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How to Become a Phlebotomist

What Does a Phlebotomist Do?

phlebotomist collecting blood

No one loves a needle stick, but the skillful touch of a good phlebotomist can make the process quicker and a lot less painful. Phlebotomists, also known as phlebotomy technicians, specialize in the crucial duty of drawing blood samples from patients for use in medical testing, transfusions, research, and donation. Many phlebotomists say that it’s their interactions with patients that make the job so fulfilling. They enjoy helping people through distress and providing comfortable testing and donation experiences.

Job duties of a phlebotomist include:

  • Prepare and arrange blood drawing trays
  • Ensure that phlebotomy equipment is sterile and safe
  • Take patient vital signs
  • Verify patient identity
  • Explain the procedure to patients and help ease their nervousness and distress
  • Draw blood using the appropriate technique
  • Enter patient, specimen, and insurance information into the computer
  • Label samples accurately and prepare them for processing
  • Transport samples to the lab
  • Dispose of needles and medical waste safely
  • Care for patients who have an adverse reaction to the blood draw (such as fainting)

A phlebotomist’s most important job is to protect patients’ health and safety. Failing to verify a person’s identity or mislabeling a blood sample can lead to serious health consequences. It’s also extremely important that the phlebotomist choose an appropriate site for the puncture as well as the best equipment for the job.

Phlebotomists are important players on the healthcare team who work closely with physicians, technicians, nurses and other professionals to care for patients.

Workplace Details

Most phlebotomists - about 40 percent - work in hospitals. Commercial medical laboratories, physicians’ offices, and blood banks also employ many phlebotomists. “Mobile” phlebotomists (those who travel to different labs and offices as needed) are becoming more common.

Most phlebotomists work full time. Hours are generally regular, but those in hospitals may cover some evening, weekend, and holiday shifts.

Phlebotomy careers require a great deal of human interaction. A phlebotomist may be the only person the patient meets when visiting the lab, so it’s important to provide great service. Phlebotomists are also in near-constant contact with physicians, nurses and lab technicians.

Salary and Job Outlook

State
Average Wage
California
$41360
Texas
$31480
Florida
$30100
New York
$37910
North Carolina
$29930

Hover over any state to explore local income and job growth data.

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ALABAMA

Median Salary: 
$27,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $20,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $36,900

2014-2024 Job Growth: 21%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 70

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Birmingham$21,920$28,590$37,340
Huntsville$20,560$27,220$36,750

ALASKA

Median Salary: 
$35,900
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $26,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $48,800

2014-2024 Job Growth: 14%
Projected Annual Job Openings: Fewer than 10

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Anchorage$25,630$34,960$47,860

ARIZONA

Median Salary: 
$29,500
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $23,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $38,000

2014-2024 Job Growth: 27%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 130

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Phoenix$23,000$29,670$38,000
Tuscon$24,380$29,110$37,580

ARKANSAS

Median Salary: 
$27,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $19,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $36,300

2014-2024 Job Growth: 29%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 50

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Little Rock$19,680$26,660$35,490
Fort Smith$17,620$26,750$36,840

CALIFORNIA

Median Salary: 
$37,500
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $27,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $53,600

2014-2024 Job Growth: 24%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 580

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Los Angeles$26,600$36,740$53,110
San Francisco Bay$27,770$41,170$60,260
San Diego$28,130$36,890$50,020
Sacramento$27,700$41,510$58,830

COLORADO

Median Salary: 
$34,600
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $26,700
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $47,000

2014-2024 Job Growth: 38%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 100

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Denver$27,570$35,390$47,680
Colorado Springs$26,170$33,830$42,400

CONNECTICUT

Median Salary: 
$37,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $28,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $48,400

2014-2024 Job Growth: 9%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 50

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Hartford$27,370$35,640$46,390
Bridgeport$31,690$40,540$49,840
New Haven$31,600$37,680$53,930

DELAWARE

Median Salary: 
$35,400
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $27,300
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $47,000

2014-2024 Job Growth: 19%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 20

