What Is Phlebotomy?


Greek for "to cut a vein", phlebotomy is the practice of drawing blood for medical reasons.

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Although many medical practitioners are well-versed in drawing blood, this process, which is also known as venipuncture, is typically done by a Phlebotomist. These professionals are able to draw blood with minimal discomfort to the patient and in such a manner to avoid contamination and the spread of micro-organisms.

Phlebotomy is a crucial part of human health as it helps to diagnose various diseases. Many diseases have similar symptoms and the only way to ascertain what kind of infection one is suffering from is through blood testing.

Phlebotomy has also made it easier to test blood sugar levels for people suffering from diabetes and collecting blood samples to be used for DNA tests, and so on.

One can obtain the title of phlebotomist, or phlebotomy technician, after undergoing a short, usually a year, certification program. It can also be a part of other programs that require either a 2-year associate’s degree or a 4-year bachelor’s degree, such as a nurse or clinical lab technician.

States that require certification include California, Nevada & Louisiana

Some states require that their phlebotomists be certified for them to be allowed to practice. The requirements for this exam may differ from state to state so it's important to inquire with the states board to understand the requirements.

Now, you may be wondering:

"How can I become a phlebotomist?"

Phlebotomy Training

To become a phlebotomist one must complete phlebotomy training courses and develop the necessary skills and abilities that will allow them to work in reputable hospitals, clinics and healthcare facilities.

Basic Training Topics

  • Anatomy
  • Psychology
  • Biology
  • Blood composition
  • CPR
  • Blood collection
  • Capillary puncture
  • Specimen handling
  • Labeling and storing

**Additional topics may be studied depending on school and level of training.

Most phlebotomy training courses also cover knowledge on handling hazardous materials, as well as used needles, syringes, blood-culture bottles, dermal puncture devices and others of this type. Appropriate bedside manner and social skills are also a part of a successful phlebotomist’s abilities, as they have to ensure the patient’s comfort and ease at all times.

During training, aside from technical procedures, a student will also find out how to calm anxious patients and what techniques to employ in order to make the patient feel comfortable and stress-free. Patience and responsibility should be your greatest asset if you’re considering a career in this field!

Phlebotomy training courses are offered by various institutions including technical schools, medical institutions and trade schools. In order to find the best schools and programs that will train you for this career, you can check with human resources departments from local hospitals and clinics. You can also try and find a school with a career department, so that you can find work easier once you’ve completed the training.

Choosing A Phlebotomy Training Program... things to keep in mind

  • Price - Cost can vary greatly from school to school, so look around and find a training program that meets your requirements and price.
  • Accreditation - Make sure your state and employers recognize your training.
  • Job Placement - Many schools and institutions will help you find a job! This will help you start your rewarding career immediately upon completion of your training program.
  • Training Duration - Some courses can be completed in months, while others take up to 2 years. While the shorter courses may be more appealing, just be sure you're receiving the proper training.

After completing the phlebotomy training, most students opt for obtaining certification as a means of accessing better paid jobs and higher positions. While certification is not always obligatory for licensed phlebotomists, it is highly recommended you take phlebotomy certification courses to further your education and pursue a successful career in this challenging field.

Phlebotomy Certification

Phlebotomy certification is only required in 3 states: Nevada, Louisiana and California. While not a legal requirement in most states, obtaining a certification is a clear depiction of your passion and motivation towards this job. It tells the employer you are really dedicated and interested in pursuing a career as a professional phlebotomist and can also be a door-opener to better paying jobs and other interesting opportunities. The certification also allows the employer to be confident in your skills and capabilities.

Obtaining Your Phlebotomy Certification

Step 1

Enroll in a phlebotomy program at an accredited phlebotomy school. Most states require a High School Diploma or equivalent. You will start by completing a certain amount of training hours.

Step 2

After completing the training program, then comes the hands-on experience. Typically, you'll have to perform a minimum amount of procedures, for example 50 skin punctures, and obtain documentation from your employer.

Step 3

Once the initial training and experience are complete, you will take the phlebotomy certification exam. Upon passing the exam, gather all required paper work and submit to your states appropriate department, if applicabe, and you're done!

**Please note that this process may vary by state and by certification requirements.

Online certification courses are also available for people who are still keeping their day jobs or cannot attend classes due to financial or personal reasons. An online course is not that different from the conventional classroom experience and, contrary to common belief, the students will have the opportunity to practice in clinics and hospitals what they learn in class.

The phlebotomy certification test will most often include various aspects, such as the circulatory system, specimen collecting, the order of draw, specimen processing and various laboratory operations. It is also important to be aware of safety procedures and infection prevention.

The certification test will be extremely thorough, which is why we designed several practice tests to help you prepare and successfully pass your phlebotomy certification. Check out our online phlebotomy practice test and don't forget to take advantage of the downloadable versions to help you prepare offline, as well! And be sure to check out our Phlebotomy Brain Games, which make effective learning fun!

Individuals are interested in obtaining phlebotomy certification for financial reasons also, since certified professionals have a better salary potential than others.

Phlebotomy Jobs & Salary

The salary and job outlook for phlebotomist’s is very promising, which is one of the reasons US News listed phlebotomy technician as one of it's 100 Best Jobs!

But, like most jobs, the outlook is dependent on various factors.

Phlebotomy Job Outlook

The job outlook of a phlebotomist is on a record high considering that phlebotomy only became popular 30 years ago.

Healthcare occupations account for twelve of the top 20 fastest growing professions in the United States.
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The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the growth in healthcare jobs will continue through at least 2016.
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The growth rate of phlebotomy jobs is expected to be at a rate that is above the national average.
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The majority of jobs in this sector are in hospitals and medical laboratories. However, there’s been a huge demand for phlebotomists in doctors’ offices, urgent care centers, professional schools, universities and clinics.

The salary of phlebotomists is dependent on various factors such as the region you are practicing, experience and level of training. The average phlebotomist salary according to Indeed.com is $30,000/year with an entry-level phlebotomist typically earning an annual salary of $22,000.

Average Salary Of Phlebotomy Related Jobs

Phlebotomy technicians will receive higher pay if they are well trained by an accredited institution and if they are certified as phlebotomists. Phlebotomists who have attained a degree are at a higher chance to get a promotion which also means a pay increase.

Experience is the other main contributor for a phlebotomist salary. A phlebotomist who is experienced can earn a salary that is 30% higher than one who is just starting out (Tweet this).

And it's also important to consider that some phlebotomists get benefits and bonuses which when added to the yearly salary can be very promising.

Currently, in the US there is no standard pay across all states, therefore you will notice that some states usually pay higher than others.

For more information check out our phlebotomist salary page and learn how you can maximize your pay!

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Reviewed on January 19, 2018