How to Become a Phlebotomist?

Phlebotomists are medical professionals who deal with drawing blood, transfusions, blood donations and research. They are important components of any medical facility which requires blood samples for a multitude of diagnostic tests. The duties of a phlebotomist are defined by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics as follows:

  • “Draw blood from patients and blood donors
  • Talk with patients and donors to help them feel less nervous about having their blood drawn
  • Verify a patient’s or donor’s identity to ensure proper labeling of the blood
  • Label the drawn blood for testing or processing
  • Enter patient information into a database
  • Assemble and maintain medical instruments such as needles, test tubes, and blood vials
  • Keep work areas clean and sanitary”

Phlebotomist Salaries and Job Growth

Phlebotomists made an annual median pay of $34,480 per year in 2018, as per data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. The highest paying industry for phlebotomists was outpatient care centers, paying $39,420 in median wages in 2018. This was followed closely by medical and diagnostic laboratories with $36,060.
The number of jobs in the industry was 122,700 in 2016 and is expected to go up by 30,100 by 2026 – an impressive increase of 25%. This percentage change is greater than the 7% average for all other occupations and the 22% average for all other healthcare support organizations.
Hospitals, blood donor centers and diagnostic centers will continue to need phlebotomists. Analysis of blood is an important function in the medical sphere and this will drive the demand for phlebotomists in the future. The job outlook is the most positive for phlebotomists who are certified by reputable institutes.

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Which States are the Best for Phlebotomists?

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2018, California had the highest level of employment in this occupation with 12,190 people working. Texas was second with 9,210 persons followed by Florida with 8,250 persons, North Carolina with 6,290 persons and New York with 6,190 persons.
The top paying states for this occupation are listed in the table below:

State Annual Mean Wage
California $45,030
Alaska $42,290
District of Columbia $41,600
New York $40,630
Massachusetts $39,970

Steps to Become a Phlebotomist:

  1. Get a high school diploma or an equivalent degree

This is the minimum education required to enter the field of phlebotomy. A high school diploma is a pre-requisite to phlebotomy training schools.

  1. Complete a phlebotomy training course

Before you can begin working in the field, you will need to get a postsecondary non-degree award from a phlebotomy program. These training programs are available at community colleges, technical schools or vocational schools and typically take less than a year to complete. Before you can apply to a phlebotomy training program, you need to meet the minimum age requirement of 18 years. During these programs, students will be taught how to draw blood and how to interact with patients. Courses you may have to cover include equipment disposal, lab safety and possible legal issues.

  1. Become certified and licensed

Even though certification is not a requirement in most states, it is highly preferred by employers. In addition to that, you might be able to broaden your skill set with a certificate and get a better salary package than a non-certified phlebotomist.
The main certifying organizations for phlebotomists are as follows:

  • National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT)
  • American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP)
  • National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
  • National Phlebotomy Association (NPA)
  • American Medical Technologists (AMT)
  1. Find employment

With the rising demand for phlebotomists and other medical professionals, you might be approached by recruiters yourself. However, you are advised to remain active in your job search nonetheless. Start networking early and learn about the employment opportunities available. You may find employment in:

  • Local hospitals
  • Laboratories
  • Blood donation centers
  • Outpatient care centers
  • Physician’s offices

In addition to these, you may also become a mobile phlebotomist, working with emergency management services.

  1. Maintain certification

Even though getting into this field is relatively easy, phlebotomists still have to work hard to maintain their certification. Requirements for this vary from institution to institution, but you will have to complete a certain number of Continuing Education Credits through short courses in a period of two years.

Should You Become a Phlebotomist?

Before you decide to embark on this career path, it is important to ask yourself if you should become a phlebotomist. Here are a few reasons why you might consider a career in this field:

  1. Quick entry into the field

Getting into the medical field typically requires a 4-year long bachelor’s degree, a medical school degree and a residency program. So you are looking at an average of 12 years to get into medicine. Phlebotomy is the quicker way in. All you need is around one month for preparation and applications to schools, followed by 1-2 semesters of training.

  1. High job growth

With a 25% growth expected in the ten years (2016 to 2026), the demand for phlebotomists is not expected to go down anytime soon. The need for blood samples to diagnose and treat patients will always exist in all medical facilities, therefore phlebotomists will always have work.

  1. Choice of work place

Since phlebotomists are required practically in every state, city and locality, you can choose where you want to settle down. In addition to that, you can also choose your work place – it could be in hospitals, nursing homes, Red Cross, private facilities and so on. As a phlebotomist, you also get to work with a large variety of medical personnel, such as nurses, physicians, surgeons, EMTs and so on. This will keep things interesting, while also giving you a detailed insight into the working of other medical professions.