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Wilmington$28,530$35,790$47,000

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

Median Salary: 
$38,700
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $31,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $49,600

2014-2024 Job Growth: 21%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 10

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Washington DC$26,960$36,380$49,050

FLORIDA

Median Salary: 
$28,600
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $21,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $38,500

2014-2024 Job Growth: 32%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 380

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Miami$22,410$28,550$38,710
Orlando$21,180$28,370$37,510
Tampa$21,900$29,220$39,360
Jacksonville$21,980$28,970$39,230

GEORGIA

Median Salary: 
$29,600
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $21,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $39,000

2014-2024 Job Growth: 29%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 170

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Atlanta$23,670$32,010$42,700
Augusta$21,630$28,420$39,330

HAWAII

Median Salary: 
$33,800
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $25,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $45,800

2014-2024 Job Growth: 17%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 20

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Honolulu$25,460$33,590$46,130

IDAHO

Median Salary: 
$29,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $23,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $37,600

2014-2024 Job Growth: 23%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 230

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Boise$23,160$28,870$36,700

ILLINOIS

Median Salary: 
$34,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $24,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $46,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 18%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 180

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Chicago$25,540$35,260$46,400
Rockford$24,560$31,750$44,430

INDIANA

Median Salary: 
$29,100
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $22,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $39,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 26%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 120

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Indianapolis$22,800$29,210$38,550

IOWA

Median Salary: 
$28,500
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $22,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $37,700

2014-2024 Job Growth: 23%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 20

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Des Moines$21,860$28,410$39,720
Cedar Rapids$21,490$27,360$35,030

KANSAS

Median Salary: 
$28,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $21,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $38,000

2014-2024 Job Growth: 13%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 20

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Wichita$21,910$29,100$37,920
Kansas City$23,140$31,070$38,900

KENTUCKY

Median Salary: 
$28,400
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $20,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $39,100

2014-2024 Job Growth: 36%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 120

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Louisville$22,230$33,260$43,970
Lexington$19,640$26,880$37,600

LOUISIANA

Median Salary: 
$27,900
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $19,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $38,900

2014-2024 Job Growth: 17%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 70

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
New Orleans$20,420$30,450$40,630
Baton Rouge$20,390$27,740$37,130
Lafayette$21,300$28,700$37,360

MAINE

Median Salary: 
$29,800
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $22,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $37,800

2014-2024 Job Growth: 10%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 20

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Portland$24,630$33,550$38,730
Lewiston$22,310$27,980$34,500

MARYLAND

Median Salary: 
$36,800
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $29,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $48,000

2014-2024 Job Growth: 24%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 110

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Baltimore$31,280$36,700$47,350
Frederick$31,270$39,450$49,480

MASSACHUSETTS

Median Salary: 
$37,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $29,300
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $48,700

2014-2024 Job Growth: 8%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 80

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Boston$30,840$37,640$50,270
Worcester$33,040$41,880$50,700
Springfield$30,980$36,410$46,380

MICHIGAN

Median Salary: 
$29,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $22,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $38,500

2014-2024 Job Growth: 15%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 90

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Detroit$20,810$29,950$37,810
Grand Rapids$22,520$28,600$37,270

MINNESOTA

Median Salary: 
$34,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $26,300
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $47,500

2014-2024 Job Growth: 20%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 80

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Minneapolis - St. Paul$26,300$33,770$48,790

MISSISSIPPI

Median Salary: 
$24,900
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $19,700
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $36,000

2014-2024 Job Growth: 17%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 30

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Jackson$21,190$26,970$33,460
Gulfport$21,240$28,550$38,590

MISSOURI

Median Salary: 
$28,100
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $20,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $38,000

2014-2024 Job Growth: 24%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 90

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
St. Louis$23,460$31,670$41,710
Kansas City$23,140$31,070$38,900

MONTANA

Median Salary: 
$28,600
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $21,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $44,800

Job Growth Data Not Available

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Billings$21,990$28,100$37,280
Missoula$21,910$35,180$59,560

