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Top 11 Specimen Processor Certifications

This article will provide an overview of the top certifications available for specimen processors, including requirements and benefits.

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Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 18 min read

Certifications for a specimen processor are important in the job market as they demonstrate to employers that the individual has acquired specialized knowledge and skills in specimen processing. This is especially important for positions in laboratories, where accuracy and attention to detail are essential. Having certifications also shows employers that the individual is committed to their career and has taken the time and effort to learn best practices in the field. Additionally, certifications can often lead to higher pay due to their perceived value.

The purpose of this article is to review some of the top certifications for Specimen Processors and explain how they can help advance a specimen processor's career.

What are Specimen Processor Certifications?

Specimen Processor Certification is a program designed to equip laboratory personnel with the knowledge and skills necessary to properly process patient samples for laboratory testing. It provides a comprehensive training in specimen collection, specimen handling, data entry, and quality control/assurance. This certification helps ensure that specimens are collected and prepared correctly so that accurate test results can be reported to clinicians in a timely manner. Properly trained and certified specimen processors can reduce errors due to mishandling of specimens, help maintain chain-of-custody records, reduce unnecessary delays in reporting of results, and improve overall patient safety by ensuring that the correct specimens are used for testing. Additionally, it can help laboratories meet accreditation requirements and provide assurance of quality standards.

Pro Tip: Ensure that the specimen processor certification program you are considering is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP). This will ensure that your certification meets the highest standards and is accepted by employers.

Related: What does a Specimen Processor do?

Top 11 Specimen Processor Certifications

Here’s our list of the best certifications available to Specimen Processors today.

1. ASCP Certified Medical Laboratory Scientist (MLS)

ASCP Certified Medical Laboratory Scientist (MLS) is a professional certification for individuals who work in the medical laboratory science field. This certification is awarded by the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) and is recognized as a mark of excellence in the field.

To become an ASCP Certified Medical Laboratory Scientist, applicants must meet certain eligibility requirements, including having a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university in medical laboratory science or a related field, at least one year of full-time clinical laboratory experience within the last five years, and passing the ASCP Board of Certification (BOC) examination.

The BOC exam consists of two parts: a written portion and a practical portion. The written portion covers topics such as hematology, immunohematology, chemistry, microbiology, molecular diagnostics, urinalysis/body fluids, and safety/quality assurance. The practical portion includes specimen collection, processing, testing and reporting.

It typically takes several months to prepare for the BOC exam. Applicants should consult with their program director or local state licensing agency to determine what resources are available to help them prepare for the exam.

The cost of taking the BOC exam varies depending on where you take it; however it generally ranges from $200-$400 USD.

2. ASCP Certified Histotechnician (HT)

ASCP Certified Histotechnician (HT) is a professional certification program offered by the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP). This certification is designed to recognize individuals who have demonstrated mastery of the knowledge and skills required for competent performance as a histotechnologist.

To become an ASCP Certified Histotechnician, individuals must meet certain educational and experience requirements, pass an examination, and pay a fee. The education requirement includes completion of an accredited histotechnology program or equivalent coursework in histology, anatomy, physiology, chemistry, and medical terminology. In addition, applicants must have at least one year of full-time work experience in histology or equivalent part-time work experience over two years.

The examination consists of 125 multiple-choice questions covering topics such as tissue processing; embedding; microtomy; staining; immunohistochemistry; safety and quality control; laboratory management; and clinical correlations. The exam fee is $200 USD for ASCP members and $250 USD for non-members.

The exam can be taken at any Prometric testing center in the United States or Canada. It typically takes about three hours to complete the exam. Results are available within two weeks after taking the test.

Once certified, individuals must renew their certification every three years by completing continuing education activities and paying a renewal fee of $100 USD for ASCP members or $125 USD for non-members.

