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What Does it Take to Become a Phlebotomist?

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If you are interested in becoming an integral part of a healthcare team, becoming a phlebotomist may be an ideal career choice for you. 

Thanks to phlebotomy technicians, physicians and other health care practitioners can accurately determine a patient’s underlying health concerns and conditions, potentially saving their life. With compassion and a good bedside manner, you can make what is often a traumatic experience less painful. Learn more about this essential role, Phlebotomy Technician training, how you can make a difference in patients’ lives, and whether it is the right career path for you.

Phlebotomist Job Description

What does a phlebotomist do daily and what is a phlebotomist? Phlebotomy technicians perform a variety of tasks every day, all of which require incredible attention to detail. The primary duty of phlebotomists is to draw blood from patients for medical testing, research, transfusions and blood donations. In addition, phlebotomists explain the procedure and assist patients if they have an adverse reaction, like fainting, once their blood is drawn. 

These medical professionals can work full-time or part-time. In a clinic or lab, a phlebotomist may work the typical 9-5 job, whereas, in a hospital or urgent care, they may work similar shifts to the nursing staff, including night shifts and rotating schedules (e.g., work two or three 12 hour shifts, followed by two or more days off).

The typical duties of phlebotomists include:1

  • Talking with patients and donors to ease any apprehensions about having their blood drawn.
  • Confirming the identity of a patient or donor to ensure accurate labeling of the blood.
  • Labeling collected blood for testing or processing.
  • Recording patient information into a database.

It is also the responsibility of phlebotomists to set up and maintain medical equipment such as test tubes, blood vials and needles. These professionals also safely deliver blood samples to the lab. In order to avoid any contamination or infection, phlebotomists maintain clean and sanitary work areas.

Why Become a Phlebotomist?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects the number of phlebotomy jobs to grow 17% from 2019-2029, which is much faster than the expected 4% across all occupations.2 This growth of 22,800 positions are projected to be in hospitals, blood donor centers, diagnostic laboratories and other locations where phlebotomists perform their duties. The demand for phlebotomists will remain high. The BLS job outlook holds the job prospects are best for phlebotomists that earn certification from the following organizations:

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

Phlebotomist Salary

According to the BLS, the average phlebotomist’s salary in May 2019 was $35,510 a year.3 The top 10% of phlebotomy salaries were over $49,750, while the lowest 10% earned under $26,000. In 2019, the average phlebotomist salary in the top industries in which these professionals worked was as follows:

  • Outpatient care centers $41,620
  • Medical and diagnostic laboratories $37,220
  • All other ambulatory healthcare services $34,460
  • Doctors’ offices $34,400
  • Hospitals; state, local, and private $33,720

It is important to remember several factors that help determine your phlebotomy technician salary, including where you work, your phlebotomist training, skillset and employer. Be advised, salary for entry level positions may be lower than the national average.

Best States to Work as a Phlebotomist

To help you determine which state is the best to practice as a phlebotomist, it is essential you take into consideration those that have the highest employment and highest salaries for this position. 

According to the BLS, the following states had the highest level of phlebotomist jobs in May 2019:4

State Employment Employment per thousand jobs Annual average salary
California 12,860 0.74 $45,940
Texas 9,490 0.87 $33,720
Florida 7.880 1.03 $33,840
New York 6,360 0.76 $42,950
Ohio 5,990 1.26 $34,760

Based on BLS data, the five top-paying states for a phlebotomist salary as of May 2019 were as follows:4

State Annual average salary Employment Employment per thousand jobs
California $45,940 12,860 0.74
District of Columbia $43,820 220 0.30
New York $42,950 6,360 0.67
Alaska $42,100 240 0.77
Washington $41,380 2,860 0.86

Phlebotomist Technician Jobs

Before you seek phlebotomy technician jobs, there are a few details you should know. The environments that one can work in varies. Typical settings for phlebotomists include hospitals, doctor’s offices, medical and diagnostic laboratories. So it is essential you search these facilities local and beyond if you are looking to commute or move. 

You may notice a few job-related titles such as lab liaison technician, mobile examiner, patient service technician, and registered phlebotomist during your job hunt. To help reduce any confusion, here is a quick overview of each of these medical professionals.

A lab liaison technician is responsible for examining and analyzing body fluids, including tissues, cells, and blood drawn by phlebotomists. 

Depending on your employer, as a mobile examiner, you may need to travel to locations like blood donation sites, a client’s home, and assisted living facilities for blood draws. The position may also require that you collect the client’s biometric data, such as blood pressure, height, and weight.

