Phlebotomy is defined as the act of cutting or opening a vein for the purpose of drawing blood. A phlebotomist is a type of medical laboratory technician who specializes in the collection of human and animal blood samples. Blood is most commonly collected through a vein in the arm, but can also be collected through a finger in some situations. They are also responsible for the proper labeling and transport of collected samples to their appropriate destination. Due to the fact that phlebotomists work directly with blood, all possible precautions must be taken to insure the safety of both the technician and the patient and minimize any possible risk of disease exposure.
National Average Phlebotomist Salary
Hourly Wage Annual Wage
Upper: $21.06 $43,800
Median: $14.74 $30,670
Lower: $10.65 $22,150
States With Highest Salary
State Avg. Hourly Wage Avg. Annual Wage
- Alaska $18.53 $38,540
- District of Columbia $18.18 $37,820
- New York $18.17 $37,790
- California $18.16 $37,770
- Maryland $17.88 $37,190
*All statistical data is from the U.S. Department of Labor and is updated quarterly
The main function of a phlebotmist is to take samples of blood from patients. Patients can be human or animal depending on the facility they are working in. There is just as much a need for this skill in animal hospitals as there is in human hospitals.
The responsibilities can vary depending on where you work, though many of the tasks are universal to the job, including:
- Collecting blood samples via venepuncture from patients
- Have knowledge of all required equipment needed to perform tasks
- Maintaining sterile conditions of all equipment as well as work environment
- Record keeping
- Proper labeling of samples
- Storage of samples
- Transport of samples
- Interviewing patients and recording history
- Maintaining safety protocols to insure there is no risk of exposure to blood
Medical technologists with advanced degrees working in labs may also be responsible for analysis of blood samples. Screening for diseases as well as classifying blood type for use in transfusions are typical. Also, knowing how to operate automated equipment that performs many different types of analysis is necessary.
Phelbotomists can be found working in a variety of medical settings including hospitals, laboratories, doctors offices, wellness centers and blood donation centers. Phlebotomists are also employed in animal hospitals, veterinary offices and zoos. For those with advanced degrees, it is common to be employed in a research lab.
It is not uncommon for them to spend a good part of their shift on their feet, gathering blood from patients. Sometimes it is also necessary to help move a patient, so this job can be somewhat physically demanding.
Because they work with blood, they are at risk of being exposed to infectious diseases. This means that all safety precautions must be taken including, wearing protective gloves, eye wear, and mask when appropriate. Some research facilities may require hazard suits depending on the risk.
Work schedules are similar to others in the medical field. Facilities are usually staffed around the clock seven days a week so weekend and overnight shifts are a possibility.
How To Become A Phlebotomist:
Education and Licensing:
There are several educational pathway to becoming a phlebotomist. The quickest way would be to enroll in a certification program. These programs require a high school diploma or equivalent. They usually span 12 weeks to one year long and will give you all the necessary training to become a certified phlebotomist.
The other pathway is to become a medical technician or medical technologist who specializes in phlebotomy. Medical technicians require a 2 year associates degree and medical technologist need a 4 year bachelors degree.
For those who want to work in research facilities, you will most likely have to follow the 4 year tract and become a certified medical technologist. Regardless of the educational path you choose, all will adequately prepare you for your licensing exams. Degree programs can be found at colleges, universities, as well as hospitals.
Certification is determined by the state you will be working in. Not all states require certification, though an employer may require it even if the state does not. It is better to become nationally certified as it gives you an advantage when trying to get hired.
Who Should Become A Phlebotomist?:
Needless to say if you want to practice phlebotomy, you must be comfortable working with blood. Phlebotomy involves invasive procedures that you need to be comfortable performing. Having a good report with people is also a needed quality as you will be dealing with lots of patients, some of which have great anxiety about getting their blood drawn. Talking to these patients is especially important so you can help ease there concerns and phobias about getting blood drawn.
Some may choose to work with animals weather in an animal hospital or lab. Even more so with animals, there is great fear of having a medical procedure performed on them, especially one that involves needles and possibly pain. They do not understand and will be frightened. Having the ability to talk to and calm the animal is as important a task as doing so with human patients.
Like other professions in the medical field, being able to stay organized and keep detailed record is vital. There is no room for error when labeling samples and sending them to the appropriate destination.
Since phlebotomy involves the insertion of needles, a plebotomists needs to have steady hands. If you lack dexterity with your hands, this may not be the best career choice for you.
How Much Does A Phlebotomist Make?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual phlebotomist salary is $31,890. The lowest 10 percent of reported incomes was averaged at $22,150 while the top 10 percent of earners took home an estimated $43,800. The state with the highest average salary is Alaska with an annual mean salary of $38,540.
Factors That Can Influence Salary:
As with all jobs, the primary factors that will influence your salary are location and experience. Salaries will vary even within a state. A job in a metropolitan area will offer a higher salary then one in a rural center. Also the type of facility you are working in will play a role in your final salary.
As mentioned earlier, there are numerous pathways to becoming a phlebotomist. The more advanced your degree is, the higher salary you can command. If you are certified this can also mean more money.
Phlebotomy offers a great opportunity to start in the medical industry. If you have taken a non-degree program you will have some good foundations for starting a degree program such as nursing or medical lab technician. A surgical tech program could also be a possibly as well as numerous other medical related jobs.
If you have an associates or bachelors degree you may we able to become a certified nurse with minimal schooling as you will have had already taken many of the courses required for a nursing degree. This can also be translated into almost any other medical related career including physicians assistant or medical doctor. Though there would of course be much more schooling required for the latter.
The number of jobs for phlebotomist is expected to increase by around 25% between 2014 and 2024. This is above the 7% growth rate predicted for the rest of the economy. With an aging population that number is expected to increase as there will be a drastic increase in those requiring medical intervention.
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median earnings per week than workers with only a high school diploma.*