NHA CPT vs. AMCA PTC: Which Phlebotomy Technician Certification is Best?
There’s little doubt that certified phlebotomy technicians are among the most in-demand healthcare professionals today. Phlebotomy technicians perform an essential role in performing, collecting, and transporting laboratory specimens while interacting daily with patients.
As a CTE health science instructor, you may already be preparing your students to be medical assistants but are thinking about adding a phlebotomy technician program. You’re likely considering preparing your students for one of two nationally recognized certifications: the NHA CPT or the AMCA PTC. While you might have heard good things about one or both of these programs, you’re probably unsure which is more suitable for your phlebotomy technician program.
In this comparison, we’ll go into detail about the NHA CPT and the AMCA PTC to help you decide which is right for your program. Specifically, we’ll look at:
- Information about the providers
- Topics covered in each exam
- Eligibility requirements for certification
- The cost of each certification
- Which certification you should implement
After reviewing this post, you should have a better idea if the NHA CPT or the AMCA PTC is more suitable for your phlebotomy technician program.
What Are the NHA and AMCA?
NHA and AMCA are similar certification providers, but there are a few differences between the two.
Generally speaking, some educators prefer the long history of NHA, while other teachers favor the wide variety of options available through AMCA.
Below, you’ll find a closer look at the differences between these two providers.
What Is the NHA?
The National Healthcareer Association (NHA) is a well-known provider of industry-recognized health science certifications.
The NHA serves health science professionals through various certifications and professional development opportunities and has awarded more than 750,000 certifications since 1989.
The NHA focuses on improving the quality of patient care while facilitating future opportunities for students in the health occupations pathway. Currently, NHA offers eight specific health science certifications, including the Certified Phlebotomy Technician (CPT).
What is the AMCA?
The American Medical Certification Association (AMCA) is another health science certification provider with support from educators nationwide.
The AMCA serves professionals across the allied healthcare industry and seeks to certify competent professionals in both administrative and clinical capacities.
The AMCA has been certifying students in health science fields since 2010 but makes up for its shorter history by offering more than double of the certification options of NHA. In total, there are six AMCA administrative certifications and 13 clinical certification options, including the Phlebotomy Technician Certification (PTC).
What Topics Does Each Phlebotomy Technician Certification Cover?
Both the NHA CPT and the AMCA PTC are nationally recognized certifications with similar subject matter. However, each certification varies slightly in what content it covers.
Both the NHA and AMCA certification exams are 100 questions long. On test day, students are allocated up to two hours to complete the 100 questions on the exam.
What Topics Does the NHA CPT Cover?
The NHA CPT covers every topic students need to know to work successfully as a phlebotomy technician in a clinical setting.
Specifically, the CPT assesses these key concepts:
- Safety and compliance
- Patient preparation
- Routine blood collections
- Special collections
- Processing specimens
Furthermore, the CPT also tests students on their ability to complete the following:
- Draw blood from patients and blood donors
- Evaluate patients’ ability to withstand the procedure and feel comfortable
- Explain blood-drawing procedure to patients and answer questions
- Performing basic point-of-care testing, such as reading blood glucose levels
- Preparing blood, urine, and other specimens for testing
- Maintaining medical equipment such as needles, test tubes, and blood vials
More detailed information on test criteria is available within NHA’s test prep resources, which they offer through their website at an additional cost.
What Topics Does the AMCA PTC Cover?
Like the NHA certification, the AMCA PTC covers all topic areas necessary for students to perform the daily clinical functions of a phlebotomy technician.
According to AMCA, the PTC exam covers these particular areas of competency:
- Performing venipunctures
- Performing capillary draws
- Transporting specimens to the laboratory
- Professionally interacting with patients
- Treating patients with empathy and compassion
- Respecting patients’ rights
- Recognizing the need for continuing education and staying current in healthcare mandates
Teachers and students considering the PTC can also refer to AMCA’s PTC Exam Blueprint for additional details on what they need to know for certification, including how each content domain area is weighted.
What Are the Eligibility Requirements for Each Phlebotomy Technician Certification?
Not just any student can sit to take the NHA or AMCA. Each state sets out specific requirements for certifying individuals as phlebotomy technicians.
In Louisiana, for example, trainees must perform at least 100 venipunctures and 25 capillary sticks to be eligible for certification. For this reason, it’s always important to check the requirements in your state before planning your phlebotomy technician course.
