California phlebotomy certification rules are some of the strictest in the U.S, and picking a school that hasn’t been approved by the Department of Public Health can be a huge mistake. We’ve written a guide to those rules, so you can start your phlebotomy certification journey on the right footing.
Here are the answers to some common questions about California phlebotomy training:
Where can I enroll in phlebotomy classes?
That depends on whether you want to take your classes online or in-person. There is one available through Contra Costa Medical Career College Online, this program is only available for phlebotomists who have been previously certified and just want a refresher class. For new phlebotomists, the following counties have approved in-person phlebotomy training programs. Click on your preferred location and you’ll be taken to a list of schools in that area:
Who is required to obtain a phlebotomy license in California?
The California Department of Public Health decides who can and cannot work as a phlebotomist. According to their website:
Effective April 9, 2003, all persons performing phlebotomy who are not California licensed physicians, nurses or clinical lab scientists or other licensed professionals where phlebotomy is not in their scope of practice, must be certified as a phlebotomist before they can draw blood.
What does this mean? You will need a license if you plan to practice phlebotomy and you are not a doctor, nurse or lab scientist.
What kinds of phlebotomy certification can I earn in California?
There are 3 kinds of phlebotomy certification available. You can become a:
- Limited phlebotomy technician- these professionals can only perform skin punctures, such as the kind you might perform on a patient’s fingertip during a diabetes test. You might perform this procedure on infants and young children, elderly patients with fragile veins, or on severely burned patients.
- Certified phlebotomy technician I- these professionals can perform the above procedure, as well as venipunctures (blood draws taken from a vein). This is the most common type of procedure used to draw blood for laboratory tests.
- Certified phlebotomy technician II- these professionals can perform the above 2 procedures, as well as arterial punctures (blood draws taken from an artery). Arterial punctures are used when doctors want to check a patient for lung, kidney, metabolic, or other diseases.
What are the prerequisites for getting my certification?
If you have less than 1,040 hours of experience as a phlebotomist (for example, if you’re brand-new to phlebotomy, or you’ve been working as a phlebotomist in a state which doesn’t require a certification or license), you must meet the following requirements:
- You must have a high school diploma or GED certificate.
- You must have completed 40 hours of in-class phlebotomy instruction from an approved school.
- You must have completed 40 hours of hands-on phlebotomy practice, including at least 50 venipunctures and 10 skin punctures.
- You must have passed an approved State of California phlebotomy certification exam.
- You must have applied for certification, supplied proof that you’ve met the above requirements, and pay a fee.
If you have more than 1,040 hours of on-the-job experience, you’ll need to do the following:
- meet the same requirements as above, except you’ll only need 20 hours of in-class phlebotomy instruction instead of 40.
How can I prove that I’ve graduated from high school?
Contact your high school and request that your official transcripts be sent to the following address:
Alternately, you can request a copy of your official transcripts in a sealed envelope and provide this document to Lab Field Services as part of your phlebotomy certification application. Finally, another option is to include a notarized copy of your high school diploma in your application.
What if I’m not a high school graduate?
You’ll need to earn your GED.
What if I attended high school outside the U.S.?
- Earn your GED.
- Obtain an official translation of the foreign transcript and have your foreign degree evaluated by AACRAO.
Is there more than one exam I can take to get certified?
Yes, the following 6 organizations have been approved by the State of California to give phlebotomy certification exams:
- The American Certification Agency For Healthcare Professionals
- American Medical Technologists
- American Society for Clinical Pathology
- National Center for Competency Testing
- National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences
- National Healthcareer Association
PLEASE NOTE- each certification board has different requirements. For instance, some boards only require 50 venipunctures, while others require 100. So be sure to find out the requirements of the board whose exam you plan to take BEFORE choosing a phlebotomy training program.
What if I’ve already worked in another state? Do I still have to take a certification exam?
Yes, every practicing phlebotomist in the State of California must be certified via one of the above 6 exams.
How long will my certification last?
The California certification lasts for 2 years.
What are the requirements for renewing my certification after those 2 years are up?
You will need to complete 6 hours of continuing education training during those 2 years, as well as pay a renewal fee. You will receive a reminder notice 60 days prior to the expiration of your current certificate.
Where can I enroll for the above-mentioned continuing education classes?
Lab Field Services maintains a list of approved training programs on its website.
After I pass my exam, how long will it take for me to receive my certification?
Once Lab Field Services receives your complete application, you should expect to receive your certification within 90 days.
Can I work as a phlebotomist during those 90 days?
No, you cannot work as a phlebotomist until you receive your certificate from the state.
Where can I apply for certification?
Visit http://www.dhs.ca.gov/lfs. Here you can find an online application, sign up for the California phlebotomy certification exam, and even pay the exam enrollment fee by credit card.
Where can I find more information?
For more information or to check our sources, visit the California Department of Public Health’s Lab Field Services homepage.