Are There License Requirements to Become an Phlebotomist Tech?

Allied health professionals in the United States do not necessarily need to be licensed to practice their professions, mainly because some states do not require it. So for those who ask “are there license requirements to become an phlebotomist technician?”, the answer is, outside California, there is none. Phlebotomists are a subgroup of health support practitioners whose primary duty is to draw blood from live human or animal patients for laboratory analysis.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics group phlebotomists with medical technologists because the latter sub-group comprises all professions that deal with extracting specimens – blood, tissue, urine, feces – from patients for diagnosis, research or medical screening. While medical technologists generally need to be licensed to get hired, phlebotomists are not necessarily required to acquire one because there is no legal mandate established yet for across-the-board national standard for license.

Those who want to practice phlebotomy outside of California only need to sit for a certifying examination administered by three major accrediting bodies. These are the National Phlebotomy Association (NPA), American Society of Phlebotomy Technicians (ASPT) and American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP).

For aspirants to be eligible to sit in for certifying (or licensing, as in the case of California) examinations, they need to complete phlebotomy courses accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences or NAACLS. In lieu of this qualification, aspirants to the field can either complete a training program in as short as four months, or preferably a two-year certificate program. Four-year courses in the medical field like medical technology or nursing are also highly preferred , although most professionals graduating from this course need to be certified as phlebotomists (even though they may already be licensed as nurses or medical technologists) before they can perform any blood collection procedure.

In the absence of such formal or accredited training, an entrant to the profession may want to gain hands-on experience in the area. Typically, at least 100 unaided blood extractions have been performed by the aspirant before he or she can be allowed to sit in for certifying exams on top of completing coursework on academic requirements.

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            Certifications issued by the accrediting bodies are crucial in the absence of state license requirements. NPA, ASCP and ASPT determine the standards by which to evaluate the entrant, and passing their examinations assure the clients – hospitals, clinics, laboratories, biomedical research facilities – that a phlebotomist is equipped with the necessary knowledge and training to perform the job duties satisfactorily. In addition, because these medical institutions are also regulated by a higher accrediting agency, they are only likely to hire certified phlebotomists in compliance with business license requirements set forth by the governing body of the industry.

            A non-certified but experienced phlebotomist may be hired, but he or she will likely face limited options in terms of promotion or pay increase. In the event of unemployment, a non-certified phlebotomist may also likely face stiff competition from those who are registered with accrediting agencies. In conclusion, for those who wish to advance in their careers and ask “are there license requirements to become an phlebotomist technician?”, they will be well-advised to get certified because this will eventually be required should state licensing be instituted.

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