NHA Certified Phlebotomy Technician (CPT) Exam & Certification Guide

If you are thinking about starting a job in healthcare, you might consider becoming a Certified Phlebotomy Technician (CPT). A CPT is someone who has earned a certification from the National Healthcareer Association by completing a phlebotomy course and passing the CPT exam. 

While not all states and healthcare facilities require phlebotomists to be certified, getting your certification may help you get a job, earn more money, or get a promotion. 

This guide goes over what’s on the NHA’s CPT exam, the requirements to take it, what you have to do to get your CPT certification, and more.

Overview of the NHA & CPT Certification

The National Healthcareer Association (NHA) is an organization that provides credentialing services for many different types of careers. They offer certification exams for medical assistants, pharmacy technicians, phlebotomy technicians, and more. 

The NHA has been providing these services since 1989 and is one of the most trusted certifying organizations across the United States. 

Earning your CPT certification shows that you are knowledgeable and have the basic skills necessary to work as a phlebotomy technician. 

A large majority of employers prefer to hire phlebotomists who have already gotten their certification, even in states where it is not required. Because of this, Certified Phlebotomy Technicians may find a job more quickly, earn higher starting salaries, and be more likely to receive promotions. 

CPTs can work in hospitals, clinics, blood donation centers, outpatient facilities, and other healthcare facilities. 

Their main responsibility is to collect blood via venipuncture and send it to a laboratory for testing. Blood drawn by phlebotomists helps the healthcare team make a diagnosis and form a treatment plan for their patients. 

To become a CPT, you must complete a training course and complete an official exam that is given by a certifying organization. 

Before we dive into what’s on the CPT exam, we wanted to let you know about our 4-Week Online Phlebotomy Program here at Stepful. We teach you everything you need to know to become a successful phlebotomist and prepare you for your CPT exam—which our graduates have a 90% pass rate on.

More About the NHA’s CPT Exam

The NHA’s CPT exam is one of the most widely recognized phlebotomy examinations in the nation. Passing the CPT exam shows potential employers that you are serious about your job and have the knowledge and skills you need to do it well. 

What’s on the CPT Exam & Requirements to Pass

The CPT exam consists of 100 questions and has a 2-hour time limit. The test covers several topics that are important for a phlebotomist to understand, including:

Topic Details
Safety and Compliance Operational standards and workplace safety standards
Patient Preparation Consent, patient position, patient identification
Routine Blood Collection Equipment, tourniquet application, antiseptic venipuncture
Special Collection Cultures, peripheral smears, and non-blood specimen collection.
Processing Storing samples, maintaining specimen integrity, and distributing results to ordering providers.
General Knowledge Medical terminology, blood components, and documentation   

When you take your exam, you will not be allowed to bring anything inside the testing center with you. Notes, calculators, and scratch paper are all prohibited during all NHA certification exams.  

Requirements to Pass the CPT Exam

The NHA uses a scaled scoring system to grade your exam and determine whether or not you pass. Each question on the CPT exam has multiple forms and is assigned a different value based on its difficulty. 

Scaled test results range from a low of 200 to a high of 500. Since some questions are more difficult than others, they are not all worth the same amount of points. You must score at least 390 on the scale to pass the exam. 

How Much the CPT Exam Costs

The CPT exam costs $125. This must be paid at the time you register to take your test. Some training programs include exam fees in their tuition. 

To maintain your certification, you have to pay a fee of $179 every two years. If you have multiple certifications through the NHA, each additional certification can be renewed for a discounted rate of $60 every two years. 

How to Prepare for the CPT Exam

The best way to prepare for the CPT exam is to complete an accredited training program. Phlebotomy training programs like ours here at Stepful provide you with the tools and training you’ll need to pass your exam. 

In addition to completing a training program, the NHA provides helpful test prep materials like practice exams and study guides. 

CPT Exam Statistics

Most people who take the CPT exam pass on their first attempt. Of all of the NHA examinations. The CPT exam has the highest passing rate. 

NHA exam statistics show that the passing rate for the CPT exam was 77.31% in 2022. At that time, there were 113,275 active CPT certifications in the United States. 

For reference, graduates of our program at Stepful have a pass rate of 90% on the CPT exam.

Renewing Your CPT Certification

Just because you pass your CPT exam does not mean you are finished learning about and studying phlebotomy. After you pass your exam, you'll need to maintain your certification. 

To renew your certification, you must complete 10 hours of continuing education and pay a $179 fee every two years. 

If you let your certification expire, you have one year to reinstate it by completing 15 continuing education (CE) credits and paying a renewal fee of $268.50 plus a $99 reinstatement fee for a total of $367.50. 

If your certification has expired for more than 12 months, you must retake a training course and your exam. 

How to Become a Certified Phlebotomy Technician (CPT) Through the NHA

Before you can take your CPT exam, you must meet certain eligibility requirements. After that, you'll need to study hard and pass your exam. 

Here are the steps to becoming a certified phlebotomist through the NHA:

  1. Earn a high school diploma or GED.  Before you can enroll in a phlebotomy training program, you’ll need to get your high school diploma or a GED. 
  2. Choose a training program. Decide whether you want to enroll in an online or in-person training program. Make sure you choose an accredited organization with high exam passing rates, such as Stepful
  3. Check your eligibility. Candidates for the CPT exam must perform 30 successful venipunctures and 10 capillary or finger sticks on a life person before taking the written test. 
  4. Schedule your exam. Certification exams must be taken with a life proctor or at an official testing center. You must take your exam within 6 months of completing your training and registering with a testing center. 
  5. Study up! Even though the CPT exam has a high passing rate, you still have to study and prepare for your exam. Use study guides from your training program, take practice tests, and take advantage of online resources to help you prepare. 
  6. Schedule your exam. Register for your exam through the PSI website to find an official testing center. 
  7. Take your test and get your results. You will be able to see your results immediately after you take your exam. Your official results will be posted to the AHA website about 48 hours after you finish your test. 
  8. Start applying for jobs. Websites like Monster and Indeed are great ways to build a resume and apply for jobs. You can also go directly to an organization's website and look for job postings there. 
  9. Maintain your certification. After you get a job and start working as a phlebotomist, make sure you do not let your certification expire. CPT certifications need to be renewed every two years. 

What is a Certified Phlebotomy Technician & What Do They Do?

A phlebotomy technician is an important member of the healthcare team. The samples they collect can help providers diagnose and treat everything from mild electrolyte imbalance to serious illnesses like cancer and heart failure. 

Phlebotomists usually collect blood samples from patients in hospitals and clinics. Some of their responsibilities include: 

  • Performing venipuncture 
  • Drawing arterial blood
  • Collecting blood from peripheral sticks 
  • Collecting nasal swab samples 
  • Keeping patients calm during blood draws
  • Delivering samples for processing 
  • Placing IV catheters for blood donation 

Certified Phlebotomist Salaries & Job Outlook

The average phlebotomist earns $37,380 per year or about $18 per hour. Of course, the average salary depends on your location, experience, and any extra certifications you may have.

The job outlook for phlebotomists is higher than the average for all other jobs in the United States. The expected job growth for phlebotomists is around 10% through the year 2031, while the national average is closer to only 5%. If you are looking for job security, phlebotomy is a great career choice. 

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