The National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT) is an independent certification organization that has been around since 1989, testing in excess of 300,000 individuals throughout the United States for competency in the following roles: Certified Postsecondary Instructor, ECG Technician, Insurance and Coding Specialist, Medical Assistant, Medical Office Assistant, Patient Care Technician, Phlebotomy Technician, and Tech in Surgery.
There are two qualifying routes for most NCCT certifications, which means that both individuals with qualifying work experience and graduates of approved educational programs can apply. Candidates must meet all eligibility requirements as well as pass an examination based upon skills, knowledge, and abilities required at job entry in order to earn an NCCT credential. NCCT certification testing is designed to validate candidate competence, for the good of the public and the employers that hire them.
The National Center for Competency Testing begins its certification development by soliciting input from employers, practitioners, schools/colleges, organizations, instructors, accrediting bodies, programs, and others before determining which abilities, knowledge, and skills are relevant to the role. This information is used to guide the formation of content outlines and test specifications from which the questions for the examination are prepared. NCCT examinations are administered at test sites across the United States and proctored by autonomous individuals to ensure the security of the test content. Examinee results are also continuously monitored, and all of these restrictions and checks and balances serve to ensure that NCCT tests are valid for the purpose for which they are intended.
NCCT does not offer lifetime certification to applicants who pass a single exam as many other certifying agencies do, instead they require that their certificants clock a minimum of 14 hours of approved continuing education annually in order that they update their knowledge and retain their active certification status.
What Is A Competency Testing Organization?
A competency testing organization like the National Center for Competency Testing is an organization whose mission it is to help individuals to demonstrate competency, and are also often referred to as credentialing or certifying agencies. Some of these agencies started off with roots in founding organizations, such as the American Society of Clinical Pathologists (ASCP), which gave birth to the Board of Registry (BOR), which now operates independent of its founder. Other agencies are established without a connection to any specific organization, which allows them to offer their services to many, and are known as third-party certifiers. The National Center for Competency Testing is a prime example of an independent, third-party certification agency.
Sometimes the government is involved in this type of process as well, especially when it concerns licensure that is required by state law or statute for specified occupations. Licensure requirements in such states are governed by the laws and regulations of that specific state, which means that individuals who wish to practice a licensed profession in that state, are obliged to meet the standards that have been set for that state and are mandated by law.
In certain circumstances, some states use approved national certification exams for their own licensure purposes. A good example of this is the NCCT national Phlebotomy Technician certification examination, which is one of several certification examinations that are approved for use in the state of California in obtaining the required credentials as a Certified Phlebotomy Technician. The state of California decided, after the new regulations were enacted, that to use existing national certification exams as approved by the state department of Laboratory Field Services was a better idea than expending time and resources developing its own phlebotomy certification examination.
In the main, certification is voluntary for those who hold it. An example of this is the fact that virtually all graduates of four-year college degree programs in either Clinical Laboratory Science (CLS) or Medical Technology (MT) voluntarily sit for the national certification exam of their choice after graduation from college in order to prove to their potential employers that they meet established national standards. Employers have basically come to expect this, although it is not compulsory or required by law, and many make it a condition of hire.
Examination standards are established and reviewed by subject experts who know what the job is and how to define exactly what the practitioner should know and be able to do in any laboratory. Prospective employers are provided with an additional level of confidence in individuals who have passed the National Center for Competency Testing examinations, as they know that this means that no matter where the individual studied, they have been tested against the same minimum standards that other graduates from around the country were expected to meet and found eminently qualified and able to do the job.
Who Usually Undertakes Competency Testing?
Competency testing is undertaken by a variety of professionals who require licensure to practice, such as a doctor who has become additionally certified in specialty areas by performing residencies, fellowships, or has done other additional training. Registered nurses also require licensure to be able to practice, and may also do further studies in order to specialize in various fields.
State licensed cosmetologists often to specialized courses, such as a course to become a colorist, special cutting techniques, or other specialties, and although these specialties are rarely certified nationally, it would be in their best interest to do competency testing and gain certification, as this would give their clients more confidence in using their services.
Some of the entry level credentials that are available for those involved in healthcare are certifications for:
- Insurance and Coding Specialists
- Medical Office Assistants
- Medical Assistants
- Pharmacy Technicians
- Phlebotomy Technicians
- Patient Care Technicians
Requirements For Taking A Competency Examination
In general, reputable credentials are only issued to qualified applicants once they have passed a written examination, although requirements for taking the examination do tend to vary a great deal from test to test and institution to institution.
