Phlebotomy is a growing field with competitive salaries and opportunities for advancement. A phlebotomist can work in a medical setting or as a traveling professional.
A phlebotomist, or phlebotomy technician, is a health care professional that draws blood from patients for laboratory testing, transfusions, and research. As a phlebotomist, you’ll have opportunities to work one-on-one with patients of all ages or as a specialist with pediatric or geriatric patients.
As a phlebotomist, you’ll meet with patients and will, at times, need to talk with them to ease their anxiety. You may encounter a nervous patient who fears needles, so you’ll want to be comfortable talking with people of all ages and walks of life.
Before you begin a blood draw, you’ll verify the patient’s identity and confirm the required number of specimens ordered. If your patient is ambulatory, you’ll want to ask them if they’ve ever fainted during a blood draw and if they have any adverse reactions to latex. You can also ask if they have an arm preference.
After you clean the injection site with an antiseptic, you’ll place an elastic band above it to add pressure. You'll then insert the needle into the vein and collect the blood into an airtight vial attached to the needle. When the proper amount is collected, you'll remove the needle and cover the punctured area with a bandage.
Before the patient leaves, you'll advise them of immediate aftercare instructions to prevent bleeding, such as not heavy lifting or placing a wet cold pack on the puncture site to avoid bruising.
You’ll then label the vials and enter the information into a database. The blood samples are delivered to a specified laboratory for examination by a lab technician.
As a phlebotomist, you also ensure the equipment is sterile and properly dispose of any that might be contaminated.
Should you pursue a career as a phlebotomist, you’ll have a wide choice of working environments, and there are opportunities for full-time and part-time positions. The most common work environments are:
Skilled nursing facilities
Medical and testing laboratories
Blood donor organizations
Substance abuse facilities
Public health centers
There are many employment opportunities for traveling phlebotomists as well. Insurance companies and home health companies have positions that require in-home and in-facility visits.
If you're not looking for permanent employment, temporary agencies hire phlebotomists to fill short and long-term positions.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts job opportunities for phlebotomists will grow much faster than average for all occupations by 2030 . There were 129,600 jobs in 2020, and the BLS expects that number to increase by 28,800 within a decade, an increase of 22 percent.
The BLS attributes this growth to more hospitals and diagnostic labs needing blood samples drawn. Many openings are projected due to promotions, retirements, and replacing those who leave the job market for other reasons. As health care becomes more accessible and affordable to a larger population, the demand for blood testing has increased.
Major companies that hire phlebotomists include the American Red Cross, Quest Diagnostics, Aerotek, Mindlance, and Valley Health Systems.
A career as a phlebotomist typically offers job security, competitive pay, and flexible work hours. Job opportunities exist in many health care environments and provide the opportunity to work with and meet many people from various walks of life.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the mean annual salary for phlebotomists at $37,380 as of May 2021. The salaries per industry include:
Outpatient care centers $38,220
Medical and diagnostic labs $38,040
Physician offices $36,410
Other ambulatory health care services$35,360
Location is a critical factor in determining the salary of a phlebotomist. The most promising states for phlebotomist careers are:
Looking beyond geographical locations, your place of employment and level of education and experience also affect your salary. Generally, hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, state government-owned medical facilities, and colleges and universities offer the highest-paid positions.
Traveling phlebotomists are in high demand as the population ages. Salaries range from $29,000 to $46,000 , depending on experience. Many employers offer additional compensation for gas and time spent traveling.
A career in phlebotomy offers opportunities for increased earning potential. Some include gaining experience, location, obtaining a degree, and becoming certified. Here’s a closer look at each.
The more experience you gain, the more you can generally increase your earning potential. Some employers only require experience for promotions, while others prefer continuing education.
You can gain experience with in-house training offered by hospitals and other health care facilities. You’ll learn venipuncture techniques and get hands-on equipment experience. Phlebotomy opportunities can include internships, so check with any medical facility you’d like to work at to see what’s available.
You may want to work with a specific age demographic, and there are opportunities available in pediatric and geriatric phlebotomy. Because these specializations require more challenging blood draws, there are training and exams available to provide you with the credentials to work with pediatric and geriatric populations.
