How to Become a Phlebotomist in 5 Steps

Explore the career requirements for phlebotomists. Get the facts about education, salary, certification requirements and potential job growth 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 Does a Phlebotomist Do?

A phlebotomist is the person you see when the physician determines that blood test is a requirement for your examination, diagnosis or treatment. They are graduates of postsecondary phlebotomy programs who are trained to effectively draw blood from individuals for the purpose of assisting physicians and other medical professionals in their diagnostic duties. They are also responsible for the comfort of the patient during the procedure, the correct labeling of the blood sample and the recording of patient information into the database of the facility.

The following chart provides an overview about becoming a phlebotomist.

Degree Required Postsecondary certificate or diploma
Education Field of Study Phlebotomy
Job Duties Verify patient information; draw blood according to doctor's orders; label blood sample; assemble and maintain blood drawing equipment
Certification Professional certification may be preferred by employers
Job Growth (2014-2024) 25% increase*
Median Salary (2015) $31,630*

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

What Is Phlebotomy?

Phlebotomy is the practice of drawing blood from a patient's body. Phlebotomists usually work with blood banks, research centers, physicians' offices and laboratories. As a phlebotomist, you'll be a laboratory technician who'll draw blood for testing, research or donations. You'll sometimes fill many vials of blood, so you'll need to label vials and know which vials contain chemicals for each test.

Other job responsibilities may include taking patient histories, contacting insurance companies, transporting specimens, working with physicians and putting information into a computer. You'll also sterilize the lab and any equipment and practice safety procedures. Patients may have a fear of needles, so you'll calm them and explain the procedure as it happens.

Step 1: Research Career Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), phlebotomists were expected to see good job growth from 2014-2024. In fact, the projected numbers for that period were 28,100 additional job opportunities, or a 25% increase. While testing becomes more automated, phlebotomists shouldn't be concerned since large amounts of blood usually need to be drawn by a person. Phlebotomists saw a median annual salary of $31,630 in 2015, according to the BLS. Salary.com states that the median salary for phlebotomists was $32,170 in 2017.

Step 2: Finish High School

You must finish high school and have a diploma or GED in order to enter a phlebotomy-training program. While in high school, you may study biology, math, chemistry, health and computer science to prepare you for future training.

Step 3: Go to College

A few options are available to train you as a phlebotomy technician. Many community colleges offer certificate programs for phlebotomy. These programs teach you the basics of working in a laboratory, essential safety practices and the circulatory system. Associate degree programs in clinical laboratory technology are available through many community and technical colleges. You'll study hematology, anatomy, microbiology, immunology and urinalysis.

Step 4: Complete a Clinical

You may complete some of your practice during your training and education. Most programs, especially associate degree programs, require you to complete a clinical practicum with a laboratory. Likely, you'll need to complete a specific number of venipunctures for graduation. These venipunctures must be supervised and completed on real patients.

Step 5: Earn Phlebotomist Certification

Certification is helpful for career advancement, but careful research is necessary because reputable and disreputable organizations both claim to certify phlebotomists. One organization that certifies clinical lab technicians is the American Society for Clinical Pathology. They are the industry standard certifying organization.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

A medical transcriptionist is also known as a healthcare documentation specialist. This individual is responsible for the transcription of recorded notes, made by a physician or a related healthcare professional, to the written word. They may be responsible for the review, editing and interpretation of medical terminology and medical documents.

The duties of medical assistants can be either administrative or clinical or a combination of both, depending on the size of the facility that they work for. Some examples of duties include taking and recording patient histories and personal information, measuring vital signs, scheduling appointments and, where permitted by state law, administering injections or medications as directed by a supervising physician.

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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