In addition, NHA and AMCA have their own requirements and recommendations for students preparing for certification.
What Are the Eligibility Requirements for the NHA CPT?
In order to sit for any NHA exam, students must have earned a high school diploma or GED and have completed either a recognized training program within the past five years or have at least one year of supervised work experience in the specific field for which they seek certification.
In addition, the NHA has special requirements for students sitting for the Certified Phlebotomy Technician (CPT) exam. In order to take the CPT, all candidates must demonstrate that they have performed a minimum of 30 venipunctures and 10 capillary sticks on live individuals.
What Are the Eligibility Requirements for the AMCA PTC?
To be eligible for an AMCA certification, candidates face similar requirements to those of NHA. Students need to have earned a high school diploma or equivalent, be 18 years of age, and have either finished an approved training program or have a minimum of one year of full-time work experience in the field in which they seek certification.
In addition, students who have completed a training program need to pass the PTC exam within one year of completing their program. Students also need to agree to the AMCA Code of Ethics and take the exam at an approved test site.
AMCA recommends but does not require students to have completed a minimum of 30 venipunctures and 10 capillary sticks. However, candidates must still meet requirements in their particular states.
How Much Does Each Phlebotomy Technician Certification Cost?
Regardless of the provider, students will have to pay a fee to take the NHA CPT or the AMCA PTC examination, so you’ll want to make sure students pass the first time.
Depending on the provider, students can also purchase additional resources to help them prepare for their certification tests.
How Much Does the NHA CPT Cost?
The NHA offers several different options for students sitting for the CPT assessment. While many students choose to pay only for the CPT certification itself, NHA also offers a practice test and study guide to help students prepare for test day. The practice test and study guide are available both in digital and print formats.
A basic breakdown of costs related to the NHA CPT is as follows:
NHA CPT Product
Cost Per Student
Certified Phlebotomy Technician (CPT) Exam
Online Practice Test
Online Study Guide
Printed Study Guide
Online Practice Test and Online Study Guide
Online Practice Test and Printed Study Guide
NHA’s test prep materials are optional and students can choose to forgo using them. However, some learners prefer to pay for additional resources to ensure they are prepared on test day.
How Much Does the AMCA PTC Cost?
Unlike the NHA CPT, students who take the AMCA PTC do not have the option to purchase additional test prep materials from AMCA. The only phlebotomy technician product AMCA offers for sale is the PTC assessment, which costs $109 per student.
AMCA does have test materials available specific to the PTC, but unlike NHA materials, these are available at no additional charge through the AMCA websites.
When candidates register for the PTC, they receive access to these resources:
- Study Guides in PDF format
- Unlimited practice tests up to the day before the exam
- AMCA PTC Quizlet account for on-the-go studying
Whether or not they choose to use AMCA prep materials, PTC candidates are only responsible for the $109 cost of the certification exam.
Which Phlebotomy Technician Certification Should You Implement?
Whether you should implement the NHA CPT or the AMCA PTC as your program’s phlebotomy technician certification will depend on several factors.
Before you commit to one certification or the other, you should consider the following important factors:
- Your course standards
- Specific certification requirements in your state
- The preferred provider in your local area
- If your institution is already working with NHA or AMCA
For most CTE health science programs, you could choose either the NHA CPT or the AMCA PTC and satisfy your course standards and state requirements. However, there may be a preferred provider in your area, which might make it easier for your students to find employment with one certification or the other.
Finally, if your institution is already working with NHA or AMCA for additional certifications, it probably makes the most sense to use the same provider for your phlebotomy technician certification.
Need Help Building Your Phlebotomy Technician Program?
Finding the proper phlebotomy technician certification is critical to ensuring your students get certified and employed in an exciting and expanding healthcare field. The National Healthcareer Association (NHA) and American Medical Certification Association (AMCA) both offer accredited, reputable certification solutions that can work for your program.
Whether you choose the NHA Certified Phlebotomy Technician (CPT) or the AMCA Phlebotomy Technician Certification (PCT) will depend on your course standards, specific requirements, and if your program is already working with NHA or AMCA.
To make sure your students are fully prepared to work as phlebotomy technicians, however, it’s crucial to ensure that your health science curriculum prepares each learner for success.
To help you move forward in creating an excellent phlebotomy technician program, read more about How to Build a Certified Phlebotomy Technician (CPT) Curriculum.
In this article, you’ll learn the five key steps to building your ideal CPT curriculum to set your students up for success.