How Can I Become a Certified Phlebotomy Technician?

Explore the career requirements for phlebotomy technicians. Get the facts about job duties, education and licensure requirements to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Clinical Laboratory Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Phlebotomy Technician?

A phlebotomy technician, often called a phlebotomist, is a healthcare worker who specializes in collecting blood samples from patients. Many phlebotomists work in hospitals, where they take patients' blood so that it can be analyzed by doctors for diagnostic purposes, or by medical researchers who are studying particular diseases and conditions. Phlebotomists can also work at blood banks, where they draw blood from blood donors. After collecting the blood, phlebotomists are responsible for labeling it properly and sending it to the appropriate laboratory for testing and processing.

The following chart gives you an overview about becoming a phlebotomy technician.

Degree Required Postsecondary certificate or diploma
Education Field of Study Phlebotomy
Key Responsibilities Collect blood samples from patient veins; verify patient identity and accurately mark samples taken; assemble and maintain blood drawing equipment; enter information into patient records
Certification Three states require phlebotomists to be certified; certification may be preferred by employers in other states
Job Growth (2014-2024) 25%*
Median Salary (2015) $31,630*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Would I Do as a Certified Phlebotomy Technician?

Phlebotomy technicians, also known as phlebotomists, work in the medical laboratory branch of healthcare. As a phlebotomy technician, you would draw blood and perform tests on blood samples from patients. While many medical technicians and technologists don't interact with patients, phlebotomists do and they need a courteous and compassionate manner when dealing with patients because some patients may be sick or nervous when they have their blood drawn. In the lab, you would label and store blood samples, and you may even perform some tests, such as blood typing. You could work in a hospital, doctor's office or medical laboratory.

What Education Do I Need?

A phlebotomy certificate is the minimum educational requirement to obtain a job as a phlebotomist in the U.S. Most phlebotomy certificate programs typically take less than a year to complete and will teach you the basics of anatomy and phlebotomy. In addition to taking didactic classes and labs, you will participate in some clinical work, practicing your venipuncture and skin puncture techniques. You will also learn proper safety precautions and appropriate bedside manner. Most programs are designed to prepare you to take a certification examination. Because some states may require you to be licensed or certified, you can search for a program accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences.

How Do I Become Certified?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, many employers prefer to hire laboratory technologists and technicians who hold a credential, such as certification (www.bls.gov). The American Society for Clinical Pathology offers the Board Certified Phlebotomy Technician credential, which you can earn if you have a high school diploma or GED and complete a phlebotomy training program or up to one year of work experience (www.ascp.org).

The American Medical Technologists has similar eligibility requirements, including graduation from an accredited phlebotomy program or up to 1,040 hours of work experience (www.americanmedtech.org). Some states may require you to be certified in order to work as a phlebotomist, and in some states a certification is equivalent to a license. Because requirements vary from state to state, you should check with your state's health board for specific requirements.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Instead of becoming a phlebotomist, you could get another technician position in the healthcare field, running tests for diagnostic purposes. For instance, you could become a diagnostic medical sonographer, where you would use ultrasound equipment to create images of internal body parts that doctors can use to diagnose diseases and develop treatment plans. You could also consider working as a cardiovascular technologist. In this job, you could run stress tests to evaluate patient's cardiovascular health or assist with invasive procedures like cardiovascular catheterization. For any of these technician jobs, you need to complete a postsecondary certificate program or earn an associate's degree.

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