Phlebotomist

In order to properly diagnose and treat a patient, doctors often order lab tests. When a patient visits a lab they are attended to by a phlebotomist, whose job it is to draw their blood in the correct amount and into the right containers, label it, and make sure it gets transported appropriately for testing.

Labs aren’t the only place phlebotomists work. They work in blood banks drawing blood for donations, they also can work for life insurance companies to perform blood draws for testing, and long term care facilities helping doctors monitor patient’s well being.

Education requirements for phlebotomists vary and professionals entering the field can choose to complete on the job training or a course with clinical practice. Either path provides avenues for national certification from any number of organizations one the relevant work experience has been completed. Students pursuing a phlebotomy program should make sure the program is accredited by a regional or national accrediting body such as the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS).

Careers in phlebotomy are growing very quickly with an expected over 20,000 new jobs created nationally between 2018 and 2028, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Professionals in this field earn an average of $35,560 per year.

Keep reading to learn more about phlebotomy including licensing options, typical job duties, and top schools offering phlebotomy programs.

Phlebotomist Specializations & Degree Types

Formal training is not required to become a phlebotomist. Aspiring phlebotomists can complete on-th- job training or complete a certification program offered at numerous programs across the country. Upon completing requisite work experience or a phlebotomy course, students can apply for certification as a phlebotomy technician at one of the three certifying agencies.

Admissions Requirements for Phlebotomist Programs

To be admitted to a phlebotomist program, prospective students generally will need to have completed high school or obtained a GED, although there are exceptions. Many programs require attending a mandatory in-person orientation prior to submitting an application. To be eligible for admission students will need to supply proof of CPR certification, a recent TB test result, and immunization records. Some programs also require a medical check-up.

Phlebotomist Program Accreditation

The National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS) accredits phlebotomist programs. The NAACLS is accredited by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), a national organization that monitors and certifies accrediting bodies.

On-Campus Phlebotomist Degree Programs

Moraine Valley Community College

Students can earn a phlebotomy technician certificate at Moraine Valley Community College in just two semesters. This program trains students in all the technical and clinical aspects of collecting specimens and transporting samples. Upon completing the lecture course, students may enroll in the clinical seminar and clinical experience.

Moraine Valley boasts an outstanding 98 percent student pass rate of the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) phlebotomy technician exam within three years of graduation. Admission requirements for this program include a high school diploma or GED and a prerequisite course in medical terminology. There are additional requirements to be able to complete the clinical practice, which include passing a drug test, proof of current immunizations, a recent TB test result, CPR training, and a background check.

  • Location: Tinley Park, IL
  • Duration: Two semesters
  • Accreditation: National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS)
  • Tuition: $361 per credit-hour

Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College

In addition to learning how to collect specimens and maintain patient data, students in the phlebotomy technician program at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College are required to develop strong communication skills. Graduates of this program are employed at hospitals, clinics, and labs.

This program is in high demand and spots are limited so students must contact an academic advisor prior to submitting an application. The practicum course may be taken concurrently with the lecture course so students can complete all 12 required credits in just one semester. Students should expect to attend classes four days a week and supervised clinical practice three to four days per week.

  • Location: Asheville, NC
  • Duration: One semester
  • Accreditation: National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS)
  • Tuition: $4,288 total

Online & Hybrid Phlebotomist Degree Programs

Alvin Community College

While the hands-on clinical component of phlebotomy programs make 100 percent online program not feasible, Alvin Community College offers a hybrid program that allows students to complete the classroom components online and at their own pace. Students are required to visit campus four times over the course of the semester for labs to learn to do venipuncture and clinical hours must be completed in a clinic or hospital.

As part of this program, students learn how to collect specimens, use vacuum collection devices, select a syringe, label and transport specimens, as well as relevant medical terminology. For admission, students need to have a high school diploma or GED, pass a background check, provide proof of immunizations, and have current CPR certification.