3. AMT Registered Medical Laboratory Technician (RMT)

AMT Registered Medical Laboratory Technician (RMT) is a certification offered by the American Medical Technologists (AMT) organization. It is a professional credential that demonstrates an individual has achieved the necessary knowledge, skills, and abilities to practice as a medical laboratory technician.

To become certified as an RMT, individuals must meet certain eligibility requirements including having graduated from an accredited program in medical technology or clinical laboratory science and completing at least one year of full-time work experience in a clinical laboratory setting. In addition, applicants must pass the AMT Registered Medical Laboratory Technician exam.

The AMT Registered Medical Laboratory Technician exam consists of 150 multiple-choice questions covering topics such as safety, quality assurance, specimen collection and processing, hematology and coagulation, urinalysis and body fluids, microbiology, immunology/serology/molecular diagnostics and immunohematology. The exam takes approximately three hours to complete.

The cost for the AMT Registered Medical Laboratory Technician exam varies depending on whether you are an AMT member or non-member. For members it costs $115 while for non-members it costs $150.

4. NCCT Certified Phlebotomy Technician (CPT)

NCCT Certified Phlebotomy Technician (CPT) is a nationally recognized certification for phlebotomists. It is a credential that demonstrates the knowledge and skills of an individual in the field of phlebotomy. This certification is offered by the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT).

To become certified, an individual must pass an NCCT-administered exam. The exam covers topics such as anatomy and physiology, laboratory safety, infection control, specimen collection techniques, specimen processing, and quality assurance. The exam consists of 100 multiple choice questions and takes approximately two hours to complete.

In order to be eligible to take the CPT exam, applicants must have completed a minimum of 40 hours of documented training in phlebotomy or have at least one year of experience working as a phlebotomist. Additionally, applicants must submit proof of their education or work experience to NCCT prior to taking the exam.

The cost of the CPT exam is $125 for members of NCCT and $145 for non-members. Once you have passed the CPT exam, you will receive your certification within 4-6 weeks after passing the test. Your certification will remain valid for three years from the date it was issued and can be renewed by retaking the CPT exam or completing continuing education credits in phlebotomy related topics.

5. ASCP Certified Cytotechnologist (CT)

A ASCP Certified Cytotechnologist (CT) is a professional who specializes in the microscopic examination of cells for the diagnosis and treatment of diseases. They are responsible for preparing slides, performing tests, and interpreting results. The certification is offered by the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP).

To become an ASCP Certified Cytotechnologist, you must have a bachelor's degree in medical technology or clinical laboratory science from an accredited institution. You must also have at least one year of full-time experience as a cytotechnologist or equivalent training. After completing these requirements, you can apply to take the ASCP Board of Certification (BOC) exam.

The exam consists of two parts: a written portion and a practical portion. The written portion covers topics such as cell biology, microscopy techniques, slide preparation, specimen collection, and laboratory safety. The practical portion involves performing tests on actual specimens under simulated conditions.

It typically takes about 6 months to prepare for the exam and pass it successfully. During this time, you should review study materials provided by the BOC and practice with sample questions to become familiar with the format and content of the exam.

The cost of taking the exam varies depending on your location but generally ranges from $200-$400 USD. Additionally, there may be additional fees associated with registering for the exam or obtaining study materials from third-party vendors.

6. AMT Registered Clinical Laboratory Assistant/Technician (RCLA/RCLT)

AMT Registered Clinical Laboratory Assistant/Technician (RCLA/RCLT) is a certification that demonstrates an individual’s knowledge and skills in the field of clinical laboratory science. It is a nationally recognized credential that shows employers that you have met rigorous standards in education, training, and experience.

To get the AMT RCLA/RCLT certification, you must first meet the eligibility requirements which include having a high school diploma or equivalent and either completing an accredited medical laboratory technician program or having at least one year of full-time experience as a clinical laboratory assistant/technician. You must also pass the RCLA/RCLT exam administered by AMT.

The cost to take the RCLA/RCLT exam is $135 for members of AMT and $185 for non-members. The exam consists of 150 multiple choice questions and takes approximately 3 hours to complete.

