Are you planning on becoming a phlebotomist? Look no further as you have reached the right place. Becoming a phlebotomist in the present day can be nothing but rewarding for you. Phlebotomy is a fast developing and promising field in the medical sector. Phlebotomy is the practice of making a small incision or a cut in the vein so as to draw blood from the artery, vein or other organs or to inject any other fluid. This is a job that requires a lot of skill and precision. It is high paying and provides the worker with a great load of job satisfaction as well.
What does a phlebotomy technician do?
If you’ve ever wondered about what phlebotomist technician does, the answer might not be interesting to everyone, especially those who have phobias regarding blood and needles. Phlebotomy technicians draw blood for various tests, transfusions, research or blood donations. Their primary job is to draw high quality samples of patient’s blood, label the blood samples, talk to patients to make sure the procedure is thoroughly explained and the patient feels comfortable. Phlebotomy technicians also assemble and maintain equipment needed for drawing blood, such as needles, tubes and blood vials. Once they explain the procedure to the patient and make him feel comfortable and less stressful, phlebotomy technician then draws samples of blood which after properly labeled, stores accordingly and enters the information in the database.
In order to avoid infections or other health complications, it is phlebotomist’s job to maintain the environment clean and sanitary. Because they work directly with patients, phlebotomy technicians must possess good communication skills and work well under pressure. Patients often become stressful and fearful due to the nature of procedure, which means phlebotomists have to know how to calm down patients in order to complete the procedure properly.
Phlebotomy technicians work in hospitals, medical and diagnostic laboratories, blood donor centers and physician’s offices. Sometimes, in order to collect blood samples from patients that are homebound, phlebotomists travel to different locations. Because some large hospitals or independent laboratories work around the clock, most phlebotomists work full time in daytime, evening and in night shifts, often during weekends and holidays as well. In smaller labs, they may work in shifts. Phlebotomists draw blood from patients for lab testing, either to determine the type of illness a person has or as a routine check of the health problems a patient has, such as cholesterol or diabetes.
They work in a laboratory setting most of the day examining blood samples to collect information a doctor requires. Even though it’s not always necessary for a phlebotomist to check the blood samples, it is obligatory to enter the data in the computer or patient’s medical chart if needed. It is important to treat every patient as if he/she is contagious which requires mandatory use of gloves and mask. Patients vary from those who are old to the youngest ones, which requires phlebotomist’s great skills of communication to make patient feel safe and comfortable.
How to become phlebotomy technician?
Most of the occupations connected to the health care demand years of practice and studying in a school program setting. However, phlebotomy requires much less time to become certified phlebotomy technician. The initial requirement to start phlebotomy training is a high school diploma or its equivalent (GED). After finishing high school, training programs for aspiring phlebotomy technicians are often offered in community colleges. Any phlebotomist acquires necessary knowledge through working experience in approved training program, which leads to certification or licensing. After a student chooses school, it will usually include these training programs along with classroom work. The selected programs connect classroom lessons with laboratory work.
Some of the courses a phlebotomist-to-be will encounter during training program include basic anatomy, biology, medical terminology and physiology. In addition to these courses, other courses connected to health related subjects are a great start to becoming a good phlebotomy technician. Most of them start with nothing but a high school diploma and earn their experience on-the-job.
Preparation and good grades in high school are the best introduction to becoming a phlebotomist. Paying attention to your grades in chemistry and biology during high school study may bring you advantage later on when applying for a phlebotomy occupation. Once you’re done with high school and you got your diploma (or GED), you can start looking for the best training program in the nearest school. This coursework usually lasts for less than a year and provides you with valuable knowledge you have to possess in order to become a phlebotomy technician.
During training program, you will learn basics of phlebotomy, which includes:
After completion of a training program, you may consider becoming certified. Getting a certificate brings you more job opportunities because many employers seek phlebotomists with some kind of certification, even though it’s not mandatory to possess one. In addition, earning various certificates only widens the range of duties you would have as a phlebotomist, therefore increasing your chances of pay raise as well. There are a few certifications you can earn in phlebotomy occupation: Phlebotomy technician, Certified phlebotomy technician, Registered phlebotomy technician and National certified phlebotomy technician. Basic requirements for earning a certificate is a high school diploma or its equivalent, 20 hours of basic phlebotomy classes and certificate of completion from the phlebotomy training program. Once you get certified, you can start searching for the job, or if you already work as a phlebotomist, earn better salary. So, you can either earn a certificate by enrolling in a training program or working as a phlebotomist for 6 months or more. Either way, certificate will get you better job opportunities and better chances of getting hired, not to mention more gained experience and polished skills and qualities. If you’re not afraid of blood and needles, this occupation might suit you best!
