Below is everything you need to know to become a phlebotomist. Find more phlebotomy career resources here.

What Does A Phlebotomist Do?

A phlebotomy technician, or phlebotomist, is a healthcare professional who is responsible for drawing blood from patients, collecting urine samples, performing blood transfusions, and preparing the samples for further medical testing. They generally work in an office-like environment like doctor’s offices, hospitals and clinics.

Phlebotomy Technician’s Job Description

Phlebotomy technicians work closely with people of all different ages and dispositions to draw blood or give blood to a patient or a donor. They must have excellent communications skills and a trusting bedside manner to make the procedure as smooth as possible for even the most difficult patients, especially those who have a fear of needles.

A phlebotomist needs to be precise, follow instructions, work systematically and have an eye for detail to be able to record data accurately and ensure the safety of a patient’s samples, as well as their test results.

Basic knowledge of medical software is an advantage as well as data entry experience because specimen information must be captured following the correct protocol.

Depending on the work environment and number of staff and services offered, a phlebotomist may need to also assist with patient enquiries, making appointments or troubleshooting specimen processing issues.

Phlebotomy technicians work hours can be flexible and generally employers offer an option to work weekends and holidays.

A high school diploma and a certification in Phlebotomy from a state-recognized institution is usually required. Phlebotomy training is one of the less expensive qualifications to obtain and takes only a few months. The organization you go to work for will also provide mandatory orientation and training before your job commences.

Salaries range between $12 and $22 per hour depending on the state you are working in, the organization you are working for and the amount of experience you have. Read more in our article: How Much Is A Phlebotomist’s Salary?

Daily Duties Of A Phlebotomist

There is much more to being a phlebotomist than just drawing blood. Your responsibilities are much more diverse and can include the following:

  • Assembling all the necessary tools and equipment for the procedure like blood collection devices, needles, alcohol, gauze and bandages, etc. This is usually done for each patient individually.
  • Verify the identity of the patient and check their medical records are correct.
  • Create a comfortable and trusting environment and be able to remain calm under pressure.
  • Locate appropriate vein, swab with disinfectant and withdraw the blood into a collection tube or bag.
  • After drawing the blood, treat the punctured area and maintain a warm bedside manner.
  • Accurately label and record the sample collected according to procedure.
  • Other duties can include taking vital signs, interviewing patients, withdrawing test samples to screen donors at a blood bank, administering and supervising blood transfusions etc.

A phlebotomist is a very important job that is not only a specialized skill but requires a patient, warm and precise person. The most important duty of a phlebotomist is to have a calm nature and steady hand to ensure the drawing of blood is as pleasant an experience as possible.

Prospects For Phlebotomists

The need for phlebotomy technicians is growing. It is expected to grow by 25% in the USA over the next 6 years. This is substantially higher than most other sectors in the medical profession.

Due to the low cost of tuition fees and the outstanding entry-level opportunities across the country phlebotomy is an excellent career choice if you have the correct personality.

Hospitals, research laboratories, private clinics, nursing homes, pathology laboratories and doctors are the employers looking to hire phlebotomy technicians. As a growing employment sector it is an excellent option for people looking for a career change.

Salaries depend on the state, the organization and your experience. Generally, the hourly rate is between $12 and $22 per hour with annual bonuses of up to $1,467 and, in some cases, profit sharing of up to $1,546 per annum. We explain the average hourly and annual salaries for different phlebotomy jobs.

Training To Become A Phlebotomist

To start off with you should look at what the specific requirements are in your state. If you want to go and work in another state then you need to look at the requirements of that state as they do vary a lot. We explain everything in our following articles:

Some states, like California where there are a lot of phlebotomists employed have strict education and experience requirements. Other states, like Arizona have no mandatory requirements with regards to certification at all, if you have experience you can work your way up in a laboratory.

However, it is generally better to get certification even if it isn’t required as it will improve your chances of getting a job and it will mean that you are not bound to work in a particular place.

