Find training for phlebotomy and get your certification
Are you looking for a stable and secure career in the health care industry? Phlebotomy training and certification can be your ticket to beating today’s uncertain employment climate.
Here, we’re dedicated to providing up-to-date information about phlebotomy schools, phlebotomy training programs and available jobs around the country.
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Students demonstrating phlebotomy and their training
What does a phlebotomist do?
Phlebotomists are specially trained medical technicians who work in clinical or laboratory environments and take blood samples from donors and patients. Samples collected by phlebotomists are used for transfusion, donation, research and testing.
Aspiring phlebotomists must complete phlebotomy training before being permitted to practice. Phlebotomy training courses vary from state to state and might be offered at community colleges, career institutes or in-house hospital training facilities.
Why should you get your certification?
Phlebotomy training can lead to a stable career in a growing industry with strong earning potential. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that phlebotomy technicians earned a median hourly wage of $14.52 in 2010, but they can earn as much as $20.16 per hour at certain institutions. What’s more, the BLS projects 15 percent job growth between 2010 and 2020 for medical and clinical laboratory technicians, a grouping that includes phlebotomists.
Phlebotomy jobs come with the reward of knowing you’re helping maintain a high quality of life in your community. The samples collected by phlebotomist’s help members of the medical profession identify and appropriately treat individual and collective health concerns.
Also, without training, blood banks and other vital storage facilities would be unable to maintain a supply of vital material like blood and plasma for transfusion and other important emergency procedures.
How to become a phlebotomist
Becoming a phlebotomist requires some training. Here’s an outline of how you can earn your certification:
1) Locate courses in your area
Our phlebotomy resources are a great place to start. Find the page that corresponds to your state or search by zip code to learn more about available programs and what you can expect from phlebotomy schools near you.
2) Check the requirements of your chosen program
Even though various facilities might have different specific requirements for getting certified, some conditions are common to nearly all programs across the United States:
- Possess a high school diploma
- Be at least 18 years of age
- Have sufficient physical ability and manual dexterity
- Pass a criminal background check
- Provide proof of current immunizations against common blood-borne diseases
- Know how to read, write and converse in the English language
Prospective students who meet these basic requirements can request information from schools to find a program that meets their needs.
3) Complete scheduled curriculum
Some schools ask students to take basic biology and life science courses alongside their core training. Additionally, some schools might provide courses in medical terminology, basic clinical procedure or other elements of the health care field that can help phlebotomy students learn the best practices of the industry.
4) Successfully complete a clinical practicum
Before being allowed to practice phlebotomy techniques on living patients and donors, trained phlebotomy students collect samples from medical mannequins or other simulated subjects. Depending on your state and your chosen program, you may be asked to perform between 40 and 100 successful blood draws on simulated subjects before graduating as a trained phlebotomist. Some certification programs may also require an internship in a medical or clinical facility.
Accredited certification courses
Different phlebotomy programs may have different course requirements, but the knowledge and skills taught on the way to your certification in phlebotomy are typically similar from institution to institution. Here are a few courses common to many schools:
- Fundamentals of Life Science — covers essential principles of physiology, ecology, cellular biology, genetics, biochemistry and other foundations of health and medical science; usually includes a laboratory section to give students practical experience with the building blocks of life
- Principles of Laboratory Specimen Collection and Processing — teaches students procedures for safety, infection control, clinical laboratory testing, equipment preparation, patient care and other practical concerns of phlebotomists
- Phlebotomy — introduces students to the principal and secondary duties of phlebotomists including collection procedures, quality control, specific safety measures and laboratory information systems
- Advanced Phlebotomy — provides knowledge of applied phlebotomy in the fields of trauma, geriatric, neonatal and long-term care; also covers laboratory procedures such as specimen processing, instrumentation, advanced phlebotomy theory and applications of specialized techniques
Training courses involved in phlebotomy certification can take as little as two or three weeks, in cases of professional certificate programs, or as long as two semesters or more in situations where students can apply their phlebotomy education to a more advanced clinical degree in the future.
Residencies and externships
Programs are occasionally affiliated with colleges online or off-campus clinical facilities where students can gain hands-on experience with the various working environments for phlebotomists.
