Pursuing a phlebotomist certification is a step towards achieving the credentials as a medical professional qualified in drawing blood for transfusion and testing purposes. Candidates begin this journey by taking specialized phlebotomy courses in biology and medicine; examples of subjects involve studying the circulatory, respiratory and other systems in the human body. A strong emphasis is placed on work safety and students have the opportunity to gain practical training in this field. Relevant work experience is important in the phlebotomist certification process. The final step involves passing a written examination.

The phlebotomist certification process has different requirements depending on where you live. There aren’t specific unified laws regulating the certification requirements; however there is a strong preference by employers for certified candidates as it provides a certain level of knowledge and training.

Education Requirements

Candidates must possess a high school diploma or equivalent to pursue phlebotomist certification. Phlebotomy courses are offered at many community colleges and trade schools. Many institutions offer associate’s degree programs and certificate programs; these can take anywhere from a couple of semesters to two years to complete. Students are taught the fundamentals of anatomy and venipuncture. The coursework also includes physiology and CPR training; students will gain an understanding of medical literature used in the field. The importance of developing an attention to detail, abiding by safety protocols and following instructions are emphasized. Proper handling techniques of blood samples are taught.

Professional training in law, ethics and other soft skills such as dealing with patients are also provided. Interpersonal skills are highly regarded since interacting with patients, being sensitive to their needs and maintaining confidentiality are important in this field. Many of the phlebotomy courses involve practical hands-on training and some are delivered online. Classes may also be offered during evenings or on weekends to accommodate students who are currently working.

Work Experience

Many training programs offer internships to give students the opportunity to apply what they’ve learned in the classroom to real world scenarios that they will encounter in their careers. Internships typically span 6 months or longer and are an important part of the phlebotomist certification process.

Written Examination

Students are required to pass a written exam after they’ve successfully completed their academic program. These examinations are administered by a number of different agencies in the U.S. including the following:

  • National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
  • National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT)
  • American Credentialing Agency (ACA)
  • American Society for Clinical Pathology's Board of Certification (ASCP-BOC)
  • American Medical Technologists (AMT)

Depending on the agency, some candidates may be recognized as certified phlebotomists by submitting evidence of sufficient phlebotomy experience in lieu of writing the examination. Passing the exam certifies the individual as being qualified to work in the field.

Job Outlook

Successfully completing the phlebotomist certification process can open the door to numerous job opportunities. A career in phlebotomy can provide a decent salary; typical ranges are $15 to $20 per hour depending on experience. Some students spend time on their studies in other medical fields in addition to pursuing phlebotomy training. Job security is fairly good as there will always be a need for highly trained phlebotomists in hospitals, blood donation centers and other health care facilities.