Upon successful completion of the exam, you will be awarded your RCLA/RCLT certification from AMT which will be valid for three years. To maintain your certification, you must complete continuing education credits every three years to keep your certification current.

7. NCCT Certified Medical Laboratory Technician (MLT)

NCCT Certified Medical Laboratory Technician (MLT) is a certification program offered by the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT). It is designed to validate the knowledge, skills and abilities of medical laboratory technicians. The certification is awarded to those who successfully pass an exam that covers topics such as safety and quality control, specimen collection and processing, clinical laboratory testing, and laboratory information systems.

To become certified as an MLT, individuals must have completed a formal training program in medical laboratory technology or have equivalent experience. After completing the required training or experience, applicants must then pass the NCCT MLT Certification Exam. This exam consists of 100 multiple-choice questions covering topics such as safety and quality control, specimen collection and processing, clinical laboratory testing, and laboratory information systems.

The cost of taking the NCCT MLT Certification Exam varies depending on the location of the test center. Generally speaking, it costs around $150 to take the exam. Additionally, there may be additional fees for materials such as study guides or practice tests.

It typically takes about four weeks to receive results from taking the NCCT MLT Certification Exam. Once an individual has passed the exam they will receive their official certification from NCCT which is valid for three years. To maintain their certification status beyond this time period they must complete continuing education credits every two years in order to renew their certification status.

8. ASCP Certified Molecular Biology Technologist (MBT)

ASCP Certified Molecular Biology Technologist (MBT) is a professional certification program offered by the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP). It is designed to recognize individuals who have demonstrated knowledge and competency in molecular biology techniques, including DNA/RNA extraction, PCR, sequencing, and bioinformatics.

The MBT certification is valid for three years and requires recertification every three years to maintain the credential. To become certified as an MBT, applicants must have a bachelor’s degree in a biological science or related field and must pass the ASCP Molecular Biology Technologist Certification Examination. The exam consists of multiple-choice questions covering topics such as laboratory safety and quality control, sample preparation and handling, molecular biology techniques and bioinformatics.

The cost of the exam varies depending on the country where it is taken but typically ranges from $200-$300 USD. Additionally, there are fees associated with application processing ($50 USD) as well as annual maintenance fees ($50 USD).

9. ASCP Certified Surgical Technologist (CST)

The ASCP Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) is a professional certification for surgical technologists. It is awarded by the American Society of Clinical Pathology (ASCP). The certification recognizes individuals who have achieved a high level of competency in the field of surgical technology.

To become certified, individuals must complete an accredited surgical technology program and pass an exam administered by the ASCP Board of Certification. The exam consists of both written and practical components, which are designed to test knowledge and skills related to patient care, operating room safety, instrumentation, and other aspects of surgical technology.

It typically takes between six months to one year to prepare for the exam. During this time, it is important for candidates to review material from their program as well as study materials provided by the ASCP. Additionally, candidates should take practice exams in order to become familiar with the format of the actual exam.

The cost for taking the exam varies depending on whether or not you are a member of ASCP. For non-members, the fee is $300; for members, it is $225. Additionally, there may be additional fees associated with registering for the exam or taking it at a testing center.

Once certified, CSTs must renew their certification every five years by completing continuing education credits and paying an annual renewal fee.

10. AMT Registered Histologic Technician (HTL)

AMT Registered Histologic Technician (HTL) is a certification for histology technicians who have completed an accredited histologic technician program and passed the AMT exam. This certification is designed to ensure that individuals are qualified to perform histological procedures and techniques in a laboratory setting.

It typically takes six months to one year to complete the necessary requirements for this certification, depending on the individual’s experience and educational background. To become certified, applicants must first complete an accredited histologic technician program, which includes coursework in anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, safety protocols, laboratory practices, and pathology. After completing the program, applicants must then pass the AMT exam with a score of 75% or higher.