A patient care technician (PCT) works under the direct supervision of a physician, nurse, or another health care professional. Patient care technicians help patients in hospitals, doctor’s offices, and long-term care facilities. In addition to collecting blood work, these professionals can take vitals, help patients with mobility issues, and track their progress during their care.

A registered phlebotomist indicates to prospective employers the professional has completed phlebotomy training and passed a certification exam such as the American Medical Technologies (AMT).  

How to Become a Phlebotomist

What does it take to become a phlebotomist? Some phlebotomists begin their careers with a high school diploma and on-the-job experience. However, most employers prefer to hire phlebotomists who possess professional certification. It is more common for phlebotomists to enter the occupation with a certificate or other postsecondary nondegree award from a phlebotomy training or course. Community colleges, technical schools, and vocational schools offer phlebotomy programs.5

In addition to taking phlebotomist classes, students need laboratory work and instruction in anatomy, physiology, medical equipment usage, and medical terminology.

While the path to achieving certification and/or licensure in most states is rigorous, there are particular abilities, soft skills, and technology skills that can help ensure success.7

Psychomotor Abilities:

Near vision — The ability to observe details up close.

Finger dexterity — The ability to manipulate small objects with your fingers on both your left and right hand in a precise and accurate manner.

Manual dexterity — The ability to swiftly and easily move one of your hands, your hand and arm together, or your both hands to grip, assemble, or manipulate objects.

Arm-Hand steadiness — The ability to move your arm while keeping your hand and arm steady or hold your arm and hand in one position.

Inductive reasoning — The ability to formulate generalizations from specific observations by means of pattern recognition and other analytical skills. 

Deductive reasoning — The ability to examine a general statement or hypothesis and reach a specific, logical conclusion. Deductive reasoning is the opposite of inductive reasoning.

Soft skills:

  • Active listening
  • Time management
  • Critical thinking
  • Effective communication, both oral and written
  • Organization

Technology skills:

  • Electronic mail software — (Microsoft Outlook)
  • Office suite software — (Microsoft Office)
  • Spreadsheet software — (Microsoft Excel)
  • Word processing software — (Microsoft Word)
  • Medical software — MEDITECH Blood Bank, donor management system software, medical, MEDITECH Laboratory and Microbiology, medical procedure coding software.

Which Phlebotomy Certification is Best?

You may be wondering how to become a certified phlebotomist. In general, to meet certified phlebotomist requirements, you need classroom education and some clinical experience. Certification tests often include practical components like drawing blood, along with a written exam. The required phlebotomy certification and/or licensure vary by state. For example, to receive phlebotomist certification in Washington State, you need to meet specific requirements, which include completing a phlebotomy training program and state license verification (list of every state where you have held or currently hold a license). Certifications may require additional competencies such as background checks and the completion of several hours of HIV/AIDS training.6

Start Your Career in Phlebotomy

Carrington College focuses on small class sizes and hands-on training. Here you’re more than a face in a room. Take the first step on your way to a new career in Phlebotomy Technician.

What to Look for in Phlebotomist School

Selecting which phlebotomy course is the right one for you is a big decision. Proper education can pave the way to a successful and rewarding career. While several institutions offer phlebotomy training, it is essential you choose one that meets your educational and lifestyle needs. When searching for the right program, look close to the following four factors:

  • Cost — Postsecondary education is an investment in your future. However, it does not need to be so costly it is prohibitive. For more information on current tuition costs at Carrington College, please see the academic catalog.
  • Accreditation — Whether an institution is accredited may make the difference in your eligibility to receive phlebotomy certification and licensure. Carrington College is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, Western Association of Schools and Colleges (ACCJC/WASC), 10 Commercial Blvd., Suite 204, Novato, CA 94949, 415 506 0234, an institutional accrediting body recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation and the U.S. Department of Education. Additional information about accreditation, including the filing of complaints against member institutions, can be found on the ACCJC website.
  • Instructor quality — Having educated and experienced administration and faculty is essential to ensuring you receive proper phlebotomy training. 
  • Hands-on experience — Because phlebotomists must have direct patient contact, it is crucial that a phlebotomist program offer clinical hours or practicum for hands-on training.

How Long is Phlebotomy Technician Training?

If you ask how long to become a phlebotomist, you will be happy to know it will not take years to earn your certificate of completion. At some institutions, phlebotomy programs can take less than one year to finish. Students can complete the training course at Carrington College in as little as 12 weeks.