  • Location: Alvin, TX
  • Duration: Two semesters
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Tuition: $820 per class

South Central College

The hybrid phlebotomy technician program at South Central College combines online learning with face-to-face labs. Some courses require that students visit campus once a week while other courses are completely online. The internship class comprises 100 supervised clinical hours at an affiliated hospital or clinic.

Students are able to complete all 16 required credits in just one semester. Courses include medical terminology, interpersonal communication, and phlebotomy skills. The hybrid format affords students the flexibility to work as they complete this intensive program.

  • Location: North Mankato, MN
  • Duration: One semester
  • Accreditation: National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS)
  • Tuition: $219.87 per credit-hour

How Long Does it Take to Become a Phlebotomist?

Post high school graduation it can take as little as eight weeks to complete a phlebotomy course and begin entry-level work. Most certification programs require at least one year of work experience in order to be eligible.

How To Become a Phlebotomist – Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1: Graduate from High School or Complete a GED (Four Years)

Phlebotomy programs require that students have completed high school or obtain a GED. Completing high school demonstrates dedication to completing a program as well as proof of having a minimum level of education. Students who wish to pursue a career in phlebotomy should take courses in health, science, and math to prepare them for further studies.

Step 2a: Complete a Phlebotomy Technician Program (Eight Weeks to Six Months)

Upon graduating from high school or obtaining a GED, students may enroll directly into a phlebotomy technician program. These courses take anywhere from eight week up to six months of study depending on the intensity of the course and the classes required. Students should select a program that has been regionally accredited or accredited by the NAACLS as this guarantees a high standard of education.

Step 2b: Obtain Entry-Level Work (Timelines Vary)

In lieu of attending a phlebotomy technician program, students may obtain a job as a phlebotomist in all but four states and gain on the job training. There are numerous employers who will hire without work experience, although certification is generally preferred.

Step 3: Acquire Work Experience (One Year)

All phlebotomist certifying bodies require proof of work experience, regardless of if a certificate or degree program was completed. Requirements for those without certificates are higher and prospective applicants should verify requirements with their certifying agency. Generally, at least one year of work experience is required.

Step 4: Apply for National Certification (Timelines Vary)

Once the required work experience has been obtained, a phlebotomist may apply for national certification at one of the top three national certification organizations. The top certification programs require testing, proof of work experience, and continuing education to maintain certification. See the certification section below for detailed information on credentialing.

What Do Phlebotomists Do?

Phlebotomists are an essential part of any healthcare team. They are typically overseen by other medical professionals in the clinic, hospital, and lab. Typical job duties include:

  • Drawing a patient’s blood
  • Verifying patient identity to ensure proper labeling
  • Reading and following orders on how much blood to draw and how to prepare it for testing
  • Label blood for testing
  • Soothing patients’ worries over the procedure
  • Entering patient information in charts or on a computer
  • Maintaining a tidy workspace including restocking necessary tools, syringes, vials, tests tubes, and bandages

Phlebotomist Certifications & Licensure

There are three top phlebotomist certifying boards. They are:

  • American Medical Technologists (AMT)
  • National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT)
  • American Society for Clinical Pathology Board of Certification (ASCP-BOC)

While there are other licensing boards, these three have been recognized by the Center for Phlebotomy Education as being the best because they require on the job experience, testing, and continuing education.

Licensure is currently only required in Louisiana, California, Washington, and Nevada. Requirements vary by state but all include at least a certificate. Also, Washington requires phlebotomists to be certified medical assistants.

How Much Do Phlebotomists Make?

Phlebotomists make on average $35,560 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2019). The top 90 percent of earners make $49,060 (or more) per year while the bottom 10 percent earn $25,020 (or less).

Kimmy Gustafson

Kimmy Gustafson

Writer

Kimmy is a freelance writer with extensive experience writing about healthcare careers and education. She has worked in public health, at health-focused nonprofits, and as a Spanish interpreter for doctor’s offices and hospitals. She has a passion for learning and that drives her to stay up to date on the latest trends in healthcare. When not writing or researching, she can be found pursuing her passions of nutrition and an active outdoors lifestyle.

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