NEBRASKA

Median Salary: 
$28,800
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $22,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $39,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 16%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 30

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Omaha$25,540$30,030$47,990
Lincoln$24,360$29,000$37,560

NEVADA

Median Salary: 
$34,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $26,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $46,700

2014-2024 Job Growth: 30%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 40

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Las Vegas$26,180$34,230$46,670

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Median Salary: 
$34,400
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $26,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $46,500

2014-2024 Job Growth: 18%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 30

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Manchester$27,130$35,020$46,220
Nashua$28,750$35,980$45,830

NEW JERSEY

Median Salary: 
$35,400
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $27,400
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $46,800

2014-2024 Job Growth: 21%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 200

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Newark$28,500$36,340$47,400
Trenton$27,660$35,260$45,270

NEW MEXICO

Median Salary: 
$28,600
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $20,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $39,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 23%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 20

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Albuquerque$18,930$30,300$44,790

NEW YORK

Median Salary: 
$37,500
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $25,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $50,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 25%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 250

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
New York City$26,750$37,180$49,740
Buffalo$25,490$32,700$39,520
Rochester$25,480$32,750$48,140
Albany$25,770$33,120$42,950

NORTH CAROLINA

Median Salary: 
$28,500
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $21,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $37,700

2014-2024 Job Growth: 33%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 250

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Charlotte$22,910$29,400$37,610
Raleigh$26,230$32,930$39,240
Greensboro$24,770$29,680$39,420
Winston - Salem$22,550$29,730$38,330

NORTH DAKOTA

Median Salary: 
$26,700
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $20,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $36,000

2014-2024 Job Growth: 32%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 30

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Fargo$20,780$26,880$38,110
Bismarck$21,530$28,500$37,450

OHIO

Median Salary: 
$30,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $23,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $38,500

2014-2024 Job Growth: 18%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 190

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Cleveland$25,580$31,520$39,010
Columbus$21,490$27,990$37,890
Cincinnati$26,060$33,030$39,070
Dayton$23,100$29,970$38,800

OKLAHOMA

Median Salary: 
$29,100
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $21,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $38,600

2014-2024 Job Growth: 19%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 50

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Oklahoma City$22,890$31,260$39,610
Tulsa$22,410$28,620$37,210

OREGON

Median Salary: 
$35,400
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $26,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $46,400

2014-2024 Job Growth: 20%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 70

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Portland$28,020$37,180$47,600
Salem$28,070$36,700$47,090

PENNSYLVANIA

Median Salary: 
$30,900
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $24,300
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $42,500

2014-2024 Job Growth: 14%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 190

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Philadelphia$26,080$34,240$44,380
Pittsburgh$22,600$29,510$38,430
Harrisburg$26,900$35,280$55,200
Allentown$25,400$30,630$39,100

RHODE ISLAND

Median Salary: 
$36,700
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $27,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $48,400

2014-2024 Job Growth: 10%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 30

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Providence$27,550$36,540$48,340

SOUTH CAROLINA

Median Salary: 
$26,700
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $19,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $35,700

2014-2024 Job Growth: 18%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 50

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Greenville$21,630$27,970$36,890
Columbia$17,000$25,680$35,020
Charleston$25,240$29,620$38,050

SOUTH DAKOTA

Salary Data Not Available

2014-2024 Job Growth: 15%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 10

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Sioux Falls$20,840$25,270$32,610

TENNESSEE

Median Salary: 
$25,900
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $20,700
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $37,100

2014-2024 Job Growth: 36%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 160

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Nashville$20,810$24,700$36,710
Memphis$21,120$27,840$37,670
Knoxville$21,050$27,460$42,840
Chattanooga$21,210$27,380$36,690

TEXAS

Median Salary: 
$29,600
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $22,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $39,100

2014-2024 Job Growth: 34%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 470

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Dallas - Ft. Worth$24,730$30,510$39,400
Houston$25,190$31,050$42,280
San Antonio$21,410$30,030$46,490
Austin$22,110$30,190$38,550