Can I Study Phlebotomy Online?

Taking phlebotomy classes online offers flexibility and convenience to students. Here at Carrington College, the 40 lecture hours are completed online. Because you need to have direct patient contact and lab experience to earn your certificate, the 50 clinical hours and ten lab hours must be completed on-site.

What Will I Learn in Carrington’s Phlebotomy Technician Courses?

Upon successfully completing Carrington College’s phlebotomy training course, you will be able to take the National Healthcareer Association Phlebotomy Technician Certification (CPT) exam. Carrington College prepares students to take appropriate certification and licensure exams related to their individual majors. The College does not guarantee students will successfully pass these exams or be certified or licensed as a result of completing the course. Credential preparation varies by location. In addition, you will be able to:

  • Competently collect, transport, and process blood specimens from various types of patients. (Practical but applied theory).
  • Practice accepted standards for infection control, safety and disposal of biological waste as mandated by OSHA and other agencies. (Practical but applied theory).
  • Demonstrate professional conduct and interpersonal communication skills with other health care personnel and the public.

Phlebotomist Classes

Phlebotomists are a crucial component to high-quality patient care, having direct patient contact. Because a phlebotomist must be knowledgeable in areas such as body’s anatomy and function and correct selection of equipment, it is crucial phlebotomy schools provide a combination of classwork, lab work, and several practicum hours that cover these and other areas. This course of study helps ensure students receive the appropriate phlebotomist education necessary for certification and/or licensure.   

The Phlebotomy Technician course at Carrington College prepares students to sit for the National Healthcareer Association Phlebotomy Technician Certification (CPT) exam. Phlebotomy courses require 12 weeks of basic and advanced procedures in phlebotomy with lab hours. The total hours include:

  • Lecture hours: 40 (must be completed online)
  • Lab hours: 10
  • Clinical hours: 50

Coursework covers: 

  • Introduction to blood specimen collection and processing
  • Related body anatomy and function
  • Anticoagulants
  • Site selection
  • Specimen processing
  • Equipment and supplies
  • Safety and standard precautions
  • Professionalism and ethics
  • Review of the health care delivery system

As a Carrington College student, you will use various supportive technologies and equipment throughout your phlebotomy technician training to support the learning process. Technologies and equipment include:

  • Syringes
  • Blood glucose
  • Tourniquets
  • Butterfly needles
  • Draw station chairs
  • Coban wraps
  • Simulated arms

The Phlebotomy Technician course culminates in a Certificate of Completion. The Phlebotomy Technician course prepares students to sit for the National Healthcareer Association Phlebotomy Technician Certification (CPT) exam.

Discover Your Career as a Phlebotomy Technician

Carrington College’s Phlebotomists Program offers you the hands-on training you need for a job as a Phlebotomy Technician. Take the first step on your way to a new career.

Prepare for a Career in Phlebotomy With Carrington College

Carrington College’s Phlebotomy Technician course is available at two locations, Reno, Nevada and Spokane, Washington. The phlebotomy training offers students a combination of online and on-site coursework, small class sizes, and individualized attention. Students will learn proper phlebotomy techniques through coursework and clinical hours while supervised by an experienced first-class faculty. 

Phlebotomy FAQs

Phlebotomy Definition: What is Phlebotomy?

Phlebotomy is the drawing of blood for the purpose of transfusion, diagnostic testing, apheresis, or experimental procedures.

What Do You Call A Person Who Draws Blood?

A phlebotomist is a medical professional that is responsible for drawing blood from patients and donors.

How Long to Become a Phlebotomist?

It can take as few as three months to complete your certificate through Carrington College. 

Do I Need to be Certified to be a Phlebotomist?

The states of California, Louisiana, Nevada, and Washington require phlebotomists to be certified.

Is Becoming a Phlebotomist Worth It?

Whether becoming a phlebotomist is worth it is up to you. However, the optimistic job outlook for phlebotomists indicates a high demand for these medical professionals, which in turn can bring higher salaries, making your investment of time and money worthwhile.

Is Phlebotomy Hard?

Is phlebotomy hard is a very personal question. Many may be able to learn the skills to become a phlebotomist technician, but only you can decide if it is hard, challenging or rewarding. 

How Much Does a Phlebotomist Make? 

The average phlebotomist’s salary in May 2019 was $35,510 a year, according to the BLS. Salaries can vary widely depending on experience and employer.

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