel pricks. AMT encourages success by offering a variety of resources such as study guides and checklists to help candidates prepare for the exam.
National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT): Offers two different certifications: (1) phlebotomist and (2) donor phlebotomist, for people who only collect blood for donations to a blood bank. A high school diploma or GED is required, along with graduation from an approved phlebotomy training program or one year of experience with at least 2,040 hours. Training and experience must have taken place within the last 10 years. Donor phlebotomy certification requires at least 6 months of donor collection experience with a minimum of 80 successful donor specimen draws. The certification fee is in the $90 to $135 range.
American Society for Clinical Pathology(ASCP): The ASCP has multiple routes to qualify for certification that generally begins with high school graduation, or the equivalent, and the completion of an approved phlebotomy training course within the last 5 years. However, there are routes that require a minimum of one year of work experience at 35 hours per week and/or at least 100 successful unaided draws in lieu of a training program. Candidacy requirements can be fulfilled by taking other medical training courses, such as these. The fee for taking the certification exam is about $125.
Phlebotomy certifications are also available from the American Association of Medical Personnel (AAMP), the American Certification Agency (ACA) and the American Society of Phlebotomy Technicians (ASPT).
Some agencies offer certification for people who have already acquired practical phlebotomy experience and who can document a specified number of successful blood draws and other procedures. These candidates must still pass an exam and demonstrate their clinical skills.