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Are you planning to apply for PHM training at public health laboratories?

Click HERE to download training information and requirement for each laboratory.

Public Health Microbiologist Training

ASK our trainees

"Having worked as a CLS in microbiology for the past five years at a clinical lab, I’m going through the Public Health Microbiologist training to become a well-rounded microbiologist. I have enjoyed the training tremendously, especially for subjects that my previous CLS training didn’t cover much in depth."

- Cathy Yang

PHM Trainee, Class of 2019

Los Angeles County PHL

Are you planning to apply for PHM training at public health laboratories?


Click HERE to download training information and requirement for each laboratory.

What is a California certified Public Health Microbiologist?


California Certified Public Health Microbiologists (PHM’s) are professional laboratorians who specialize in detecting, isolating, and identifying the microorganisms that are associated with infectious and communicable diseases. In a public health laboratory, PHM’s perform analyses on specimens from humans, as well as from water supplies, food and the environment. They provide laboratory support for the surveillance, control and prevention of communicable diseases and other health hazards in the community.


What are the requirements to become a Public Health Microbiologist?

Academic requirements:

  1. Bachelors or higher degree in medical or public health microbiology from an accredited college or university.

  2. Bachelors degree in a biological, chemical, physical or laboratory science may be considered equivalent if the transcript shows completion of 24 semester units (or equivalent quarter units) in the following subjects: microbiology, cellular or molecular biology, chemistry, biochemistry,    genetics, physics, microtechnique, instrumentation, epidemiology, or other related courses. 


Required course information:

  1. The 24 semester units must include a minimum of 6 semester units in a microbiology, molecular microbiology, or bacteriology course that includes instruction in the causative organisms, principles and practices of infectious disease, and infection control.  A course in medical microbiology or pathogenic bacteriology would provide this instruction, although such topics may be included within another course.

  2. Courses in microbiology (bacteriology, mycology, parasitology, virology, immunology, and serology) should include a laboratory component.

  3. Related courses which may be acceptable include: Bacterial or Microbial Physiology, Bacterial Diversity, Bacterial Pathogenesis, Bacteriology, Mycology, Parasitology, Virology, Genetics, Microbial Genetics, Immunogenetics, Cell  Biology,         Molecular  Biology,  Immunology,  Cellular Immunology, Food Microbiology, Public Health Microbiology, Recombinant DNA Microbiology, Epidemiology, Infectious Diseases, Statistics, Biostatistics, Epidemiology, Bioinformatics, Biotechnology,             Biosystemics, Microscopy, Electron Microscopy, Tissue Culture, Laboratory Techniques, Laboratory Mathematics, Environmental Microbiology, Soil Microbiology, Hematology, Immunohematology

What are the training and examination requirements to become a Public Health Microbiologist?

  1. Obtain approval to train from California Department of Public Health Laboratory Field Services (LFS) before beginning training in a State or local Public Health Laboratory

  2. LFS approved PHM trainees must undergo 6 months of training in an approved State or local Public Health laboratory

  3. Training is rigorous and comprehensive, consisting of didactic and practical instruction covering the body of knowledge of public health laboratory science.

  4. Individuals with prior laboratory experience, including Clinical Laboratory Scientists may qualify for a modified training program based on approval from LFS and the Public Health Laboratory Director overseeing their PHM training.   

  5. Upon successful completion of the 6-month training program* you will be approved to sit for the Public Health Microbiologist Certification exam administered by the American Association of Bioanalysts (AAB).  A passing score on the examination is required to be eligible to obtain Public Health Microbiologist Certification.

  6. AAB exams for PHM Certification are typically offered twice a year.

  7. *Individuals with relevant laboratory work experience may qualify for a reduced training period at the discretion of both LFS and the PHL Director overseeing training.

How do I become an LFS approved PHM trainee?

Register online and apply for training by creating a PERL account on the LFS website:


  1. Click on “Continue to this site” when the “You are now leaving CDPH site” pop-up appears

  2. You will be redirected to the following site:

  3. Fill in all required fields on the “Create a user account screen

    1. Once you have successfully created a log-in and password, follow the prompts to provide the required information until you reach the “Certificates, Licenses, Permits and Registrations” screen

    2. Under the “Apply, Renew or Update Application” area select the “Clinical and Public Health Laboratory Professionals” link

    3. Start the 8-step application process

      • Under License heading select “Apply for a license”

      • Reverify demographics information

        • Ensure correct email address/contact information is entered

        • Fill out conviction details information

        • Select “Proceed”

      • Select “Trainee box” and “Next”

      • Select “PHM Trainee” and “Next”

        • You can review prerequisite requirements at this step or under the academic requirements section of this instruction manual

    4. Enter all relevant education, training, or experience details then select “Next”

    5. Upload any required documents (if you have an old approval letter, upload that document at this step) then select “Next”

    6. Read the Disclosure page and select “Next”

    7. Complete the remaining steps

      • Send transcripts to address listed on screen

      • Get foreign transcripts evaluated

      • Select “Next”

    8. Read and sign application attestation page electronically then select “Accept” and “Submit”

  4. Application is complete note will appear

  5. On home screen of your account you can check the status of your application under pending or active licenses

If you have issues with the application process, please contact:


                        ·     LFS contacts: Nema Lintag and Dolapo Afolayan

·  Contact technical support:


What do I do once I have become approved to train by LFS?

Once LFS has certified that you meet all of the requirements to become a PHM trainee, you will then need to contact local public health laboratories that participate in the PHM training program to inquire about available training positions.  A list of public health laboratories that participate in the training program can be found on the California Association of Public Health Laboratory Directors (CAPHLD) website (

Requirements for applying for trainee positions, including the interview and selection process varies from laboratory to laboratory.


The training program usually starts at the beginning of January and runs through the end, of June so applications for interviews usually needs to completed by September or October of the year prior to training.

Who can I contact if I have more questions regarding the PHM training program?

If you have further questions regarding PHM training, please email the PHM training committee at  Emails are not checked daily, so please be patient in waiting for a response to your question(s).

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