The Certified Laboratory Equipment Specialist (CLES) Exam

Through effective standards and educational programs as well as through the positive use of medical instrumentation, the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI) works to advance its mission. AAMI is a primary source for the healthcare industry, its related professions, and the government for information on medical instrumentation and technology, including national and international standards. AAMI supports its members by keeping them informed of new technologies and developments in pertinent policies as well as offering them the ability to both enhance their professional skills and improve patient care.

Under the direction of the International Certification Commission (ICC) and the United States Certification Commission (USCC), the Board of Examiners for Biomedical Equipment Technicians maintains several certification programs, one of which is the certification for laboratory equipment specialists. By obtaining certification, clinical engineers and biomedical equipment technicians demonstrate a level of knowledge and competence that allows them to work toward ensuring a healthcare environment that is both safe and reliable. Certification is also a sign to employers that the healthcare professional has made a significant commitment to their career.

  • Candidates for this certification must meet certain eligibility requirements, including successfully passing the Certified Laboratory Equipment Specialist (CLES) examination. Depending on their levels of education and work experience, upon passing the examination the individual attains either full certification status or certification candidacy status. An examinee must achieve a minimum score of 116 correct responses out of the total 165 questions in order to pass the CLES examination.
  • Why Take the CLES Examination?

    Why Take the CLES Examination?The Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI) is the primary source for information on medical instrumentation and technology, including providing national and international standards. Under the direction of the International Certification Commission (ICC) and the United States Certification Commission (USCC), the Board of Examiners for Biomedical Equipment Technicians maintains several certification programs, one of which is the certification for laboratory equipment specialists (CLES). In addition to meeting specific academic and/or work experience requirements, an individual must successfully pass the CLES examination in order to earn CLES certification. Why is certification important? There are many valuable personal and professional benefits to obtaining certification.

    From a professional standpoint, passing the CLES examination and becoming certified may be required for specific jobs in the biomedical field. Even if certification is not required, by preparing for and successfully passing the CLES examination, individuals demonstrate their knowledge as it relates to the operation, the relevant physiological principles, and the safe application of the various types of biomedical equipment – knowledge that is extremely important in a world of ever-changing and advancing technologies. Supervisors, co-workers, and others in the healthcare industry will know that a certified individual is competent and qualified, and possesses the knowledge to ensure the healthcare environment in which they work is safe and reliable. Certification is indicative of someone who is motivated to maintain the latest job-related skills and of someone who takes pride in what they do.

    Another benefit to passing the CLES examination and obtaining certification is that the professional will enjoy increased opportunities for employment and greater earnings potential. Employers know that CLES certification is a standard of competence, and they recognize that an individual who is sufficiently motivated to study and take the CLES examination will likely be equally motivated to do well on the job.

    Employers are likely to demonstrate a hiring preference for job applicants who possess certification or promote an employee who is already certified. In addition, salary surveys indicate that biomedical equipment specialists who are CLES-certified can command a higher salary than their non-certified counterparts.

    AAMI offers a membership discount for those CLES professionals who have just obtained certification. The individual membership rate to join AAMI is normally $995; newly-certified individuals can join AAMI for $765, which represents a substantial savings. By joining AAMI, the CLES individual gains a wealth of additional professional benefits including networking support and career enhancement options, AAMI news, updates, and professional journals, discounts on AAMI items and activities, opportunities to participate in standards development, and much more.

    Once the individual has passed the CLES examination and earned certification, in order to maintain certification they must meet specific criteria that allows them to renew it every three years without having to re-take the CLES examination. Renewal is important, as it requires the CLES individual to maintain the professional standards established when they first obtained certification. Renewal of the CLES certification requires attending educational meetings and conferences and participating in professional organizations in order to gain the requisite amount of activity credits or points. The individual must maintain a Continuing Practice Journal in which they document their professional activities over the three-year period, and also pay a certification renewal fee.

    By studying and working hard, earning CLES certification from the ICC and meeting the necessary renewal requirements every three years is vitally important for anyone who wants to distinguish themselves in the biomedical field. Professionals who have worked hard to pass the CLES and obtain certification have taken a key step toward ensuring themselves and others that they possess the skills and knowledge in order to perform their job in a competent manner.