All future phlebotomy technicians must obtain a certificate of completion of approved training program. There are many community colleges and technical schools around the US offering high quality phlebotomy training programs. To be allowed to enroll in one such training program, one must submit a high school diploma or its equivalent (GED), medical records which must be up-to-date and in some cases and states, clear police records as well. Also, minimum age of attendance is 18 years old. Although some phlebotomy technicians usually pass the training part on-the-job, most of the times it is required to finish some kind of eligible training program in order to pursue licensing or certification. Each state has different requirements of education, but many demand training programs to be able to begin a phlebotomist career. Before enrolling in a training program, it is recommended that you inform yourself of the school’s program and its accreditation. Gather information about the courses, timeline, length and tuition fees before deciding where to enroll. Consider choosing those programs who provide hands-on training and are accredited by American Society for Clinical Pathology, American Certification Agency, National Center for Competency Testing or the American Medical Technologists.
Once you decide in which school you will enroll in a training program, your phlebotomist career is soon to begin.
Training programs vary in length, so there are some that can last only for a few weeks and those that can take up to one year to complete. Most courses cover main subject connected to phlebotomy and anatomy in general. Some of them include:
- Theory of phlebotomy – the basic knowledge you will gain through this course is to learn everything about the phlebotomy. From history of “bloodletting” to learning about common practices of drawing blood.This course covers techniques of drawing blood, different ways of blood sampling, use of proper equipment and managing transportation, processing, data entry and infection control.
- Anatomy and physiology – through this course, students obtain basic knowledge about human body and systems. Students learn about anatomy with detailed lessons that cover cardiovascular anatomy, physiology of nervous, musculoskeletal and circulatory systems. Blood and cell composition, venipuncture, laboratory safety skills and CPR are also part of this course.
- Medical terminology – all future phlebotomy technicians are opt to know how to use medical terminology. It is important to be able to exchange information between yourself and other member of healthcare team. Recognizing prefixes, root words and suffixes, spelling and proper pronunciation is obligatory knowledge future phlebotomist should have to possess.
- Practicum – in the practical courses, students learn how to draw blood, practice specimen collection and handle blood samples and medical records. Everything a student learned in theory classes will be transferred in real-life scenarios. Practicum courses may be taken at campus-site, in a Medical Center or at off-site laboratories.
During training program, you will learn about handling emergency situations, taking proper steps in avoiding possibility of contamination, avoiding infection and proper laboratory procedures. You will learn about maintaining equipment and ensuring that environment in which you will work, stays clean and sanitary.
Certification and licensing
Once you finish your training program for phlebotomy technician, you will gain a certificate of completion. You will gain experience and knowledge required to begin working as a phlebotomist. Furthermore, you can pursue some kind of certification, which will provide you more job opportunities and better starting salary as well. Through certification, you will confirm and improve the knowledge you gained through a training program. You will be questioned and required to pass various tests and exams in order to gain a certificate. To be able to enroll in a certificate program, certain qualifications must be met.
American Society of Phlebotomy Technicians requires that one must have either :
- one full year of part-time work as a phlebotomist,
- 6 months of full-time work as a phlebotomist,
-successful completion of an accredited training program (must have at least 100 documented successful venipunctures and 5 documented skin punctures) and a current ASPT membership.
American Society of Clinical Pathology offers a few possible ways on how to become certified phlebotomy technician with high school diploma and:
- completion of a NAACLS approved phlebotomy program within the last five years
- completion of an acceptable two-part formal structured phlebotomy program in the U.S. which includes 40 clock hours of classroom training, 100 hours of clinical training and performance of 100 successful blood collections
- one year full-time work experience as a phlebotomy technician in an accredited laboratory
- completion of RN, LPN or other acceptable accredited allied health occupational education with additional 100 successful blood collections
- Medical Technician or Medical Laboratory Scientist certification
- Doctor of Physical Therapy certification with additional 100 successful blood collection
Most of phlebotomy training programs and certification programs require some hands-on training in order to successfully complete given exams. There are some online programs that are accredited for gaining a certificate, but do not offer real-life courses, which are necessary for students to learn how to draw blood and collect high quality blood samples. Online courses are helpful in theoretical sense, but any student that enrolls in such online training programs needs to make sure he/she can find eligible laboratories, hospitals or physician offices to complete the required amount of working hours on field.
Clinical subjects provide studying of human anatomy, physiology and medical terminology which are among the top required ones, and administrative subjects usually cover communication skills and abilities to explain and prepare a patient for the whole procedure. Many community colleges offer great high quality certification training programs that include all major components and subject that are required to become professional phlebotomy technician.
Nearly all courses include:
- correct identification of a patient prior to collecting blood samples,
- collection of the right amount of blood with venipuncture or skin puncture,
- selection of the appropriate vials,
- correct labeling of blood samples,
- transportation of specimens to the laboratory,
- appropriate communication with patients and interaction with other healthcare workers and
- proper data entry into the computer.
