Those who are considering a career as a phlebotomist often have already demonstrated interest in the medical field. Some may have taken courses in high school, college or a vocational school to learn more about the body and about the tests that are necessary to diagnose conditions. Volunteer work may have been performed at a hospital or other medical facility to help aspiring phlebotomists learn more about the career and the tasks that are performed.
Phlebotomy Schools By State
Responsibilities of a Phlebotomist
A phlebotomist is responsible for drawing blood from patients that will be used in the diagnostic process. This blood draw may be performed in a number of locations such as at a hospital, doctor’s office or at a drug testing facility. Phlebotomists may work for these locations or work as part of a team responsible for performing blood draws. Blood donation locations also employ phlebotomists to draw blood that is then collected for donation purposes. When working for a blood donation location, phlebotomists may be required to travel in a mobile blood donation vehicle and collect from donors while traveling.
As phlebotomists must interact with patients directly, strong communication skills are an integral part of this career. Some patients may be nervous, which can make drawing blood difficult. Reassuring or calming a patient can be beneficial for the phlebotomist. Once the blood has been collected, it must be labeled and carefully handled while it is delivered to the testing facility. Phlebotomists must learn the proper handling and safety of blood that has been drawn for testing.
The work environment of a phlebotomist may vary depending on the location of employment but most often work is performed in an office setting. This may include work in a physician’s office, health clinic or hospital room. Patients may come to the phlebotomist for blood draws or may need the phlebotomist to come to them in order to draw blood for testing. Blood draws may need to be performed regularly for some patients such as those who may have chronic conditions or need regular testing to monitor medication.
Work conditions may vary depending upon where the phlebotomist is employed. Some may be part of a mobile team that travels to collect blood donations while others may be part of a lab or testing facility. This career does carry some risks as blood is collected from patients. Phlebotomists must always exercise caution when dealing with bodily fluids to avoid contamination.
Phlebotomist Career Outlook
The outlook for a career as a phlebotomist is strong, with the field growing steadily. The demand for phlebotomists is strong as more hospitals and other medical care facilities are opened. Career options are strongest for those who undergo formal training and become certified as a phlebotomist.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Phlebotomist Training and Certification
Training to become a phlebotomist may be learned in a hands-on environment such as on the job training. Some locations will train those interested in a career as a phlebotomist on proper procedures. While this on the job training is often considered acceptable, many phlebotomists seek formal training to further their careers.
Formal training may be obtained through a college or vocational school. The length of time necessary to complete a phlebotomist training program varies with each school. Some training programs may only take one month while others may last for up to one year. These accredited training programs teach the aspiring phlebotomist proper safety procedures on how to draw and handle blood. Some courses may also include reinforcement of communication skills or other medical information.
A formal exam is required before completing a training program. This certification tests knowledge of many different aspects of a phlebotomist’s work such as anatomy, techniques and the circulatory system. Offered by the American Society of Phlebotomy Technicians, this exam is highly recommended by employers as it demonstrates that the phlebotomist has completed a formal education in their field.
Certification is required in some states and it is important for those interested in a career as a phlebotomist to determine whether their state requires certification. Once completed, this certification is considered nationally recognized and can be useful for those who may seek to relocate to a position in another area.
Phlebotomist Salary Expectations
On average, entry level phlebotomists earn $24,000 annually. The annual salary in this field is often determined by the level of experience that has been earned as well as whether certification has been completed. Often, a phlebotomist who has completed certification will earn more as formal education is desired by employers. The annual salary will also increase with experience that has been earned, often up to $35,000 per year. Once a phlebotomy has become experienced and completed training, promotions to positions such as supervisor or manager may earn over $35,000 per year.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Factors such as employer, state and nature of employment may also impact the annual salary. Some employers may offer higher wages or compensate those who may perform their tasks in a more hazardous environment.