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 to that that are.
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.
While they are most commonly known as a person who takes blood samples, they may do other things 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
If working with blood or needles is not really what you were looking for, you can look into becoming a 911 operator or a sterile process technologist.
You can also become a mortician, which is a good option – but death should definitely not scare you for this job!
Wondering how to become a phlebotomist? Well, it might be easier than you think!
Below is the recommended path to begin a blood taker job. 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 Training Program
An accredited training program will allow you to receive formal phlebotomy 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.
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.
Phlebotomist training cost averages will also vary based on the program you decide to take as well as your location. Be sure to talk to financial services where you decide to enroll if you need help with fees to see what they can offer.
For most applications you will need to supply some of 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 the completion of a phlebotomy certificate program.
National Certification Organizations
Below are the available reputable certifying organizations for becoming a registered phlebotomy technician. Each of these will help you understand the phlebotomist qualifications that may be needed for your state.
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.
- American Society for Clinical Pathology – Board of Certification
- National Center for Competency Testing – NCPT exam
- American Medical Technologists – Certified Phlebotomy Technician
- American Certification Agency for Healthcare Professionals (ACA)
Are phlebotomy classes hard?
Most who take phlebotomy classes do not find them that difficult. With a pass rate of about 76% on one of the phlebotomy exams (NCPT), it is clear that most people do well.
Where Do Phlebotomists Work?
This is one of the good things about becoming a phlebotomist! You can work in a variety of facilities like hospitals, doctor’s offices, schools, and more.
Below is a list of places a phlebotomist might typically work:
- Blood bank or blood donation centers
- 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 and hours you work 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 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 Phlebotomists Make?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the lowest phlebotomist wage averages $28,990 annually while the top earners can earn more than $48,490.
BLS shows a median salary of $37,380.
How much a phlebotomist makes will depend on experience, certifications, and location, so be sure to visit our state guides for more local information.
Phlebotomist Career Outlook
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.
The expected growth for phlebotomist jobs is 22% through 2030.
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.
- Phlebotek is a staffing agency that is focused only on phlebotomy and has listings all over the United States.
- Simply Hired is a general job board, but has many phlebotomy career listings.
- iHireMedTechs is a job board that is specific to medical technicians, with a section just for phlebotomy jobs.
- Indeed is another general job board, but has many phlebotomy jobs listed.
- Search LinkedIn and Twitter for opportunities
- Use your local connections to see if anyone has a connection that can benefit you in your search.
Below are some additional resources that can help you on your career journey.
Should You Become A Phlebotomist?
If you have a dislike or fear of needles, then definitely not! Aspiring phlebotomists should not even cringe at the thought of needles.
They must also be able to keep calm when patients aren’t, and have a steady hand to make the blood drawing process easy. Many people fear the idea of having blood drawn, so your initial contact with them may be stressful. You need to be calm, patient, and have empathy for the patient.
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 to 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.