Phlebotomist Salary and Career Guide

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Discover the career path and professional development skills of a phlebotomist and phlebotomist salary, phlebotomy opportunities in venipuncture and more.

[Featured Image] A phlebotomist cares for a patient in a hospital.

Phlebotomy is a growing health care field with competitive salaries and opportunities for advancement. As the Canadian population ages and medical professionals are more in demand than ever, phlebotomists can find full- and part-time employment in various medical settings or as travelling professionals.

In this article, you'll learn about phlebotomists, what they do, and their job outlook. You'll also find common certificates and information on how to enter this important health care career.

What is a phlebotomist?

A phlebotomist, or phlebotomy technician, is a health care professional who 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.

Typical duties and tasks

As a phlebotomist, you’ll meet with patients and sometimes 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 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 have any adverse reactions to latex. You can also ask if they have an arm preference.    

After cleaning 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 in an airtight vial attached to the needle. When you collect the proper amount, 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 no 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 contaminated material.  

Common work environment

Phlebotomists work in various health care environments in full- and part-time positions. Some of the most common work environments include:

  • Hospitals 

  • Clinics

  • Research facilities

  • Post-secondary educational institutions 

  • Government and private research laboratories 

  • Blood donation centres

  • Private medical centres

  • Diagnostic laboratories

  • Nursing homes

  • Doctor's offices 

  • Long-care term homes 

  • Retirement homes

  • Insurance companies

There are also many employment opportunities for travelling phlebotomists. Insurance and home health companies have positions requiring in-home and in-facility visits. If you're not seeking permanent employment, temporary agencies hire phlebotomists to fill short—and long-term assignments.

Job outlook

The Government of Canada Job Bank predicts that the need for phlebotomists will be “Good” to “Very Good” in most provinces and territories through 2027 [1]. The need will likely be strongest in Alberta and Saskatchewan. One of the main reasons for this is Canada's aging population. 

A career as a phlebotomist typically offers job security, competitive pay, and flexible work hours. Job opportunities exist in many health care environments and allow you to work with and meet people from various walks of life. 

What is the average phlebotomist's salary?

Glassdoor reports that the average annual salary for phlebotomists in Canada is $44,432 [2]. The Government of Canada Job Bank reports that the median pay nationwide is $26.00 per hour, but wages can vary by location, experience, and more, ranging from $19.98 to $40 per hour [1]. 


Factors that affect salary outlook 

Several factors impact a phlebotomist’s salary, such as location, educational and experiential level, and employer's industry.

Location is a particularly critical factor in determining the salary of a phlebotomist.  Wages tend to be higher than the national median in certain provinces, including: 

  • Alberta

  • Newfoundland and Labrador 

  • Ontario 

  • Quebec

  • Saskatchewan 

Tips for increasing earning potential 

A career in phlebotomy offers opportunities for increased earning potential. Some ways to potentially increase your phlebotomist salary include:  

  • Working in provinces and territories where phlebotomists receive higher wages 

  • Becoming fluent in English and French, as there are many parts of Canada where a person who speaks both may be required for a job 

  • Gaining as much work experience as possible 

  • Becoming a Certified Phlebotomy Technician and maintaining that certification 

  • Seeking additional certifications and skills that may make you more appealing to prospective employers 

How to become a phlebotomist

For many people, part of the appeal of phlebotomy is that it doesn't take long to reach your career goals, especially when compared to other health care jobs. Here's what you need to do to become a phlebotomist in Canada. 

First, you must finish secondary school. If you want to work as a phlebotomist or in the health care field, take as much science as possible, including courses like biology and chemistry. Some secondary schools may even offer a phlebotomy course. 

Next, you must enrol in a Canadian Medical Association (CMA) approved phlebotomy program. These programs typically include a mix of traditional courses and lab work. You'll learn about topics like 

  • Venipuncture techniques

  • Infection prevention

  • Ethics and professionalism 

  • Blood collecting and handling

  • Medical terminology 

  • Post-puncture care

  • Client and specimen identification 

Most programs like this take a year or less and require you to pass an exam at the end. 

Upon completing the phlebotomy program, the next steps will vary based on the province or territory in which you want to work. For example, British Columbia requires you to earn a Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science certificate. 

Even if your province or territory doesn't require you to become certified, you may consider getting certified by an organization like the Canadian Phlebotomy Technician Group. This can make you more appealing to potential employers. You'll need to be fluent in French and English in some areas. 

Next steps

The more you learn about the human body and the health care field, the better you'll be at your job and the more marketable you'll be when searching for a job. Consider taking a course like The University of Pennsylvania's Vital Signs: Understanding What the Body Is Telling Us, which explores the anatomy and physiology underlying vital signs in just 14 hours, or George Washington University's Leading Healthcare Quality and Safety.

Article sources


Government of Canada Job Bank. “Wages Phlebotomist in Canada," Accessed April 23, 2024. 

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