In a phlebotomy certificate program, students learn how to obtain blood samples from patients so that they can be screened and examined for diagnostic or donation purposes. Communication skills are stressed so that students learn how to create a relaxed and comfortable environment for the patient while collecting the specimen in a safe, timely and skillful manner. Earning a certificate in phlebotomy can take from a few weeks to a year, depending on the number of courses a program offers in addition to phlebotomy-related courses. While some of the courses can be completed online, most are only available in-person.
Phlebotomy Technician Certificate
Generally, a student must have earned a high school diploma or GED in order to enroll in a phlebotomy training program. In some cases, applicants must have achieved a certain minimum GPA in high school. A placement test may also be required. Before being admitted to the clinical training portion of the program, students may be required to submit to a criminal background check, drug and HIV testing, as well as a physical examination, which includes an evaluation of mental and emotional status. Tuberculosis and hepatitis B vaccinations might be necessary, and students may also be required to purchase liability insurance.
All phlebotomy programs feature a clinical requirement. In many cases, students must complete 240 hours of hands-on practical training at an approved clinical site, such as a hospital, clinic or physician's office. During this time, students must perform 50 venipunctures and five finger sticks while under supervision. Although some programs include subjects such as composition, algebra and public speaking, most courses are geared toward various aspects of health care related to phlebotomy procedures. These include:
- Age-dictated phlebotomy techniques
- Capillary puncture
- Point of care instruments
- Specimen processing
- Infection control
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Phlebotomists find employment in a variety of patient-care facilities, such as hospitals, clinics, urgent care centers, home health care agencies, laboratories and physicians' offices. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov) projects that employment opportunities for phlebotomists will increase 25% in the period from 2014-2024. In May 2015, the BLS reported that these workers had a mean annual wage of $32,770.
Some students use their certificate in phlebotomy as preparation to enter into a program that leads to an associate's degree or even a bachelor's degree. Further education provides inroads to career advancement in clinical laboratory science or an allied health field; supervisory positions may also be possible.
Most phlebotomy technicians become certified, registered or licensed. In some states, the designation is a requirement in order to practice. In other states, although voluntary, certification is highly recommended. Depending on the agency and the state, certification must be renewed every 1-3 years.
There are a number of nationally recognized certifying organizations for phlebotomy. One of the better known is the certification board of the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP). The ASCP administers an examination that consists of written and practical sections, which leads to designation as a Certified Phlebotomy Technician (PBT).
Aspiring phlebotomists typically complete short certificate programs that cover different blood-drawing techniques, as well as basic computer and communication skills. Graduates are prepared for entry-level work in the field, as well as certification, which is typically preferred or required. Between 2014 and 2024, phlebotomists can look forward to faster-than-average employment growth.