How To Become a Phlebotomist (Plus Duties, Salary and FAQs)

Jamie Birt

Updated October 7, 2022

Published February 4, 2020

Jamie Birt is a career coach with 5+ years of experience helping job seekers navigate the job search through one-to-one coaching, webinars and events. She’s motivated by the mission to help people find fulfillment and belonging in their careers.

This article has been approved by an Indeed Career Coach

Phlebotomists collect and analyze blood samples to help medical providers treat and diagnose patients. These health care professionals typically complete specialized education and training to prepare them for this role. Knowing the requirements to become a phlebotomist can help you decide if you want to pursue this health care career.

In this article, we explain what phlebotomists do, describe how to become a phlebotomist and answer other frequently asked questions to help you explore this career path.

What does a phlebotomist do?

Phlebotomists collect blood from patients using a venipuncture process, which uses veins to draw blood. These health professionals match samples, label and store blood and handle substances in a safe, sanitary way. In some cases, they may perform blood transfusions or assist with blood donations. Phlebotomists often work directly with patients to explain the procedure and help them feel comfortable. They also collaborate with physicians and other providers, who use the blood samples to evaluate patients and make diagnoses.

While phlebotomists may have various duties depending on their position or employer, they're typically responsible for:

  • Drawing blood and bandaging patients after collecting samples

  • Measuring and recording patients' blood pressure, temperature, pulse and oxygen levels

  • Updating and maintaining patient records

  • Cleaning, preparing and sterilizing equipment

  • Sending blood and other samples to a laboratory for testing

Related: Learn About Being a Phlebotomist

How to become a phlebotomist

Here are the steps you can take to become a phlebotomist:

1. Graduate high school

Most phlebotomy programs require candidates to have their high school diploma or equivalent, such as the GED. During high school, take a range of courses to help you prepare to enter a phlebotomy program. Some helpful classes to take include health, chemistry, biology, anatomy and communications.

Related: GED vs. High School Diploma: What's the Difference?

2. Enroll in a phlebotomy program

Research phlebotomy programs to choose the one you want to attend. Many trade schools and community colleges offer phlebotomy programs, which typically include courses in anatomy, medical terminology and physiology. Choose a program accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences, which sets educational standards in phlebotomy. Completing an accredited program can help you become certified after you graduate.

Typically, the eligibility requirements for a phlebotomy program include:

  • Proof of high school graduation or equivalent

  • Updated immunization records

  • CPR certification

  • Background check

3. Earn a certification

Most employers prefer to hire candidates who have a phlebotomy certification. After completing a phlebotomy program, consider earning a certification to broaden your job search. Requirements for certification vary, but most require you to pass an exam. Some available phlebotomy certifications are:

  • Phlebotomy Technician: This certification, offered by the American Society for Clinical Pathology, requires candidates to complete an approved phlebotomy program or have relevant experience. You can pass a certification exam to earn the credential and renew it every three years.

  • Certified Phlebotomy Technician: The National Healthcareer Association offers this certification, which you can earn by passing a 100-question certification exam. After you earn the certification, you can renew it every two years.

  • Registered Phlebotomy Technician: This certification, available through the American Medical Technologists, requires you to complete a phlebotomy program or on-the-job training. You can take an exam to earn the certification and renew it every three years.

Related: 13 Types of Phlebotomy Certifications

4. Search for jobs

After completing a phlebotomy program and earning a certification, search for phlebotomy jobs. Research various medical facilities, such as hospitals, clinics, blood donations centers and laboratories, to find job openings. Prepare a resume highlighting your education and training. Review job postings to determine keywords and phrases you can use on your resume to align your qualifications with open positions.

Related: How To Write a Phlebotomist Resume in 6 Steps

5. Maintain your skills

Once you begin working as a phlebotomist, it's important to maintain your skills so you can stay updated on processes and technologies. In your first job, you may receive on-the-job training to become familiar with the rules, procedures and regulations where you work.

As you gain experience, consider taking additional courses or trainings to improve your skills. You may earn additional certifications to expand your skill set or specialize in an area of phlebotomy. This professional development can help you continue to grow in your career as a phlebotomist.

Related: Ways To Advance Your Phlebotomist Career Path (With Salary)

Average phlebotomist salary

Phlebotomists earn an average salary of $51,157 per year. Their salary can vary based on several factors, such as their employer, geographic location or training and experience. Most phlebotomists work in full-time positions and may earn benefits through their employers, such as paid time off, health insurance and retirement savings plans. These benefits can contribute to their overall compensation.

For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, click on the link provided.

Read more: How Much Does a Phlebotomist Make?

Frequently asked questions about phlebotomists

Here are answers to some common questions you may ask when considering a career as a phlebotomist:

How long does it take to become a phlebotomist?

It typically takes about one year to become a phlebotomist. You can complete many phlebotomy programs in one or two semesters, which may take four to eight months. After a phlebotomy program, many professionals choose to pursue certifications to become qualified for more jobs. It may take additional time to prepare and study for a certification exam.

Read more: Becoming a Phlebotomist: How Long Does It Take?

What are the skills of a phlebotomist?

Phlebotomists use a variety of hard and soft skills to perform their job tasks and interact with patients. Some helpful skills for phlebotomists include:

  • Attention to detail: Phlebotomists use this skill to draw vials based on a physician's orders and track samples to deliver them to a laboratory. They also use attention to detail to perform data entry correctly.

  • Communication: It's important for phlebotomists to have effective communication skills so they can explain processes to patients. They also communicate with laboratory technicians and health care providers.

  • Empathy: Some patients may feel nervous or scared about having their blood drawn. Phlebotomists can use empathy to help keep patients calm and comfortable.

  • Dexterity: It's important for phlebotomists to have excellent dexterity so they can perform venipuncture processes precisely and accurately.

Read more: Phlebotomist Skills: Definition, Checklist and Tips

What's the job outlook for phlebotomists?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment of phlebotomists may grow by 21% by 2031. That rate is much faster than the average growth of other occupations in the general workforce. This growth may come as hospitals, blood donation centers and laboratories continue to hire phlebotomists who can perform blood draws for medical analysis.

What are the continuing education requirements for phlebotomists?

Each state has its own requirements for continuing education. Typically, you can expect to complete about six credit hours each year to comply with your state's rules. If you have a certification, you may also be required to renew your credential every few years.

This renewal may involve completing continuing education credits. Typically, you can take continuing education courses through vocational schools or community colleges. Completing this education can help you maintain your knowledge of phlebotomy best practices and standards.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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