UTAH

Median Salary: 
$26,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $21,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $34,800

2014-2024 Job Growth: 41%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 70

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Salt Lake City$21,240$27,130$36,240
Ogden$20,920$25,630$33,040

VERMONT

Median Salary: 
$32,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $25,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $40,300

2014-2024 Job Growth: 12%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 10

VIRGINIA

Median Salary: 
$30,800
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $22,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $42,900

2014-2024 Job Growth: 34%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 190

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Virginia Beach$22,740$31,260$39,760
Richmond$21,470$29,130$38,990

WASHINGTON

Median Salary: 
$35,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $26,700
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $46,500

2014-2024 Job Growth: 25%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 110

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Seattle$27,400$35,460$46,820
Spokane$23,500$30,120$42,120

WEST VIRGINIA

Median Salary: 
$28,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $20,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $37,700

2014-2024 Job Growth: 10%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 30

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Huntington$21,460$28,210$38,740

WISCONSIN

Median Salary: 
$32,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $25,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $44,800

2014-2024 Job Growth: 8%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 70

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Madison$25,460$35,300$49,410

WYOMING

Median Salary: 
$30,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $24,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $39,800

2014-2024 Job Growth: 26%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 10

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Cheyenne$25,320$29,320$38,020
Casper$22,170$31,860$38,930

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for all phlebotomists is $31,630, or $15.21 per hour. The highest-paid ten percent earn a median $45,190, and the lowest paid ten percent earn a median $22,850.

Work setting has a significant impact on earnings. The highest-paid phlebotomists work for insurance carriers and specialty hospitals (although there are relatively few positions in these industries), while those in general hospitals tend to earn less.

Phlebotomist wages also vary significantly by geographic area. Pay is highest on the West Coast, in Alaska, and on the East Coast between New Hampshire and Virginia.

Phlebotomists should be in excellent demand for the next decade. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment is expected to grow by 25 percent between 2014 and 2024.

One reason for this trend is that more people are seeking health care services. The Affordable Care Act expanded insurance coverage, giving more people access to doctors and hospitals. Growth of the elderly population and growth in the number of people with chronic conditions are also driving demand for services.

One of the best ways that phlebotomists can increase their job prospects is to obtain voluntary certification.

The websites of local hospitals and labs often list open phlebotomist positions. Other job-hunting resources include the ASCP job board and the Phlebotek website.

Compare Salaries by City

New York City NY Median Pay

$37180 Per Year

$17.87 Per Hour

Los Angeles CA Median Pay

$36740 Per Year

$17.66 Per Hour

Steps to Become a Phlebotomist

1

Earn a high school diploma.

About a third of phlebotomists enter the job with a high school diploma and train on the job. But the rest of them follow up their high school education with additional coursework before becoming a phlebotomist.

2

Complete a phlebotomist training program.

The majority of phlebotomists complete a post-secondary certificate program through a community college, vocational school, or technical school. These programs typically take less than a year to complete and have both classroom and clinical components. Subjects covered include anatomy, physiology, medical terminology, and practical skills. Students practice blood draws on mannequins before trying them on real patients.

Show Me Schools »

Phlebotomy education is not well regulated in most states, so it’s important to be discerning when choosing a program. To find the best training:

  • Ask local employers who provide high-quality programs in your area
  • Consult the websites of reputable certification organizations (see the certification section below for more information)
  • Look for a program that follows the quality standards of the Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute (CLSI)
  • The clinical experience should take place in a government-certified laboratory (look for the acronym CLIA)

3

Become certified in your state.

Phlebotomy certification is mandatory in California, Louisiana, and Nevada, and is strongly preferred by employers across the country. Certification is offered by many organizations, but not all are credible or recognized by employers.

If your state has mandatory certification, it will maintain a list of recognized certification organizations. For more information, click the state links above.