The cost of obtaining this certification varies depending on the institution providing the program and/or exam. The cost of the program itself can range from $500-$2,000 or more depending on its length and content. The cost of taking the AMT exam is currently $165 for members ($225 for non-members). Additionally, there may be other costs associated with obtaining this certification such as travel expenses or additional fees for materials or textbooks.

Overall, becoming an AMT Registered Histologic Technician (HTL) is a great way to demonstrate your knowledge and skills in histology and gain recognition within the field.

11. NCCT National Certified Specimen Processor/Medical Lab Assistant (NCSP/MLA-C).

NCCT National Certified Specimen Processor/Medical Lab Assistant (NCSP/MLA-C) is a certification program offered by the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT). It is designed to recognize the knowledge and skills of individuals who work in medical laboratories, including specimen processors, medical lab assistants, and other laboratory personnel. The program provides an opportunity for laboratory professionals to demonstrate their competence and commitment to quality patient care.

The NCCT NCSP/MLA-C certification requires applicants to pass a written exam that covers topics such as specimen collection, processing, and handling; laboratory safety; quality assurance; infection control; and medical terminology. The exam consists of 100 multiple-choice questions that must be completed within two hours.

To become certified, applicants must meet certain eligibility requirements, including having at least one year of experience in the field or completing an accredited training program. Applicants must also submit a completed application form with payment of $125.00 USD.

Once all requirements have been met, applicants can register for the exam through the NCCT website and pay an additional fee of $90.00 USD. After passing the exam, applicants will receive their certificate within 4-6 weeks.

The NCCT NCSP/MLA-C certification is valid for three years from the date it was issued. To maintain certification status, individuals must complete 12 continuing education credits every three years.

Do You Really Need a Specimen Processor Certificate?

The answer to this question depends on the field of work that you are pursuing. A Specimen Processor Certificate is typically required for jobs in medical laboratories, where it is necessary to be able to accurately process and analyze specimens such as blood, urine, or tissue samples. It also may be necessary for certain positions in research laboratories or clinical settings. If you are looking to work as a laboratory assistant or technician, then it would be beneficial for you to obtain one of these certificates.

In addition to being a requirement for many laboratory positions, having a Specimen Processor Certificate can demonstrate your commitment and knowledge of the profession. The certificate shows that you have taken the time and effort to gain a formal education in specimen processing and analysis. It can also provide employers with an indication of your dedication and attention to detail when it comes to handling specimens.

Overall, if you are interested in working in a laboratory setting where specimen processing is part of the job requirements, then obtaining a Specimen Processor Certificate will likely be beneficial for you. However, if your desired position does not require this type of certification, then it may not be necessary for you to pursue one at this time.

Related: Specimen Processor Resume Examples

FAQs About Specimen Processor Certifications

Q: What is a Specimen Processor Certification?

A: Specimen Processor Certifications are qualifications that demonstrate an individual's knowledge and competency in specimen processing. This includes the preparation of biological specimens for testing, analysis, and storage.

Q: How do I get certified as a Specimen Processor?

A: To become certified as a Specimen Processor, you must complete an accredited training program and pass an examination. Depending on your location, some jurisdictions may require additional certifications or licenses.

Q: Are there any prerequisites for becoming a Certified Specimen Processor?

A: Yes, most accredited training programs will require applicants to have completed at least a high school diploma or equivalent before enrolling in the program. Additionally, some programs may also require participants to have completed certain laboratory courses or have prior laboratory experience.

Q: How long does it take to become a Certified Specimen Processor?

A: The duration of the certification process depends on the specific program you choose to pursue. Generally speaking, most accredited programs can be completed in 6-12 months depending on your availability and commitment level.

Q: What are the benefits of becoming a Certified Specimen Processor?

A: Becoming certified as a Specimen Processor provides individuals with numerous career opportunities within the laboratory field. In addition to having access to higher paying jobs and better job security, becoming certified also allows individuals to demonstrate their expertise and gain recognition from employers and peers alike.