Phlebotomy Careers: Job and Salary Facts

Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue in phlebotomy. Read on to learn more about career options along with salary and education information. Schools offering Clinical Laboratory Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Would I Do in a Phlebotomy Career?

If you want to pursue a career in phlebotomy, you have three main options. First, you could become a phlebotomist, where your job would be to draw blood from patients for diagnostic purposes, or from donors who wish to contribute to blood banks. People skills are beneficial in this career, as you may need to calm or distract nervous patients; phlebotomists also need to accurately label blood samples and add them to a database. The other options are related: medical laboratory technicians and medical laboratory technologists. These workers run analytical tests on blood samples. Doctors can use the information to diagnose medical conditions and develop treatment plans, while blood banks use it to determine the donor's blood type and make sure he or she is healthy. Medical laboratory technicians and technologists may also prepare donated blood samples for future transfusions. It is important to note that technologist positions require more schooling; technologists may also have supervisory responsibilities within the lab.

The following chart provides an overview about careers in phlebotomy.

Phlebotomy TechnicianBlood Bank Laboratory TechnicianHematology Technologist
Education Required Postsecondary diploma or certificate Certificate or associate's degree Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Phlebotomy Clinical laboratory science Medical laboratory technology
Key Responsibilities Draw blood from patient's veins according to doctor's orders; verify patient identity and maintain patient records; accurately label blood samples; maintain and assemble blood drawing equipment Collect blood from donors; separate blood components; test blood for type; prepare blood for transfusions Perform complex analysis of blood samples; Use microscopes and computerized equipment; log data from tests
Licensure or Certification Employers generally prefer employees who have professional certification Some states require technicians to be licensed; professional certification is available Some states require technologists to be licensed; professional certification is available
Job Growth (2014-2024) 25%* 18% for all medical and clinical laboratory technicians* 14% for all medical and clinical laboratory technologists*
Median Salary (2015) $31,630* $38,970 for all medical and clinical laboratory technicians* $60,520 for all medical and clinical laboratory technologists*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

What Jobs Are Available in Phlebotomy?

Phlebotomy is a branch of healthcare and medical technology that deals with the collection and analysis of blood samples from patients. You could work as a phlebotomy technician, also known as a phlebotomist, gathering blood with venipuncture and skin puncture techniques. Phlebotomists work closely with patients, so you need a compassionate and calm manner. You could work as a blood bank specialist, collecting and storing blood for transfusions, or you could work as a hematology technologist, using laboratory equipment to check for abnormalities in patients' blood.

What Education Do I Need?

There are certificate, associate's degree and bachelor's degree programs available for students interested in entering the field of phlebotomy. The National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS) accredits phlebotomy programs in which you would learn the techniques of blood collection and basics of safety procedures. If you are interested in blood bank technology, the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs accredits certificate and master's degree programs, some of which may require some previous education.

In order to work in a lab testing blood samples, you could enroll in a general medical sciences program where you would study many facets of clinical laboratory work, including hematology. You could also combine a bachelor's degree with a hematology program. The NAACLS also accredits medical laboratory science programs.

How Could I Advance My Career?

You may choose to seek a certification to demonstrate your professional ability, and there are multiple certifications available for personnel in the phlebotomy field. The American Society for Clinical Pathology's Board of Certification offers the Phlebotomy Technician, Blood Banking Technologist, Blood Banking Specialist, Hematology Technologist and Hematology Specialist certifications (www.ascp.org). You'll need to complete varied levels of education and work experience to obtain certification.

Generally, technicians are educated at the associate's degree level, technologists at the bachelor's level and specialists at the master's level, though in some cases your experience may fulfill the requirements for certain certifications. The American Society of Phlebotomy Technicians and the American Medical Technologists both offer a Phlebotomy Technician certification.

What Salary Could I Earn?

Though salaries vary by location and job title, the job prospects for positions in allied health and medical laboratory sciences are good. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in May 2015 that medical and clinical laboratory technicians, a group that includes those working in phlebotomy and hematology, earned a median salary of $38,970. Technologists earned a higher median salary of $60,520 (www.bls.gov).

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Instead of working in phlebotomy, you could pursue another technical support position within the medical field. For instance, you might consider becoming a diagnostic medical sonographer, where you would use ultrasound equipment to create images of internal organs, which doctors can use to identify medical abnormalities and determine treatment plans. If you want to provide patient treatments, you be interested in a job as a radiation therapist, a job in which you would use a linear accelerator machine to administer radiation, for the purpose of combating diseases such as cancer. This job usually requires at least an associate's degree.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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