Some certifying agencies will only test applicants who have graduated from accredited programs of study, whist other institutions of certification are open to testing applicants who have obtained their qualification via other routes, such as by experience. This is welcomed by those individuals who have been performing the required tasks for years but do not have a formal qualification, as it means that they can get certified as being competent and can thereby further their careers. The National Center for Competency Testing is one of the former, as they test both individuals with qualifying work experience and graduates of approved educational programs.
Once an individual has been certified as being competent, there are various methods of maintaining that competence, such as proficiency testing, continuing education, and participation in quality assurance. This is important to both prospective employers and clients, as they can always tell whether an individual is competent or not and whether they have kept up with the most modern ways of doing things and the ability to use more modern technical equipment.
Competent professionals are proud to continually test their competency and continue with their education, as becoming professionally certified carries huge advantages in establishing one’s professional identity and in practicing by a code of ethics.
Employers take note of applicants who have been certified as well as of individual staff members who get certified and maintain their certification by taking part in ongoing education, as this not only demonstrates the capabilities, but also their dedication to their profession and their willingness to remain current and constantly improve their knowledge and capabilities.
Clients or consumers place great stock in professionals who have gained certification as this proves that the practitioner is qualified to do what they claim they can do, which instils the customer or client with a sense of confidence in the practitioner and gives them peace of mind which helps them to relax, which ultimately helps their healing process.
What Is The Value Of Competency Testing?
Being certified by the National Center for Competency Testing means that you have been found competent to perform the role for which you were tested. It will help you to obtain employment ahead of other people who have not been tested, as the certification proves to prospective employers that you have passed stringent tests that prove your competency in your field of expertise. Maintaining your certification year after year means that you have remained competent and are up to date with all of the current knowledge and are committed to continuing education, which will be noted by prospective employers and count in your favour when looking to obtain employment or even a promotion in a current position.
Employers and accreditors know and recognize the National Center for Competency Testing certification as being an established and recognized credentialing body that has high standards and will not certify anyone who has not meet their strict standards. This will prove to them that you are serious about your career and are proud to wear the professional designation that the certification gives you behind your name, and that you continue to do whatever it takes to remain successful and provide the best service possible.
What Are Competency, Certification And Credentials?
Although the terms competency, certification, and credentials are often interchanged, they actually have slightly different meanings:
- Competency refers to the ability, expertise and fundamental knowledge as defined for a specific subject area or skill set.
- Certification is strictly defined as a voluntary credentialing process, which is generally national in scope and is sponsored by a non-governmental, private-sector entity.
- Credentials refer both to the competencies as well as the letter designations which one adds behind one’s name once one has earned a degree, licensing or certification.
These definitions are generally used by employers to ascertain whether applicants have the necessary qualifications and experience as required for the job for which they are applying. The problem for employers comes in when they have candidates from various parts of the country who have the same qualification, for example an academic postsecondary degree, but who were trained in a completely different manner. This leaves the prospective employer with the dilemma as to which candidate would better suit the position, even if they both have excellent references.
This is where the credentials of a national certifying organization such as the National Center for Competency Testing play an important role, as certification by an independent national body attests to the fact that the individual meets pre-determined national standards.
Additional Services Offered
Apart from the competency testing, the NCCT also offer other services such as their great customer service, and they maintain a small company service for their customers, and also offer continuing education and specialty courses, patches, practice tests, incentive pins, review books, medical supplies, and a variety of other services offered only to approved schools, as described on the school products and services section of the website.
NCCT has reduced the number of questions in some of its certification exams, particularly the longer exams since the beginning of 2010 on the advice of its psychometricians, who advised this step in order to minimize examinee fatigue. This means that examinations will typically consist of between 10% and 20% fewer questions than they did previously. The item proportions in exam categories will, however, remain the same.
The National Center for Competency Testing has a new 30 Day Retest Policy, whereby students who fail their certification examination can retest after 30 days.
Why Should I Use NCCT?
The National Center for Competency Testing is an established, recognized independent third-party certification agency that has tested in excess of 300,000 individuals in the United States since 1989. NCCT hosts multiple certification exams and brings in Proctors to administer the exams in schools, which makes the certification testing easy for students.
The National Center for Competency Testing is a member of the Institute for Credentialing Excellence.
NCCT has an excellent website where you can find out more, or they can be contacted by e-mail or by phoning 800-875-4404 for further information.
Other Important Details are:
The National Center for Competency Testing
7007 College Blvd Suite 385 Overland Park KS 66211
Phone: 800.875.4404 Fax: 913.498.1243
Hours of Operation: Monday-Friday 8:30am to 7:00pm Central Standard Time
Saturday 9:00am to 3:00pm Central Standard Time