    CLES Examination Application Procedure

    The Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI) is the primary source for the healthcare industry, its related professions, and the government for information on medical instrumentation and technology, including national and international standards. Under the direction of the International Certification Commission (ICC) and the United States Certification Commission (USCC), the Board of Examiners for Biomedical Equipment Technicians maintains several certification programs, one of which is the certification for laboratory equipment specialists. Candidates for this certification must meet certain eligibility requirements, including successfully passing the Certified Laboratory Equipment Specialist (CLES) examination. Individuals interested in taking the CLES examination must adhere to the ICC’s application and eligibility requirements.

    The Professional Testing Corporation (PTC) administers the CLES examination at specific test centers located throughout the United States. An examination application form can be obtained by calling PTC or by visiting their website: www.PTCNY.com. Applications are also available on the AAMI website: www.aami.org. The examination is offered three times a year: once in the spring, once in the fall, and again in conjunction with the date of the ICC’s annual conference. Applicants must adhere to the deadline for submitting an application to take the examination. If the applicant lives more than 250 miles from one of the established PTC test centers, by submitting a written request for a Special Test Center location at least eight weeks prior to the examination date, it may be possible to take the test at an alternate location. There is an additional fee of $100 that applies in this scenario. The applicant will indicate the preferred test date and location in Part I of the application.

    Applicants must complete Parts I and II of the application form prior to signing and dating it. Part II of the application requires the applicant to provide their personal and employment data, including their education and work experience. Those individuals who are applying to take the CLES certification examination must also provide additional information in Section C of Part II of the application form. For each specialty area they designate on the Work Experience section of the form, they must also include the percentage of time spent employed in each area. In Section E of Part II of the form the applicant must indicate if they are applying and taking the CLES examination in order to receive full CLES certification or candidacy for the certification.

    In all cases, in addition to submitting the properly completed and signed form, the applicant must also include the following documentation with their application as substantiation of their eligibility: a copy of their diploma if they are claiming eligibility based on either an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree; a copy of their military diploma if they are claiming eligibility based on completion of a U.S. military biomedical program; an official college transcript (applicable to international applicants); and the required fees. Whether the applicant is applying to take the examination to receive full certification status or candidate status, the application fee is $315 which can be paid by check or credit card. If payment is not included along with the application, the application will not be processed.

    Examination applicants requiring special accommodations must submit a Request for Special Accommodations Form at the same time they submit their application and fees. Applicants who, for religious reasons, are unable to take the examination on a Saturday, must submit satisfactory evidence to that effect. Both religious and special needs requests must be received by ICC at least eight weeks prior to the examination date.

    All applications will be reviewed and notices sent to applicants to advise them if they are eligible to take the examination, in which case they will receive registration confirmation, or if they are ineligible to take the examination, in which case the application and fees previously submitted will be returned to the applicant along with a notice advising of their ineligibility

    CLES Examination Day Logistics

    CLES Examination Day LogisticsIndividuals who are applying for the designation of Certified Laboratory Equipment Specialist (CLES) must satisfactorily pass the CLES examination that is administered at one of the Professional Testing Corporation’s (PTC) test centers. If the applicant received a notice of examination eligibility from the International Certification Commission (ICC), the applicant is then registered to take the CLES examination on the date specified. There are specific criteria to which the applicant must adhere both prior to and on the day of the examination.

    Approximately three weeks before the date of the examination, PTC sends applicants an Admission Notice that provides examinees with confirmation of their assigned examination as well as the address of the PTC test center where the examination will be held. Applicants must bring their Admission Notice to the test center or they will not be allowed to enter. Applicants must also bring a current, valid, government-issued form of photograph identification, such as a driver’s license or passport. Applicants should contact the PTC if they have not received their Admission Notice at least ten days prior to the scheduled examination date.

    Applicants should bring several Number 2 pencils with them to the test center. They are not, however, permitted to bring programmable calculators, books, or any other type of reference materials in with them. They should ensure that all electronic devices such as cellular telephones, blackberries, blue tooth devices, cameras, IPODs, or MP3 players are turned off. It is important for applicants to listen to all instructions carefully and read directions closely; once the test begins, they will not be allowed to ask any questions concerning the content of the examination. PTC will consider applicants who do not comply with the testing rules as cheating; these applicants will need to leave the examination room, forfeiting their test fee and not being allowed to apply for testing again for a six-month period.

