How To Become A Phlebotomist

Becoming a phlebotomist is not for the squeamish! It involves taking blood from patients and is a solid career for those that can handle it.

how to become a phlebotomist
Average Salary
Which is also $17.97 per hour!
Career Outlook
22% growth through 2030
Highly recommended

We have all been there.

Sitting terrified in the waiting room to have our blood taken to ensure that we are not sick or to give blood.

The nurse wraps the elastic band around your arm, searches for that perfect vein, and inserts that needle to draw the blood. But wait, that didn’t hurt as bad as you thought it would! That is because you are working with a trained phlebotomist!

They know their stuff and get thoroughly trained to ensure their process is easy and as pain-free as possible.

So, if you have no fear of needles, like helping people, and want a job that has security – then a phlebotomist just might be it. It is a chance to work in the medical field without having to get through years of college and it is a great stepping stone to other medical careers if you eventually decide you want to do more.

Everything you need to know about how to become a phlebotomist is below, so get reading and see if this career is for you.

What Does A Phlebotomist Do?

Phlebotomists are medical professionals who insert needles into a patient’s arm to collect blood samples or plasma that are typically used for lab tests, blood transfusions, or blood donations.

They not only draw the blood samples but may also have other responsibilities including:

  • Interviewing patients before drawing blood
  • Evaluating patients to determine the best location to draw blood from
  • Placing labels on vials
  • Arranging for pick-up of blood samples by labs
  • Completing paperwork
  • Assist office staff
  • Cleaning and maintenance of lab area between patients

Phlebotomists are an important part of our overall healthcare and well-being and typically go through a phlebotomy training program to learn their trade. They may also be required to get their CPR certification as well.

If working with blood or needles is not really what you were looking for, you can look into becoming a 911 operator. In that career, you are also still helping people, but no needles are required!

How To Become A Phlebotomist

Wondering how to become a phlebotomist? Well, it just might be easier than you think!

Below is the recommended path to begin a career in phlebotomy. It all starts with your high school diploma and a good phlebotomy program.

1. High School Diploma or GED

Obtain your high school diploma or GED and be at least 18 years of age.

2. Attend An Accredited Phlebotomy Program

Accredited programs will allow you to receive formal training which is highly recommended for employment. This will be a mix of hands-on and classroom training.

3. Become Certified

Becoming a phlebotomist and then getting certified is the best option for landing a great job. Not all states require certification, but we highly recommend it.

4. Continued Education

Take additional courses and any opportunities for training that come your way. If you are certified, you will need to maintain your certification status with ongoing education.

1. GED or High School Diploma

A high school diploma or GED will be required for those that want to work as a phlebotomist.

It is highly recommended that you attend a phlebotomy educational program that will require you to complete high school. If you are still in high school, taking classes in health and science can help you during your time in the phlebotomy program.

While you are in high school, or before applying for a training program you can consider volunteering to build some experience. You can volunteer at organizations like hospitals, drug treatment centers, or local clinics.

2. Accredited Phlebotomist Training Program

Enrolling in an accredited phlebotomy program is highly recommended to work in this field.

While you can get a job that will provide on-the-job training and has no educational requirement – your future will be much brighter with a dedicated education program – and certification!

Phlebotomy programs can last from a few months to a year and at completion, you will receive a certificate of completion of the program. The training program is typically a mix of lab experience and classroom and can take place at a vocational school or any of the many community colleges.

Some of the things you will learn in a phlebotomy training course might include:

  • Anatomy
  • Centrifuging
  • First aid
  • Venipuncture
  • Medical terminology basics
  • Capillary puncture
  • Finger sticks
  • Heel sticks
  • Collection tools

A complete phlebotomy training program will include classroom instruction as well as hands-on training in blood collection. The clinical training will require a certain amount of hours working with patients, each program may differ in how many hours are required.

This is not a career that you can easily learn online, so we recommend avoiding any online-only classes for this specific career.

Courses to become phlebotomy technicians are often offered at both vocational schools and community colleges.

Attending a program does not mean you are certified, you will need to get your certified phlebotomist accreditation separately.

3. Become A Certified Phlebotomy Technician

The certification exam will take place after you complete an accredited course or have received in-person training from your employer.

Becoming a certified phlebotomy technician will increase your chances of getting a higher-paying job and requires the passing of a certification exam. Certification requirements vary by state, so be sure you look up your state’s requirements to make sure you have what you need to land a great job.

Some states also require you to complete the certification exams and get a license including California, Washington, Louisiana, and Nevada. In California, you can get different levels of licensing including Limited Phlebotomy Technicians, Phlebotomy Technician I, and Phlebotomy Technician II.

4. Continuing Education

Whether you become a certified phlebotomist or not, it is important that you maintain current knowledge of your industry. Taking additional courses and training will help you become a more valuable employee and improve your opportunities.

