How Can I Become a Phlebotomist? Schools, Programs, Salary & Cost

If you’ve ever wanted to work with a medical team without necessarily going through several years of training, here’s a chance for you. Becoming a Phlebotomist is what you need. To get a job as a phlebotomist technician, you only need to get a good phlebotomy training program from an accredited school and acquire a certificate to practice. It takes just 10-15 mins read to learn all these.

The Phlebotomist job is very simple – get blood from patients for testing and transfusion. Yet, they are very vital to the allied healthcare community. With a satisfactory payment for the job they do and the short time it takes before you start earning, more students are choosing this career. Also, becoming a phlebotomist is a smart way to start a big career in the healthcare field.

So, it is for these reasons that we will show you how to become a phlebotomist. In this post, you will discover who a phlebotomist is and their job description. You will also learn about how much phlebotomy education and certificate they need to start earning. Read on to discover all these.

What is Phlebotomy?

If this is your first time to hear the term phlebotomy, then you’re in the right place. Phlebotomy sounded like something out of a sci-fi movie to us at first, but we know what it is now and we will share the knowledge with you.

If a medical professional has ever taken your blood before for any purpose, what you see that professional doing is phlebotomy. Phlebotomy is the process of taking blood from the vein by puncturing it with a needle. This process is also called Venipuncture, but phlebotomy goes beyond the process of taking blood. Phlebotomy is puncturing the vein and taking blood for the purpose of testing, research, or even to underwrite a life insurance policy.

A career in phlebotomy sounds like fun, right? Well, it is only so for people who are not scared of blood. So, before you consider hopping into the phlebotomy career bus, ensure that you are someone that is calm in the face of needle drawing blood.

Who is a Phlebotomist?

The professional who takes the blood from you for any medical purpose is the Phlebotomist. Your doctor or your nurse may have drawn your blood with the needle at one point or another and you’re wondering does that make them a phlebotomist?

The answer to that is a resounding NO! That medical doctor or nurse had only performed the job of a phlebotomist, probably because the hospital or medical center is not big enough to have one.

In a large hospital with decentralized roles, you’ll find a phlebotomist, whose job is simply to draw blood from patients to test for diseases or make research.

Also, the phlebotomist is not restricted to the hospital alone. They may move about from house to house taking blood donations from people or blood samples for life insurance policies. This is something your doctor or nurse would not do, and more reasons why the phlebotomist will always be needed.

Meanwhile, the phlebotomist is also the phlebotomy technician. You will find us using both interchangeably in this article.

What are the Job Duties of a Phlebotomy Technician?

We know that phlebotomy technicians collect blood from patients with a needle. But is that all there is to the profession?

The answer is NO. So, here are other duties the phlebotomy technician ill perform in their work environment:

  • Take the patient’s blood pressure, pulse, and respiratory reading
  • Explain operational procedures to patients
  • Use proper identification techniques for specimens, especially when you work in the hospital
  • Use proper sanitation methods to avoid cross-contamination
  • Update the patient’s record
  • Prepare stains and reagents
  • Sending blood and other samples to the lab for testing.

You should also see: What Can I do With A Kinesiology Degree? Careers & Salaries

Where Does the Phlebotomist Work?

The phlebotomist works with a wide variety of people, including medical professionals and patients of different status. Hence, you will mostly find the phlebotomy technician at hospitals (state, local, or private) and medical and diagnostic laboratories.

In addition to these places, you’ll also find them at ambulatory healthcare services, blood donor centers, offices of physicians, and outpatient centers.

Also, because of the nature of their job, especially when it concerns blood donations, phlebotomy technicians will have to travel to different offices and sites. There, they will set up mobile donation centers and collect patients’ blood.

Meanwhile, the phlebotomist usually works full time – be it 9-5 or 24 hours. This is how important they are. Where the work in hospitals and laboratories, they may need to work nights, weekends, and even during holidays.

What is the Phlebotomist Salary and Job Outlook?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Phlebotomists earn an average salary of $34,480 annually. Some may earn higher, while some lower, but on average, the figure above is what they earn.

BLS further gives an estimate of Phlebotomists’ salaries based on the industries they work in. Phlebotomy technicians will earn the following in the different areas they work:

  • Outpatient Care Centers – $39,420
  • Medical and Diagnostic Laboratories – $36,060
  • Offices of Physicians – $33,110
  • Hospitals – $33,040
  • Ambulatory Healthcare Services – $32,870

The State where you work as a phlebotomist will also determine how much you will receive as salary. BLS gives the top 5 paying phlebotomists states as:

  • California – $45,030
  • Alaska – $42,290
  • District of Columbia – $41,600
  • New York – $40,630
  • Massachusetts – $39,970

In 2018, there were 128,300 jobs available for phlebotomists and with an estimated growth of 23% from 2018 to 2028, the number of jobs will scale up to 157,800.