Externship and residency programs tend to require slightly greater time commitments on the part of students, but graduates from these phlebotomy certification programs can claim greater familiarity with phlebotomy procedures. More experience gained by phlebotomy students in their phlebotomy training programs can translate to greater opportunities in the workforce after graduation.
Certified phlebotomists must be trained in a variety of collection methods. The most common include the following techniques:
- Venipuncture (or venesection) is the process of making a small surgical incision into a vein, usually from a point on the inside of the elbow. The phlebotomist uses a tourniquet to identify a suitable collection site and gathers the sample using a syringe or butterfly needle.
- Finger stick and heel stick are methods for sample collection that draw from capillaries close to the surface. These methods make use of a puncturing tool called a lancet and a self-filling pipette or other collection tube. Capillary collection is most often used to gather samples from infants, elderly patients and other individuals whose veins may be fragile or otherwise unsuitable for incision.
- Arterial collection is used to test gas exchange between the lungs and the bloodstream. Trained phlebotomists performing arterial collection use similar devices to those in venipuncture but typically collect from sites on the wrist rather than the elbow.
Other duties of phlebotomists include the handling of sterile instruments, explanation of collection procedures to donors and patients, disposal of potentially hazardous medical supplies and transportation of specimens or samples between clinical, laboratory and storage facilities.
Phlebotomists also may be responsible for clinical data entry and organization, such as matching requisition forms to collection tubes, documentation of sample transport (PDF) routes, and the input of patient, donor or insurance data into computer systems.
The work environment
After earning your certification, you can find work in a range of settings. More than half of medical laboratory technicians are employed in state, local and private hospitals. About 16 percent of these professionals work in medical and diagnostic laboratories and about 10 percent work in the offices of physicians.
Most jobs in phlebotomy come with the possibility that you’ll be on your feet for fairly long periods of time. In some environments, particularly hospitals, phlebotomists may be responsible for lifting or turning disabled patients in order to properly collect samples.
Phlebotomists work with a wide variety of people, from the able-bodied to the very sick and from infants to the elderly. Clinical and laboratory environments are typically very clean and well lit, but some materials and equipment they use might be infectious or produce potentially toxic fumes.
The working hours of a phlebotomist
Medical and laboratory technologists such as phlebotomists generally work a full time schedule. Overtime hours may occasionally be necessary.
Since medical facilities tend to operate 24 hours a day, phlebotomists might work at any time of the day. Schedules are usually regular, unlike the on-call nature of surgeons and physicians, and might contain morning, afternoon, evening, overnight or weekend hours.
Salary expectations for a certified phlebotomist
Trained and certified phlebotomists enjoy stable careers nationwide, and job opportunities for phlebotomists are growing from coast to coast.
Surveys of individual states show various mean annual salary figures for phlebotomists, according to 2011 BLS data. Here are some yearly wages by state for health care support workers, a category that includes phlebotomists:
- Alaska: $39,610
- California: $36,940
- Delaware: $37,120
- Illinois: $33,850
- Rhode Island: $35,510
- Texas: $30,850
- Washington, D.C.: $40,090
Yearly salary for those with a phlebotomy certification also depends on the sector of the industry where phlebotomists find work. Take a look at this list of a few industry sectors and their mean annual wages reported by health care support workers to the BLS:
- General medical and surgical hospitals: $30,630
- Medical and diagnostic laboratories: $32,470
- Management, scientific and technical consulting services: $45,500
- Offices of physicians: $32,310
- Federal executive branch: $42,180
- Personal care services: $31,400
Salaries also depend on the amount of experience that an individual phlebotomist has in the field. According to 2010 data from the Colorado Department of Employment and Labor, for example, practical experience in addition to accredited phlebotomy training can nearly double the average phlebotomy salary.
- Entry-level experience: $23,000
- Intermediate experience: $30,300
- Advanced experience: $45,200
For more information on certification requirements, jobs and salaries, check the sections of our website dedicated to those specific elements of the field.
A final word on joining this field
If you’ve been wondering how to beat the challenges of today’s unpredictable economy, phlebotomy training can be one way to prepare for an in-demand career. Look into health programs in your area and find out how you can transform a few weeks or months of training into a career that can last a lifetime.