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Phlebotomist: Overview of Phlebotomy Career Education

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a phlebotomist. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training and job duties to find out if this is the career for you.

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A phlebotomist certificate program is the common requirement for the profession. These programs prepare graduates for state licensing exams in phlebotomy through blood-drawing practice sessions and classroom lectures.

Essential Information

Phlebotomists are medical laboratory technicians who specialize in blood work. They take human blood samples and prepare tests to check for diseases, bacterial growth, cholesterol and other health problems. Phlebotomists work under the supervision of physicians and pathologists. Many phlebotomists work in medical laboratories, but others work in hospitals or private practice offices. Some postsecondary education is required for this job, but phlebotomy programs usually only take one year.

Required Education Certificate or diploma
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 25%
Median Salary (2015)* $31,630

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Overview

Phlebotomists obtain samples of patients' blood and prepare the samples for medical tests. They secure blood samples through various methods, such as pricking the finger or using needles to take blood directly from a patient's vein. Beyond prepping the blood-collecting equipment, their duties also involve verifying a patient's medical records. Phlebotomists will store the samples and run them to the labs for testing. Some phlebotomists may collect from and screen donors at blood banks.

Employment Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicated that from 2014-2024, open positions for phlebotomists were expected to increase by 25%. Many job openings were anticipated to be found in medical research facilities or medical testing laboratories. Hospitals and private physicians offices would also need phlebotomists. The median annual salary for phlebotomists was $31,630, according to May 2015 BLS data.

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Education Requirements

While some phlebotomists hold diplomas, individuals generally complete phlebotomist certificate programs to be eligible for state-licensing exams. Each state has different educational requirements for phlebotomists, but many require students to complete training programs specific to the career. Students can acquire clinical experience, which allows them to practice their blood-drawing skills. Applicants will need to have a high school diploma or equivalent.

Curriculum

Phlebotomist training programs cover information about patient care, anatomy, disease control and medical-testing equipment. Students will learn how to comfort nervous patients and how to recognize if a patient is about to faint. Students are also trained on the different types of needles used for gathering blood, proper needle insertion and puncture-wound treatment.

Licensing Requirements

According to American Medical Technologists, not all states require phlebotomists to get licensed or certified. Employers may prefer to hire applicants who've passed national certification exams. States that do require licensure may require aspiring phlebotomists to pass exams administered by credentialing agencies, such as the American Society for Clinical Pathology. Other states administer their own exams and have additional requirements for obtaining a phlebotomist license. Most licensing exams cover questions about laboratory procedures, specimen collection, blood-sample handling and safety protocols.

Phlebotomists specialize in blood work. Their training covers the proper procedure for inserting a needle, gathering blood, and how to treat puncture wounds. They also learn about patient care and how to comfort nervous patients and recognize when a patient is about to faint.

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