So you see if you choose to go through the necessary educational requirements to become a phlebotomist and become certified, you will get a job with haste. The reason for this is that blood analysis is an essential function in hospitals and medical labs.

What Do I Need to Become a Phlebotomist?

Becoming a Phlebotomy technician is not much of a big deal. Follow the guide below and you’ll become one in no time.

Get a High School Diploma or Its Equivalent

The first step to becoming a phlebotomist is to finish high school and get your diploma. This is a major requirement to get admission into a school offering the required phlebotomy training program.

If you don’t have a high school diploma, a GED can serve. GED is a General Education Diploma that certifies students who could not get a high school diploma. You would have to sit for and pass certain subjects to get a GED, though.

In addition to getting a high-school diploma or a GED, you must be up to 18 years before you can progress in the process of becoming a phlebotomist.

For full information about GED, see: Can you go to College with a GED | Best Answers

Enroll in a Phlebotomy Program

Phlebotomy programs are your direct path to becoming a phlebotomy technician. You can get a phlebotomy training program from technical and community colleges as well as independent training centers like hospitals.

The best option for phlebotomy programs though is phlebotomy schools because of their accreditation, low tuition offering, and the full certification they provide you. Ensure to attend phlebotomy schools with accreditation by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS).

While phlebotomy programs may vary by school, all phlebotomy training will essentially cover anatomy, lab safety, and procedures, venipuncture, hands-on experiences, and labeling specimens.

The beauty of phlebotomy programs is that they don’t take long to complete. A typical phlebotomy program will take anywhere from four to eight months to complete.

Gain Relevant Experience

Before you are fit for a real job as a phlebotomist, you must have gathered enough experience. This is the beauty of Phlebotomist schools – it involves clinical training that builds you up with the right experience.

Because nobody will trust you with their skin to test your needle skills, you’ll start your hands-on training with test subjects. You’ll work with them for a duration of time until you’re steady enough to work on actual patients.

Of course, a lead phlebotomist will be supervising you to confirm that you’ve gained the right experience or else you’ll keep poking test subjects for life.

Get Certification

Gaining a phlebotomy certificate is very important to your phlebotomy career. You should try to gain certification after completing a phlebotomy training program as some states will require it of you to be able to practice. Some other states may not require you to have a phlebotomy certificate or license, but the vast majority of phlebotomists out there are certified, so why not you?

Another reason to get a phlebotomy certificate besides joining the bandwagon of phlebotomists is that it allows you to broaden your scope of operation as a phlebotomist. It could even boost your earnings.

Meanwhile, ensure to get certified from any of the certification organizations below because they are the ones that are most reputable.

States that will require you to gain a phlebotomy certificate are California, Louisiana, Nevada, and Washington. But you have seen that California is the highest paying state, so getting a phlebotomy certificate is worth it.

Find a Job

There is no use of education and certification if you won’t practice with it. In other words, validate your time and efforts to becoming a phlebotomist by actually getting a job as one.

The truth is that because of the high need for phlebotomists, employers will get to you while you’re completing your training program and getting a certification. Nonetheless, you should actively search for phlebotomy jobs near you.

If you had gotten hands-on training in a hospital during your training program, you can go talk to HR and seek employment opportunities. It will be much easier for you if you had made the staff at the hospital friends and networked well.

Also, you can expand your horizon by searching for jobs with blood donation centers, physicians, and outpatient centers.

Maintain Your Certification

There is a need to continue education as a phlebotomist it is a prerequisite to renewing your certificate. Many institutions will require you to earn continuing education credits (CEs) by taking short courses that can be completed in two years. With these, you will be able to renew your phlebotomist certificate after three years and keep updated with the latest development in the industry.

Medical Assistant is a related job; You should also see: 15 Best Medical Assistant Schools: Cost, Salary and Online Schools

What are the Best Phletobotomy Programs I Can Enroll for?

Like we mentioned earlier, the best phlebotomy training programs are the ones offered by community schools. These schools perfectly blend academic coursework with clinical practice – which is a very important aspect of phlebotomist education. It is because of the absence of hands-on practical training that online schools offering phlebotomy programs are unpopular and unadvisable.

On-campus schools are the best for phlebotomy training programs and so here are some good NAACLS accredited programs you should take.

#1. Moraine Valley Community College

Moraine Valley Community College at Palos Hills, Illinois is one of the best schools to get a phlebotomy training program. The program coursework requires a 10-credit hour, where you’ll take courses like medical terminology, the anatomy of the circulatory system, safety, and legal guidelines. Students will complete clinical practice after the coursework classes.

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#2. Asheville-Buncombe (AB) Tech

Asheville-Buncombe (AB) Tech in North Carolina also offers one of the best phlebotomy programs in the USA. AB Tech’s coursework comprises a total of 12 credits: 6 credit in phlebotomy technology, 3 credits in either interpersonal or general psychology, and 3 credits practicum that will give you real-world skills. 

