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Difference Between Phlebotomist & Lab Technician

Phlebotomists and lab technicians have similar jobs, since both involve working in a lab and dealing with patient samples, although they perform different daily tasks. Find out more information about these similar yet different careers.

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Comparing Phlebotomists to Lab Technicians

Phlebotomists and lab technicians usually work in hospitals or laboratories to take samples from patients. Their work is very similar; however, phlebotomists work only with blood while lab technicians usually work with different bodily fluids, including blood. Below you will find out about the similarities and differences between these two medical and clinical careers.

Job Title Education Requirements Median Salary (2016)* Job Growth (2014-2024)*
Phlebotomist Postsecondary certificate or diploma $32,710 25%
Lab Technician Associate's degree or postsecondary certificate $38,950 (for all medical and clinical laboratory technicians) 18% (for all medical and clinical laboratory technicians)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Responsibilities of Phlebotomists vs. Lab Technicians

Both phlebotomists and lab technicians collect bodily fluids from patients. However, phlebotomists take only blood samples and perform more clerical tasks such as printing orders and storing supplies. Many phlebotomists work for mobile blood donation centers, so they may have to travel to different sites. Lab technicians, on the other hand, help lab technologists collect samples and run tests in a laboratory. They are usually on their feet for most of the work day.

Phlebotomist

Phlebotomists are trained to draw blood from patients, and they also calm nervous patients before putting needles in their arms. After collecting a blood sample, a phlebotomist must verify the patient's identity to make sure they put the correct label on each sample. They then must store the blood properly and put all of the patient's information into a database. Phlebotomists may be the only medical professional that a patient sees if they are visiting a lab. Phlebotomists may work in hospitals, doctors' offices, mobile collection sites, or independent labs. If the facility where they work is open all the time, like a hospital, they may have to work nights and weekends.

Job responsibilities of a Phlebotomist include:

  • Gathering all medical instruments before drawing blood
  • Maintaining sanitary space and tools to prevent infection
  • Minimizing the number of draws and resticks
  • Cleaning the room where blood drawing takes place

Lab Technician

Lab technicians take samples from patients, usually bodily fluids like urine, tissue, or blood. After taking a sample, a lab technician delivers it to the lab where they work with lab technologists to analyze it. Lab technicians usually perform tests that are less complicated, such as using machines that are either fully or mostly automated. These tests determine things like how many cells are present in a sample, or blood type. Lab technicians are on their feet most of the work day, and sometimes they have to lift heavy patients to get samples. They usually work normal full-time hours, but if they work in a hospital or lab that is open 24 hours, they may work at odd hours.

Job responsibilities of a Lab Technician include:

  • Recording data and clinical results in patient records
  • Keeping up with abnormal findings
  • Using equipment that can perform many tasks at once
  • Getting trained by lab technologists

Related Careers

If you're fascinated by what a phlebotomist does, you might also look into what nurses do, since both jobs involve working with patients. Someone who likes what a lab technician does might consider becoming a certified x-ray technician because both jobs require using equipment to obtain results in healthcare.

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