The geographic location you work in can impact your earning potential. Highly populated and affluent metro areas offer more earning opportunities.
You can also look beyond geographical locations and consider around-the-clock care facilities where you can earn shift-differential pay.
Although a degree isn’t necessary to work as a phlebotomist, accredited degree programs provide classroom training and job experience. Associate degree programs are available at many colleges, and bachelor’s degree programs in medical technology are also options to consider if you aspire to be a phlebotomist.
A degree can result in a more competitive salary and it can be beneficial if your goal is to seek a higher position in the future, such as a medical technologist.
You also have the opportunity to become a certified professional phlebotomist. Even if your state doesn’t require certification, it can be advantageous to earn one. Certified phlebotomists can often earn a higher salary than non-certified phlebotomists.
Some programs provide online learning. However, clinical experience is needed for course completion that will require completing a specified number of venipunctures on patients or mannequins. When choosing an online program, make sure the school has a nearby place for you to complete your clinical hours.
There are many types of certifications for phlebotomists, each with different requirements. While one isn’t necessarily better than the others, the prerequisites are less challenging for some certifications. Here are some examples:
Phlebotomy Technician Certification (PBT-ASCP) offered by the American Society of Phlebotomy Technicians: This certification requires a high school diploma and 40 hours of class training, and 100 hours of practice.
Phlebotomy Technician Certificate (PTC-ASPT) offered by the American Society of Phlebotomy Technicians: To qualify for this certification, you must have completed a phlebotomy training program and six months of full-time or one year of part-time experience as a phlebotomist.
Certified Phlebotomy Technician (CPT-NHA) offered by the National Healthcareer Association: This certification requires completing classes through the National Healthcareer Association.
Registered Phlebotomy Technician (RPT-AMT) offered by the American Medical Technologists: For the RTT-AMT certification, you’ll need to pass an accredited phlebotomy course within the past four years and 1,040 cumulative hours working as a phlebotomist within the past three years.
Certified Phlebotomist Technologist (CPT-NPA) offered by the National Phlebotomy Association: Along with venipuncture training, requirements include160 hours of classroom lessons and 200 hours of practical application.
Your career as a phlebotomist can begin in a year or less, depending on the educational path you choose and whether you seek certification.
You’ll need to take steps including graduation from high school or a GED. You can then apply to a phlebology program that a community college or vocational school offers. Most programs take about a year to complete, although some take less than that. You’ll have classroom instruction as well as practice blood draws.
When applying to most programs, you’ll need to submit immunization records and pass a background check. You may need CPR certification for admittance into some programs.
Once you’ve completed the educational requirement, you can pursue certification. Many employers prefer hiring phlebotomists who hold accredited certification credentials. The process includes taking an exam, and there are multiple offerings for testing and certification. Some certification programs require an applicant to have a specific number of vein punctures to qualify for the exam.
Depending on the state you work in, a license may be required. You’ll want to check with your state’s professional licensing board to see if you’ll need a license and the requirements needed. Once you’ve passed the exam, you can apply to jobs that meet your interests and career goals.
As you’re thinking about a career in phlebotomy, you can explore the various education options to help you decide which best meets your career interests and lifestyle.
You may want to consider membership in the National Phlebotomy Association. It offers many benefits for professional development, including a job board and a schedule of events for phlebotomists and those interested in entering the career field.
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1. US Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Phlebotomists: Occupational Outlook Handbook, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/phlebotomists.htm#tab-6." Accessed March 31, 2022
2. US Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Phlebotomists: Occupational Outlook Handbook, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/phlebotomists.htm#tab-5." Accessed March 31, 2022.
3. Phlebotomy U. "What Are Traveling Phlebotomy Jobs?, https://phlebotomyu.com/traveling-phlebotomy-jobs/." Accessed March 31, 2022.
4. Northwest Suburban College. "Phlebotomy Certifications: 5 Types You Need to Know About, https://nwsc.edu/phlebotomy-certifications-types/.” Accessed May 6, 2022.
This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.