    The CLES examination is comprised of 165 multiple choice questions. The applicant is allowed up to four hours to complete all questions. On examination day, all PTC test centers adhere to the same schedule: Examinees report to the test center at 8:30 a.m.; the examination begins at 9:00 a.m.; the examination ends at 1:00 p.m. In order to pass the certification examination, applicants must score a minimum of 116 answers correctly.

    Approximately six weeks after the date of the examination, PTC will mail notification to applicants of their score. The results will be both a total overall composite score as well as a score for each of the five subject areas included in the examination. In the event the applicant has passed the examination, ICC will send them a packet as well. If the applicant had taken the examination in order to receive full CLES certification, the packet they receive from ICC will contain certification information. If the applicant had passed the examination on the path to obtaining candidacy status, ICC will send the candidate a congratulatory letter, which serves as notice of their in-training status if they need to show substantiation for any reason.

    If an applicant chooses to not take the examination, they may receive a refund of 50% of the application fee by submitting a request to the ICC in writing no more than 30 days after the original test date. Applicants can also request to be rescheduled to a different examination date if they are unable to take the examination on the originally scheduled date. They must submit their request to reschedule the examination within 14 days of the date of the original examination, and also pay a $100 non-refundable rescheduling fee. Applicants should make their examination plans keeping in mind that they can reschedule an examination only one time, if necessary.

    CLES Examination Study Strategies

    The Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI) is the primary source for the healthcare industry, its related professions, and the government for information on medical instrumentation and technology. Individuals who work in the field of clinical laboratory equipment can obtain the designation of Certified Laboratory Equipment Specialist (CLES). In order to obtain this professional designation, however, candidates must meet specific eligibility requirements, including successfully passing the Certified Laboratory Equipment Specialist examination.

    The CLES examination is offered three times a year: in May, November, and at a special testing session that coincides with AAMI’s annual conference. Implementing an effective preparation strategy will be the key to an examinee’s success, including allowing several months of time to sufficiently study and apply for the examination.

    The examination is comprised of 165 multiple choice questions; examinees must obtain a minimum of 116 correct responses in order to pass the test. Applicants should first understand that the CLES examination is divided into six different content areas. Each area carries a different weight toward the overall examination score. Therefore, by understanding the respective weight of each subject area, applicants can focus their studies accordingly.
    CLES examination applicants should also review and understand the topics that are included under each main content area. In addition to understanding bodily systems and organs as part of human anatomy and physiology, applicants should also understand the various types of laboratory equipment used in treating illness and disease that can occur in human organs, systems, and blood. They should understand relevant terminology, including how each piece of laboratory equipment functions and how to trouble shoot in the event of equipment failure. Understanding safety and routine procedural applications is also important.

    Individuals preparing for the CLES examination should designate a specific study time on a daily or weekly basis, thereby establishing a study routine that becomes part of their normal schedule. They should prioritize how and what they will study, spending time on those areas that carry the most weight in the examination score as well as those areas where they feel the weakest. The study area should be well-lit and comfortable, but free of distractions.

    There are many study aids and resources available, ranging from preparation courses to books to study groups. Some aids provide sample test questions that are representative of those on the actual CLES examination. Applicants will not need to be concerned with memorizing complex formulas; a sheet listing all the formulas is provided along with the examination. Examinees must, however, know how to properly apply a specific formula for solving a particular problem or equation. For this reason, it is important to practice solving problems that involve the use of formulas as part the examination preparation, for example problems that require a conversion from Fahrenheit to Celsius.
    Examinees will likely encounter examination questions to which they will not know the answer. Because the question format is multiple-choice, it is wise to narrow down possible responses by process of elimination. This way there will probably be just two possible correct responses remaining from which to choose.

    CLES test questions are developed and reviewed at least three times for content, job relevance, and accuracy prior to appearing on an examination. Laboratory equipment specialists who are the most experienced and prepared will do the best on the examination.