Phlebotomists


Quick Facts: Phlebotomists
2017 Median Pay $33,670 per year 
$16.19 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Postsecondary nondegree award
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2016 122,700
Job Outlook, 2016-26 25% (Much faster than average)
Employment Change, 2016-26 30,100

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Phlebotomists Career, Salary and Education Information

What Phlebotomists Do

Phlebotomists draw blood for tests, transfusions, research, or blood donations. Some of them explain their work to patients and provide assistance if patients have adverse reactions after their blood is drawn.

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phlebotomists

Duties of Phlebotomists

Phlebotomists typically do the following:

  • Draw blood from patients and blood donors

  • Talk with patients and donors to help them feel less nervous about having their blood drawn

  • Verify a patient’s or donor’s identity to ensure proper labeling of the blood

  • Label the drawn blood for testing or processing

  • Enter patient information into a database

  • Assemble and maintain medical instruments such as needles, test tubes, and blood vials

  • Keep work areas clean and sanitary

Phlebotomists primarily draw blood, which is then used for different kinds of medical laboratory testing. In medical and diagnostic laboratories, patient interaction is sometimes only with the phlebotomist. Because all blood samples look the same, phlebotomists must carefully identify and label the sample they have drawn and enter it into a database. Some phlebotomists draw blood for other purposes, such as at blood drives where people donate blood. In order to avoid causing infection or other complications, phlebotomists must keep their work area and instruments clean and sanitary.


Work Environment for Phlebotomists

Phlebotomists held about 122,700 jobs in 2016. The largest employers of phlebotomists were as follows:

Hospitals; state, local, and private: 37%

Medical and diagnostic laboratories: 32%

All other ambulatory healthcare services: 15%

Offices of physicians: 8%

Outpatient care centers: 2%

Phlebotomists who collect blood donations sometimes travel to different offices and sites in order to set up mobile donation centers. They also sometimes travel to long-term care centers or patients’ homes.

Injuries and Illnesses

Phlebotomists often stand for long periods, and must be careful when handling blood, needles, and other medical supplies. Injuries may occur if they are not careful with medical equipment.

Work Schedules

Most phlebotomists work full time. Phlebotomists who work in hospitals and labs may need to work nights, weekends, and holidays.


How to Become a Phlebotomist

Phlebotomists typically enter the occupation with a postsecondary nondegree award from a phlebotomy program. Almost all employers look for phlebotomists who have earned professional certification.

Education and Training

Phlebotomists typically enter the occupation with a postsecondary nondegree award from a phlebotomy program. Programs are available from community colleges, vocational schools, or technical schools. These programs usually take less than 1 year to complete and lead to a certificate. Certification programs involve classroom sessions and laboratory work, and they include instruction in anatomy, physiology, and medical terminology.

Some phlebotomists enter the occupation with a high school diploma and are trained to be a phlebotomist on the job. No matter their education level, phlebotomists also receive specific instructions on how to identify, label, and track blood samples.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Almost all employers prefer to hire phlebotomists who have earned professional certification.

Several organizations offer certifications for phlebotomists. The National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT), National Healthcareer Association (NHA), the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP), the National Phlebotomy Association, and the American Medical Technologists (AMT) offer Phlebotomy Technician certifications.

Candidates for certification typically need some classroom education, as well as some clinical experience. Certification testing usually includes a written exam and may include practical components, such as drawing blood. Requirements vary by certifying organization. California, Louisiana, Nevada, and Washington require their phlebotomists to be certified.

Important Qualities

Compassion. Some patients or clients are afraid of having their blood drawn, so phlebotomists should be caring in performing their duties.

Detail oriented. Phlebotomists must draw the correct vials of blood for the tests ordered, track vials of blood, and enter data into a database. Attention to detail is necessary; otherwise, the specimens may be misplaced or lost, or a patient may be injured.

Dexterity. Phlebotomists work with their hands, and they must be able to use their equipment efficiently and properly.

Hand–eye coordination. Phlebotomists draw blood from many patients, and they must perform their duties successfully on the first attempt, or their patients will experience discomfort.

Physical stamina. Phlebotomists are on their feet for long periods, and must continue to take accurate blood samples throughout their workday.


salaries for Phlebotomists

The median annual wage for phlebotomists was $33,670 in May 2017. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $24,250, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $48,030.

 

In May 2017, the median annual wages for phlebotomists in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Outpatient care centers: $36,970

Medical and diagnostic laboratories: $35,330

All other ambulatory healthcare services: $32,520

Offices of physicians: $32,220

Hospitals; state, local, and private: $32,040

Most phlebotomists work full time. Phlebotomists who work in hospitals and labs may need to work nights, weekends, and holidays.


Job Outlook for phlebotomists

Employment of phlebotomists is projected to grow 25 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations. Hospitals, diagnostic laboratories, blood donor centers, and other locations will need phlebotomists to perform bloodwork.

Blood analysis remains an essential function in medical laboratories and hospitals. Demand for phlebotomists will remain high as doctors and other healthcare professionals require bloodwork for analysis and diagnosis.

In addition to blood analysis, phlebotomists are necessary for blood collection, either at mobile blood centers or dedicated donation centers. These phlebotomists may be especially busy during a health emergency, which can correspond with heightened interest in blood donations.

Job Prospects 

Job prospects are greatest for phlebotomists who receive certification from one of several reputable organizations, such as the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT), National Health Career Association (NHA), the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP), the National Phlebotomy Association, and the American Medical Technologists (AMT).

Employment projections data for Phlebotomist, 2016-26

Employment, 2016: 122,700

Projected Employment, 2026: 152,800

Change, 2016-2026: +25%, +30,100


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OccupationENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION2017 MEDIAN PAY
Dental AssistantsPostsecondary nondegree award$37,630
Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians$51,770
Medical AssistantsPostsecondary nondegree award$32,480
Medical Records and Health Information TechniciansPostsecondary nondegree award$39,180
Medical TranscriptionistsPostsecondary nondegree award$35,250
Veterinary Assistants and Laboratory Animal CaretakersHigh school diploma or equivalent$26,140
Veterinary Technologists and TechniciansAssociate's degree$33,400

Citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Phlebotomists,
on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/phlebotomists.htm