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#3. Austin Peay State University Tennessee

Austin Peay State University in Tennessee also offers quality phlebotomy technician training programs. Unlike the other schools we’ve discussed, this Tennessee technical college offers a non-credit phlebotomy program. Nonetheless, the program prepares competent entry-level phlebotomy technicians in the cognitive, psychomotor, and affective learning domains.

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#4. Ohio community college

Cuyahoga is an Ohio community college that promises one of the best phlebotomy training programs for prospective phlebotomists. Its selling point is its extensive clinical training of 32 hours every week.

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#5. Bossier Parish

Bossier Parish is a Louisiana community college that provides one of the best phlebotomy training programs. Its 1-year program is a 13 credit hours program that blends coursework with a total of 180 hours of hands-on training.

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What is the Cost of a Phlebotomist Training?

It doesn’t cost much to become a phlebotomist. As you have seen above, the only educational path to take as a phlebotomist is the training program that lasts not more than a year. As the duration of the program is short, that is how little the cost of the training is.

The range of cost technical schools will charge you for a phlebotomy training certificate program is between $700 to $2,000. Some schools may charge higher, however, so keep a higher budget.

AB Tech’s Phlebotomy training program costs approximately $1,500-$1,700 for tuition, books, uniforms, CPR class, medical exams, immunizations, etc.

Austin Peay State University, on the other hand, charges $3,650 for its Phlebotomy Technician Certificate Program with Clinical Externship.

Cuyahoga Community College stands on the middle ground with the tuition cost including laboratory fees of approximately $1,986 or $2,504 for out of county students.

Using these three schools as a reference, we can establish that it costs between $1,500 to $3,650 to become a phlebotomist.

What Skills Do I Need to Become a Phlebotomist?

In addition to your phlebotomy education, you need to possess the following skills:

  • Have an eye for details
  • Discipline
  • Dexterity and coordination
  • Compassion
  • Customer Service Skills
  • Patience
  • Ability to stay calm in stressful situations.

FAQs

How long does it take to become a phlebotomist?

It takes less than a year to become a phlebotomist. The main education you need to become a phlebotomist is the training program and it takes between four to eight months to complete the training program, depending on your phlebotomy school.

How can I become a certified phlebotomist?

To become a certified phlebotomist, you must be up to 18 years of age and have completed high school with a diploma to show for it or a GED equivalent. Then get a phlebotomy certificate program from a phlebotomy school and complete the program. You will become certified on completion of the program but you can further apply for state licensure to better your chances of employment.

How much does it cost to become a phlebotomist?

It will cost you anywhere from $700 to $4,000 depending on the Phlebotomy school you pick to get your training from. Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College charges between $1,500-$1,700 for its phlebotomy training program while Austin Peay State University charges $3,650 for its training program.

Are phlebotomist in high demand?

Phlebotomists are in high demand as shown by BLS. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that 128,300 jobs were available for phlebotomists in 2018 and it is to grow by 23% from 2018-2028, which is faster than the average growth. This means that phlebotomists will continue to be in high demand.

Do you have to be good at math to be a phlebotomist?

The Phlebotomist job involves very little calculation, and so does education. Your phlebotomy training program will cover anatomy, lab safety, and procedures, venipuncture, hands-on experiences, and labeling specimens instead of mathematics.

Is phlebotomy a stressful job?

Phlebotomists work full-time wherever they find employment and some work as long as 24 hours without observing holidays, but the nature of the job is not exactly stressful. It is an entry-level job that does not demand so much from the professional, yet is a better career than several other entry-level jobs.

How much schooling do you need to become a phlebotomist?

You need less than a year of schooling to become a phlebotomist. A certificate, instead of a degree, is what you need to start up your career as a phlebotomist and you can get this from a community college in four to eight months.

Can you take online classes to become a phlebotomist?

You can take online classes for phlebotomy but it is not a regular path. Becoming a phlebotomist requires hands-on practice andonline classes will not avail you such. You can only get the coursework requirement online and not the clinical practice.

Do you need a license to be a phlebotomist?

Currently, there are no federal requirements for licensure or certification for phlebotomists. The rules for phlebotomy are set individually by each state. Every state has different requirements for its phlebotomists. There are just four states which require a certification or license to draw blood.

Conclusion

Phlebotomists are very essential to the healthcare industry as they make the doctors and nurses work easier. Their key job responsibility is to draw blood from patients to test for diseases or for donations. But this responsibility is very delicate and would require expertise to ensure that it is well done.

That is why as simple as the task of extracting blood with a needle is, phlebotomists must attend a training program from phlebotomy schools and acquire a certificate. We believe that this post has shown you the right direction to take to become a phlebotomist.

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