Look at certification programs in your area. There are online programs but, due to the nature of the job, doing a certification where you get hands on training is a far better option. Depending on the program the classes usually take between three weeks and six months.

It is essential that the school or institution you choose is accredited with your state. Even in states without specific regulations, most employers will not consider a certificate from a non-accredited institution.

ACA is the nationally accepted accreditation program but the individual training programmes are not all the same. Look at the courses and programs that make up the training and make sure that they cover all the skills and expertise you will need as a phlebotomist, for example patient care, safety, needle handling, anatomy etc.

Also, worth noting is that some states require continuing education with a few hours training each year to ensure that phlebotomists are up to date with the latest tests, techniques, new diseases or safety protocol.

Here are 5 of the top institutions to study phlebotomy in the USA.

1) Moraine Valley Community College – Palos Hills, IL

This certificate program has been designed based on guidelines set by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS) along with recommendations by the college’s Phlebotomy Program Advisory Committee. You can become a fully-fledged phlebmotomy technician in just 2 months. Moraine Valley Community College offers a 10-credit hour program where you are required to complete three courses. Coursework includes anatomy of the circulatory system, medical terminology, safety, and legal guidelines.

2) Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College – Asheville, NC

AB Tech in North Carolina prepares you to take up the job as a phlebotomy technician in hospitals, out-patient centers, physician’s offices and donor centers. This phlebotomy program starts twice every year and a maximum of 17 slots are available per semester. Applications work on a first come first serve basis. You attend classes for four days per week in addition to clinical training at authorized sites for 3-4 days every week. Coursework includes a 6-credit phlebotomy technology, 3 credits in either interpersonal or general psychology, and 3-credit practicum where you have the opportunity to acquire real-world skills. You must have completed your high school graduation, high school equivalency, or adult high school in order to apply.

3) Austin Peay State University – Clarksville, TN

Austin Peay State University offers non-credit training in phlebotomy. The program starts twice a year in January and August and the main goal is to prepare individuals with the right skills, knowledge, and experience to obtain blood and other specimens for laboratory testing efficiently. Valuable experience is obtained through the practical training at clinical sites located in and around the Clarksville region that is a part of this program. These include institutions such as Horizon Medical Center, Premier Medical, Three Rivers Hospital, Centennial Medical Center, and Trigg County Hospital.

4) Cuyahoga Community College – Cleveland, OH

Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C) currently offers a short two-semester certificate in Laboratory Phlebotomy. It is a day-time program with only 24 students per class. The program is run twice every year and aims to train you with the skills required to collect blood in a variety of situations from medical centres to doctor’s clinics to emergency centres and blood donation centres. Included is an eight-week clinical training period at a local hospital or clinic where you work with real patients under the guidance of experienced professionals. This clinical training period is rather intensive requiring 32 hours of your time every week.

5) Bossier Parish Community College – Bossier City, LA

Through its Certificate of Technical Studies in Phlebotomy, Bossier Parish Community College aims to prepare you as an entry-level phlebotomist so that you can comfortably work under the supervision of experienced nurses and clinical laboratory scientists. This is 1-year program consisting of a total of 26 credit hours. You will need to complete 13 credit hours of qualification courses in subjects such as medical terminology introductory human anatomy and physiology, introduction to phlebotomy and health care systems and safety before you start this course. Three credit hours each in computer concepts and PSYC Elective are included in the program and you will complete seven credit hours in Phlebotomy Hospital Clinicals. This is made up of classroom lectures for 3 hours a week and a total of 180 hours hands-on phlebotomy experience in real-world settings.

Job Opportunities For Phlebotomy Technicians

It should not be difficult to find a job as a phlebotomy technician at all. This is a skill that is in increasingly high demand.

Top companies like Quest Diagnostics, LabCorp of America, American Red Cross Blood Services are some of the top institutions that employ many phlebotomists nationally. Locally you should approach hospitals, medical centers and pathology laboratories.

Find a list of phlebotomy job openings available now.