Phlebotomy is one of the fastest growing health care occupations In the United States, and individuals can complete phlebotomist training at a vocational or trade school to receive their degree or certification in their field. Some states also require an occupational license to work as a phlebotomist, and individuals interested in this career must have a strong medical and science background. Phlebotomy is an entry-level position, and phlebotomists can advance in their career by gaining work experience and working towards a bachelor's degree in the medical field.
What is Phlebotomy Certification?
While some employers do offer on-the-job training for phlebotomists, most will hire those who have phlebotomy certification or an associate's degree in the field. State requirements for certification vary, but individuals typically need to complete phlebotomy courses at an accredited technical or trade school. Phlebotomy courses and schools must be accredited by the National Accrediting Agency of Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS), and/or the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) that is responsible for approving phlebotomist certification programs around the country.
A phlebotomy technician is responsible for drawing blood from the patient and following specific guidelines and protocol to prepare the blood samples for testing. The phlebotomy technician may also be involved with administrative tasks and working with nurses and patient aides throughout the course of their workday.
Skills Needed to Become a Phlebotomy Technician
A phlebotomy technician works directly with patients to obtain blood samples and prepare them for laboratory testing or blood donations. Therefore, they must hav strong communication skills and be able to work with a variety of people. Phlebotomists are trained to extract blood using needles and syringes, and must learn how to follow specific guidelines and procedures. They must become knowledgeable about the medical facility's practices and procedures, and this information is not often available through standard phlebotomy course programs.
Phlebotomy training programs provide both hands-on and in classroom instruction, but prospective phlebotomists must have and develop core skills such as:
Strong communication skills
Strong focus and concentration skills
Ability to work under pressure
Steady hand-eye coordination
Ability to work by standing for long periods of time
Strong attention to detail
Strong organizational skills
Since many clinical labs and medical facilities now rely on automated computer technologies and databases to keep track of their records, some phlebotomists may also be involve with performing complex tasks using digital devices and computers. They must learn how to use these computer information systems, and may be trained on the job for these skills.
Phlebotomy Schools: Courses and Classes
Phlebotomy schools offer a number of highly-specialized courses such as genetics, donor processing, immune mechanism, blood collection and storage protocol, and blood groups. Individuals who are interested in working in blood banks or as a laboratory technician may also be required to take phlebotomy classes that cover: tissue and cell analysis; microscopic and bacteriological testing protocol; and general blood bank or medical facility procedures.
Most phlebotomy training programs cover a wide range of duties and tasks so that students can easily transition to the work world and use their skills and knowledge immediately. Still, the majority of the phlebotomy classes and courses are designed to provide students with the skills and knowledge they need to extract blood without causing harm or discomfort to the patient. Phlebotomy courses may include:
Phlebotomist Training Program Information
Schools that offer phlebotomy classes and training programs typically require students to meet the following enrollment requirements:
A high school diploma or GED
Immunizations and health insurance
Pass a criminal record or complete a background check
Purchase their own books and scrubs for lab work
Phlebotomy schools give students a chance to work alongside nurses and doctors in a hospital or clinic environment, and carry out basic duties and tasks. They are trained to work in hospitals, labs, clinics and other medical facilities.
Most phlebotomist training programs last between 9-12 months, but some can take up to 24 months to complete. The majority of phlebotomy schools offer programs that require 120 clinical hours and at least 10-12 weeks of classroom instruction.
In addition to completing phlebotomy training, individuals may pursue a bachelor's degree with a major in medical technology, the life sciences or human anatomy. This can help them build upon their career and obtain supervisory or managerial positions within their field. Phlebotomy and clinical laboratory technologist positions are expected to grow faster than the average for all medical-related positions, making this an attractive career path for many.
Career Prospects for Phlebotomy Technicians
A phlebotomy technician may work for medical and diagnostic laboratories, in a medical or surgical hospital, at a physicians office, or for a college or university that is involved with blood sampling and testing. According to the American Society for Clinical Pathology, the median hourly wages of a phlebotomy technician working in a hospital was $11.70 per hour. Those who worked in a physician office laboratory earned an average of $11.25 per hour. And those who worked in a private clinic earned an average of $12.15 per hour.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage and salary earnings of medical and clinical laboratory technologists were $49,700 in May 2006. Those who have completed phlebotomy certification at a phlebotomy school or other vocational training program may receive a lower than average salary; the median earnings are for those who hold a bachelor's degree or higher in their respective field.