When you are certified you will be required to maintain certification with continuing education credits. Certification is highly recommended for this field.

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Get information on Phlebotomy Technician programs by entering your zip code and request enrollment information.

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How To Become a Certified Phlebotomist

Below are a few of the most popular certification programs and requirements to become a certified phlebotomist.

These are only available to those that are already experienced phlebotomists who want to get a formal certification. Every certification program has different requirements so be sure you read them thoroughly before applying.

For most applications you will need to supply some of the the following:

  • Application fee
  • Proof of high school diploma or GED
  • Final transcript from phlebotomy school or training (if applicable)
  • Copy of other phlebotomy certification or state license (if applicable)
  • Application signed by the applicant and any other relevant managers or instructors

Some certifications require you to have a certain amount of experience in addition to completion of a phlebotomy certificate program.

National Certification Organizations

Below are the available reputable certifying organizations for becoming a registered phlebotomy technician. All of these agencies are certified and range in price from $90-$135 for the exam.

Only the American Certification Agency for Healthcare Professionals requires a practical exam, but all exams do require a written exam.

Where Do Phlebotomists Work?

This is one of the good things about becoming a phlebotomist, the different types of places you can work. Where you work can greatly impact your pay, so that is important to consider when starting your job search.

  • Hospitals
  • Blood bank or blood donation center
  • Plasma centers
  • Clinical labs
  • Doctor’s office
  • County health department
  • Drug trials
  • Outpatient care centers
  • Diagnostic laboratories

After you gain years of experience, you can also go into phlebotomy education and teach students their new careers. Phlebotomists may work with patients that are brought in by Emergency Medical Technicians or patients coming in for exams. The variety of patients will be large and unique depending on where they work.

Phlebotomist Working Conditions

Because you can be working at a variety of different locations, the working conditions may vary greatly. Working at a nursing home might be extremely different than working at a plasma center for example.

  • If you work in a doctor’s office you may find yourself working a traditional workday like 8 am -5 pm. You may have a few patients an hour and also do some other types of duties throughout the day.
  • If you work in a lab you may be on your feet all day working and have many patients every hour. Some may even require you to hit benchmarks.
  • As a phlebotomist in a hospital it may be a more chaotic and stressful. You may go from area to area and often will need to work weekends and nights.
  • If you decide to become a traveling phlebotomist you will be on the road a bit and sleeping in different places. Typically these jobs are for the most experienced. These jobs can pay more, but can come with a lot of stress.

It is important you really look into any place you are considering working. This Reddit thread talks about what it is like working at Quest Diagnostics as an example, and it is not pretty.

Before you dive in and get started with one of the many phlebotomy programs you should check out the pros and cons of being a phlebotomist!

How Much Do Phlebotomist Make?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the lowest phlebotomist salary averages $28,990 annually while the top earners can earn more than $48,490.

How much a phlebotomist makes will depend on experience, certifications, and location.

BLS shows a median salary of $37,380.

Phlebotomist Career Outlook

Expected growth for phlebotomist jobs is 22% through 2030.

As the workforce ages, there will be many new opportunities for jobs in the industry. Also, the onset of COVID and related diseases will continue to expand the need for phlebotomy technicians.

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Landing A Phlebotomy Job

Many comments I have seen on phlebotomy boards, Reddit, and Quora show that getting a job in phlebotomy is not always easy. Not for the lack of need, because there is a tremendous need, but more because of the lack of experience or certification.

Employers prefer hiring certified phlebotomists, so that should be a must on your list.

Below are some resources to help you find the job of your dreams. One important thing to note is that PERSEVERANCE is key! Don’t give up – and keep on getting those resumes out there.

  1. Phlebotek is a staffing agency that is focused only on phlebotomy and has listings all over the United States.
  2. Simply Hired is a general job board, but has many phlebotomy career listings.
  3. iHireMedTechs is a job board that is specific to medical technicians, with a section just for phlebotomy jobs.
  4. Indeed is another general job board, but has many phlebotomy jobs listed.
  5. Search LinkedIn and Twitter for opportunities
  6. Use your local connections to see if anyone has a connection that can benefit you in your search

Should You Become A Phlebotomist?

If you have a dislike or fear of needles, then of course not!

Aspiring phlebotomists should not even cringe at the thought of needles, must be able to keep calm when patients aren’t, and have a steady hand to make the blood drawing process easy.

If this describes you – then yes, you should definitely consider a phlebotomy career. If a healthcare career is what you have been searching for, this can open the door for many opportunities.

With strong growth, decent wages, and a variety of job prospects it is a solid career choice. But, it is not a career you will get rich with, so if making a lot of money is extremely important, this may not be the right path. It could be a great stepping stone though for other medical professions and allow you the opportunity to see what you like – or what you do not.

US Bureau of Labor Statistics

how to become a phlebotomist

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