For candidates seeking voluntary certification, the Center for Phlebotomy Education recommends the following organizations:

Certification varies by organization, but most require completion of an accredited training program or equivalent work experience with an accredited laboratory. Candidates must also pass a knowledge exam (and, in the case of the American Certification Agency, an additional practical exam).

4

Maintain certification.

Certified phlebotomists must participate in regular continuing education to maintain their credentials.

5

Consider opportunities for advancement.

Phlebotomists with several years experience may move into supervisory roles. Those with an associate or bachelor’s degree may be qualified to instruct within phlebotomy training programs. Phlebotomy can also serve as a springboard to other health careers, including nursing, medicine, or laboratory science.

Explore Degree Paths

Many phlebotomists enter the profession with no formal education in phlebotomy and get their training on the job. The military also trains recruits in phlebotomy.

CERTIFICATE PROGRAM

3 months-1 year

Many employers prefer to hire phlebotomists who have completed a certificate program in phlebotomy. Having some formal education makes it easier to change employers, move to new states, and pursue formal licensure and certification. (Note that holding a phlebotomy certificate is not the same as certification, which requires you to meet additional requirements and pass an exam.)

Community colleges, technical schools, teaching hospitals and health systems all offer phlebotomy programs. It’s also possible to obtain a phlebotomy certificate in the course of earning an associate degree (for example, as part of some medical laboratory technology programs).

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Be cautious and do your homework when choosing a training program. The phlebotomy education field is poorly regulated in many states. Some tips:

  • The National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS), a respected accrediting organization, maintains a searchable list of approved phlebotomy programs on its website. Graduating from NAACLS often makes it easier to get certified. However, it’s worth noting that there are relatively few NAACLS-approved programs.
  • If you plan to pursue state licensure and/or national certification, check the eligibility requirements for your desired credentials. Will you need to complete a minimum number of educational hours and supervised venipunctures? Ensure that your chosen educational program will provide these.
  • Phlebotomy employers can also be a great resource when evaluating certificate programs. Ask which programs in your area are respected and produce well-qualified graduates.
  • Finally, your certificate program should include a phlebotomy practicum. Verify that your clinical experience will be completed in a government-certified lab that meets the standards of the Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute (CLSI).

Subjects you’re likely cover during your phlebotomy training include:

Collection techniques

Learn methods for obtaining blood samples from a variety of clinical situations and patient types (adult, pediatric).

Laboratory procedures

Covers infection prevention, patient identification, safety, laws and regulations, and quality control.

Laboratory technology

Introduces to the science of testing human blood, including chemistry, serology, and microbiology.

Office management

Learn how to register patients, document services for billing, and track samples.

Psychology

The study of human behavior, thought, and emotion. Phlebotomists must get comfortable dealing with stressful situations and fearful patients.

Keys to Success as a Phlebotomist

Necessary Skills and Qualities

People skills

Phlebotomists must be perceptive of patients’ feelings and able to put them at ease. They must also be comfortable working in teams and with people from many other professions.

Communication

Strong speaking and listening skills are necessary in order to identify the patient, gain consent and explain the procedure.

Critical thinking

To draw blood safely, the phlebotomist must choose an appropriate puncture site as well as the best type and size of equipment.

Attention to detail

Testing mistakes can lead to significant distress and serious adverse outcomes. For this reason, phlebotomists must be exacting and accurate when handling, labeling, and processing blood specimens.

Coordination and dexterity

Drawing blood requires sharp eyes, steady hands and skilled fingers. Having good technique makes the procedure more comfortable for the patient.

Workplace safety

Phlebotomists are at increased risk for blood-borne infections like HIV and hepatitis. It’s extremely important that they follow safety procedures, wear protective clothing and dispose of sharps and medical waste safely.

Additional Credentials

For working phlebotomists who have some experience in a specialized or related field, ASCP offers a few advanced certifications:

  • Donor phlebotomy technician - collects blood that may ultimately be used in transfusions or stored at a blood bank
  • Medical laboratory assistant - assists with a variety of lab tests and functions

Candidates must meet education and work experience requirements and pass a knowledge exam.

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