How to Become a Phlebotomist

Compensation, Job Outlook, and More

Nurse drawing blood from man's arm
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Phlebotomists are allied medical professionals who draw blood from patients for various lab tests and procedures. Nurses also commonly perform phlebotomy, and hospitals and medical offices will often hire additional staff who are trained in phlebotomy.

Who Becomes a Phlebotomist?

A high school graduate or college student could take a course at a local technical or vocational school and learn phlebotomy. Many professionals who plan to become a nurse or a doctor often start out by working in a medical office or hospital as a phlebotomist. Because phlebotomy entails a fairly short training period, and because phlebotomist jobs are relatively easy to find and obtain, phlebotomy is a great way for someone to try out working in a medical setting.

Jobs for phlebotomists are available at hospitals, medical offices, and clinics. Additionally, if you already work in a medical office or hospital in another setting, you may be able to obtain on-the-job training to learn how to draw blood without having to take a course.

As a phlebotomist, you will be working with people who are ill, injured, or who are getting their regular wellness checkups. You have to be able to calm those who fear to have their blood drawn. You must be detail-oriented draw the correct vials, label, and process the specimens for tracking through the lab. It takes dexterity and skills to successfully draw blood.

Compensation

If you're not trained or qualified in any other nursing skills, compensation may be limited. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for phlebotomists was $32,710 or $15.72 per hour in 2016. Payscale.com lists the range of hourly rates from $10.39 to $18.49.

Job Outlook

Employment of phlebotomists is projected to grow 25 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations. Hospitals, diagnostic laboratories, blood donor centers, and other locations will need phlebotomists to perform bloodwork.

Finding a Phlebotomy School

You may find schools in your area by researching the following:

  • Check with the various phlebotomy certification ​​organizations for information on phlebotomy schools they affiliate with that may be in your area. These organizations include American Society for Clinical Pathology, American Medical Technologists, and National Center for Competency Testing, 
  • Check with your local community college or vocational school. They may offer a phlebotomy class.
  • Contact the laboratory manager or the laboratory’s phlebotomy supervisor of your local hospital. These professionals often know of training opportunities in the community.

What to Look For in a Phlebotomy Program

Phlebotomy is an unregulated profession. Outside of California, there are no standards or minimum requirements for phlebotomy schools. For potential students to emerge with a marketable skill that will meet the needs of local employers, students must know the earmarks of a quality phlebotomy program. The following list contains suggested indicators of a quality phlebotomy program:

  • A didactic (classroom) component of at least 40 hours and a clinical component (where students draw on actual patients in a healthcare setting)
  • The didactic component is based on the standards of the Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute (CLSI)
  • The clinical component requires students to perform at least 100 successful unaided blood specimen collections, including both venipunctures and capillary collections, in a Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) regulated laboratory.
  • Upon completing the program, students are eligible to take a national certification examination administered by one of the following agencies:​
    • American Medical Technologists (AMT)
    • American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP)
    • National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT)
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