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What Education is Needed to Become a Phlebotomist in California?

What education is needed to become a phlebotomist in California will depend on your background. Very broadly, it’s about 40 hours of classroom training and 40 hours of clinical training. However, California has three different sets of requirements depending on whether or not you have any on-the-job phlebotomy experience. 

That matters, because some of those hours of on-the-job experience may translate into reduced time in the classroom. Depending on your background, you can either take a full phlebotomy course or a phlebotomy refresher course to meet California’s standards. However, if your main focus is employability, you should choose a program with a strong reputation and a thorough curriculum.

The Education Needed to Become a Phlebotomist in California

In California, you will need to have a Certified Phlebotomy Technician 1 (CPT-1) license to take blood from patients without the supervision of a doctor. The California Department of Public Health, Laboratory Field Services Division, sets baseline requirements, separated into three different tiers, for education as well as experience for obtaining a CPT-1. Individuals who have had on-the-job phlebotomy training may be able to use that training to reduce the time they have to spend completing classroom and clinical work. The three tiers are broken down as follows:

No on-the-job training 40 to 1,040 hours of training Over 1,040 hours of training
  • 40 hours of basic and advanced classroom phlebotomy training
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  • 40 hours of clinical training that includes the performance of at least 50 venipunctures,10 skin punctures, and observation of arterialpunctures
  • 40 hours of basic and advanced classroom phlebotomy training
  •  
  • Complete at least 40 hours of experience in a clinical setting in the last five years, with the performance of at least 50 venipunctures, 10 skin punctures, and observation of arterial punctures
  • 20 hours of advanced classroom phlebotomy training
  •  
  • Documented completion of at least 50 venipunctures, 10 skin punctures, and observation of arterial punctures

Regardless of what category you fall into, the state of California requires that you attend an approved training program that meets quality standards. Someone who falls into the first two categories would probably want to take a full phlebotomy course, while someone who falls into the last category could probably take a phlebotomy refresher program that only focuses on the 20 hours of required training. The best phlebotomy programs usually include three components: classroom, clinical, and externship training.

Breaking Down Classroom, Clinical, and Externship Training

A comprehensive phlebotomy program will include components of classroom, clinical, and externship training, and the program usually follows that order as well. The student starts in classroom training and works their way up to their externship.

  • Classroom training: Someone with no on-the-job experience will need to have both basic and advanced classroom training on phlebotomy. Common classes include an introduction to specimen collection, risk factors, quality assurance, venipuncture and skin puncture techniques, professional behavior, ethics, and more.
  • Clinical training: During clinical training, students will practice venipunctures and skin puncture techniques in a low-risk environment. They may start on models before moving on to exercises in groups and with partners. The goal of clinical training is to get students familiar with the muscle memory required to take blood from patients. 
  • Externship: The externship brings it all together. Students will use what they learned in the classroom and in clinical training to work in a professional environment. They’ll also make valuable connections and meet potential future employers.

A good program will include all three of these components to ensure that students are ready to take on the responsibilities of a licensed California phlebotomist. A good program will also have a strong reputation within the community it serves.

Why Reputation Matters in Phlebotomy Education 

What education is needed to become a phlebotomist in California isn’t just a matter of clinical and classroom hours—it’s a matter of reputation. Almost all area employers are familiar with the local phlebotomy schools and the students they turn out. A program with a strong reputation will appeal to those prospective employers.

You can vet the reputation of the school by looking at the externship opportunities they offer. Do they work with well-known, reputable healthcare providers that you would want to work with someday? If the answer is no, then you may want to reconsider your options. The best phlebotomy program for you is going to give you the connections to work with the top employers. That’s why reputation matters so much.

Starting out your career on the right foot isn’t just about what education is needed to become a phlebotomist in California—it’s about finding a school with a supportive community that can help you network down the road. After all, if your goal is to create a successful, rewarding career, you should always focus on the quality of the program.

BAMA Institute is a trusted provider of the education needed to become a phlebotomist in California. We’ve been training students since we helped set the standards for phlebotomy back in 2003. Area employers know us, and they trust our graduates. If you’re interested in becoming one of them, reach out to an admissions representative.

Accreditation and Certifications

California Department of Public Health
Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education

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