So, once you finish a training program, start looking for a school, college or online programs that offer accredited certification courses. It is good to know that phlebotomy certification requires hands-on experience, so try to find the certification program that provides real-life clinical courses along with the theoretical classes. When you pick your best option, it’s important to know and gather all the necessary documentation that is required in order to begin certification program. Once you begin this short-term training and pass the final exam, you will gain phlebotomy technician certificate. This certificate allows you to pursue your phlebotomist career with better chances of getting the job, since many employers favorize aspiring phlebotomy technicians who possess some kind of a certificate or license. Even though it’s not necessary to be certified in most states, consider your certificate a major plus in job seeking because it greatly improves your job curriculum. There are many aspiring phlebotomy technicians who are looking to begin their career in this occupation and the competition is strong. Every employer would like to hire a professional with great work experience and knowledge and what gives them better proof of a high quality phlebotomy technician than the one with successfully finished training program and an accredited certificate?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for 2015 was around $15,21 per hour, $31,630 per year. The highest 10% earned roughly more than $45,190, while the lowest 10% earned less than $22,850. Number of phlebotomy technician jobs in 2014 was 112,700. Payscale.com reports the median hourly wage varies from $10,09 – $17,89.
Of course, just like in many other jobs, there are some major factors which influence your salary as a phlebotomy technician and those are:
- Location – this is one of the most important factors regarding the salary. Even though inside any state there are some minor differences between salary numbers, differences between states are more than obvious. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that top paying states for phlebotomy technicians are District of Columbia with hourly mean wage of $19,41, California with hourly mean wage of $18,73, Massachusetts with hourly mean wage of $18,39 and New York with the wage of $18,32 per hour. Top paying Metropolitan areas for this occupation are all within the state of California, and those include Redding, Vallejo-Fairfield, Oakland-Hayward-Berkeley, Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura nad Stockton-Lodi. All report the annual wage between $43,300 – $47,040. States with the highest employment level are California, Texas, Florida, New York and Illinois.
- Experience – one more factor that influences the salary range is the amount of experience you gained as a phlebotomy technician. Those who are beginning their phlebotomy career are among the lowest paid employees. Entry-level phlebotomy technicians with the work experience up to 5 years earn roughly $26,000 per year, phlebotomy technicians with 5-10 years of experience earn $30,000, phlebotomist with 10-20 years of experience earn about $32,000 and the phlebotomists with more than 20 years of work experience report around $35,000 a year. So,entry-level phlebotomists begin with the hourly wage of $9,75 – $16,04 and the ones in their late career earn about $12,32 – $20,05 per hour.
- Type of Employer – your salary will greatly depend on the type of employer you work for as well. Depending on if you’re working in a hospital, physician’s office, medical laboratory, any of the non-profit institution or other health care facility, your salary will vary. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, median annual wages in the top paying industries for this occupation are:
- Medical and diagnostic laboratories……………………………$33,270
- Physician’s offices……………………………………………………..$30,720
- Ambulatory healthcare services………………………………….$30,510
Some of the top paying employers include insurance companies, hospitals, physician’s offices and laboratories while nursing homes and blood donation centers are among the lowest paying employers.
- Certification – even though we mentioned that certification is not mandatory in order to work as a phlebotomy technician, it certainly affects your salary. Only a small number of states require certification to get hired as a phlebotomist, but other states would take your certificate in consideration when hiring. Also, certificate can bring you higher entry-level paying rate, since it proves you have better skill set and improved knowledge, not to mention better qualities and abilities. In addition, certified phlebotomy technicians at entry-level earn a little bit more than normal entry-level phlebotomist.
So, once you take into consideration some of these major factors that influence the salary of a phlebotomy technician, you can make a career plan based on the best options you choose. Selecting the country with highest paying rates, the best employer with great hourly wages, good amount of experience and accredited certification, will get you a good start in beginning your phlebotomy technician career. Once you progress from beginner to experienced phlebotomist, your salary will start to increase and soon enough you can become part of the top 10% with the highest median wage.
Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the employment of phlebotomy technicians is projected to grow by 25% from 2014 to 2024 which is much faster than the average for all occupations. Since it is important to have professional phlebotomy technicians to perform drawing blood and proper collection of blood samples, industries like hospitals, physician’s offices and medical and diagnostic laboratories constantly search for candidates to hire. Requirement for blood diagnostics and analysis is constantly on the rise, and so are the open jobs for this occupation. For those candidates who possess certificate, job prospects look much brighter. It is projected that another 28,100 open jobs will be available by the 2024.
Metropolitan areas with the highest employment level are New York-Jersey City-White Plains in New York, Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale in California, Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights in illinois, Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land in Texas and Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale in Arizona. States with the highest employment level count California with 12,780 hired phlebotomists, Texas with 8,850 employed, Florida with 7,410 and New York with 5,780 employed phlebotomy technicians. Industries with the highest level of employment for this occupation are: general medical and surgical hospitals, medical and diagnostic laboratories, other ambulatory healthcare services, physician’s offices and other employment services.
If you’re sure you wish to pursue phlebotomy technician career, don’t forget any of the mentioned ways of how to become one, how to find a perfect training program and to get certified, which are the lowest and top paying industries, states and employers and how does a job outlook for this occupation looks like for the future. Once you inform yourself of all the possible choices and options, you can start building your phlebotomy technician career and provide yourself with stable and increasing salary, abundant work experience and the possibility to progress in this occupation or even to a much better paid one. Nevertheless, phlebotomy technician profession is on the rise and the increased job outlook for high quality phlebotomists is not going to stop increasing in near future, so rest assured whenever you decide to begin building up your phlebotomy technician career, it will be the right choice for your future!