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How Do I Become a Phlebotomist? Education & Career

How to become a phlebotomist?

If you are interested in pursuing a career in the medical field that allows you to help many people at once, it may be worth exploring becoming a phlebotomist. Phlebotomists, or phlebotomy technicians, often collect blood samples from people for medical or insurance reasons. The role of a phlebotomist in collecting quality samples is important to the diagnosis, treatment, care and health of individuals. In this article, we explore the roles and responsibilities of a phlebotomist and how to become one.

What does a phlebotomist do?

Phlebotomists draw blood for testing, perform blood transfusions, conduct research, and perform or help perform blood donations. Phlebotomy technicians are people who gravitate toward challenge, responsibility, and compassion. They are often needed to explain to patients the reasons for the tests being performed and can provide comfort to worried patients. They must also be precise and thorough in their work, perform well under pressure, and communicate effectively with a range of people.

Typically, phlebotomists are responsible for:

  • Draw blood and bandage after blood draw
  • Measure and record blood pressure, temperature, pulse and oxygen levels
  • Maintain patient records
  • Clean, prepare and sterilize equipment
  • Send blood, urine, and stool samples to the lab for analysis

Average Phlebotomist Salary

The median salary for a phlebotomist is $14.91 per hour, but this figure can vary based on factors such as need, specific job responsibilities, training, level of education, and experience. The location of a phlebotomist can also influence her salary.

How to become a phlebotomist?

Phlebotomists must have basic knowledge of verbal and written communication, as well as math. Although many phlebotomists receive on-the-job training, career paths can vary based on their training and time availability. It can take a year or less to become a phlebotomist, depending on the education program and whether you seek national certification.

The most common steps to become a phlebotomist are:

  1. Complete high school or receive a GED
  2. Enroll in a post-secondary education phlebotomy program
  3. Obtain a Phlebotomy Professional Certification
  4. Secure a job

1. Complete high school or receive a GED
To be accepted into phlebotomy programs, candidates must have a high school diploma or equivalent. If your high school offered phlebotomy programs, you may be able to start a phlebotomy career upon high school graduation.

2. Enroll in a post-secondary education phlebotomy program
The phlebotomy program lasts approximately one year, after which a certificate is obtained. Programs are available through various career technical schools or community colleges and include courses in anatomy, medical terminology, and physiology. They focus on procedures to ensure quality sampling while caring for patients and keeping them safe. The basic information you will need to enroll in this primarily lab-based training may include:

  • Proof of High School Completion or Equivalent: You may have a GED or show your high school diploma.
  • Updated vaccination record: When working in a medical center of any kind, the health of both employees and patients is of the highest priority. Checking your current records prior to any connection with persons who may have compromised immune systems may be necessary to ensure your safety and theirs.
  • Paying for tuition and textbooks: Once accepted into a program, students typically have to pay tuition and fees. These may or may not cover the costs of textbooks and uniform.

3. Obtain a phlebotomy professional certificate
Most companies prefer to hire candidates who have a phlebotomy certification. Certification requirements vary, but most require passing an exam. Once the certification is obtained, the necessary measures must be taken to maintain it. Requirements may vary by certification, but typically include an annual fee and completion of continuing education courses.

Some certifications available are:

  • Phlebotomy Technician: This certification is offered by the American Society for Clinical Pathology and requires a high school diploma and completion of an approved phlebotomy program, one year of on-the-job experience, or related certification. As an applicant, you must pass the certification exam, and it needs to be renewed every three years.
  • Certified Phlebotomy Technician: This certification, offered by the National Association for Healthcare Careers, is earned by passing a 100-question certification exam. It is necessary to renew it every two years.
  • Registered Phlebotomy Technician: This certification is available through the American Medical Technologists. Obtaining it requires a phlebotomy program consisting of 120 course hours or 1,040 hours of on-the-job training and demonstrating a minimum of 50 successful venipunctures and 10 hair punctures. Once you have completed the exam, you must remain a full member and renew it every 3 years.

4. Get a job
There are many different medical centers, such as hospitals, clinics, blood donation institutions, and laboratories, that are in need of phlebotomists. Once you land a position, you’ll likely receive some more on-the-job training to get you acclimated to the rules, procedures, and regulations where you work.

Frequent questions

These are some of the most common questions that can be asked when considering a career as a phlebotomist.

How long is phlebotomy certification?

The training is usually of short duration, one to two semesters or four to eight months, depending on the program and the intuition you attend. You will be prepared to work with patients and with the necessary medical equipment and tools in a variety of settings.

What are the skills of a phlebotomist?

Qualified phlebotomists are skilled at data entry, pay great attention to detail, have good motor skills with the ability to focus on multiple topics and projects at once, are excellent at communicating with people from diverse backgrounds, and display a strong sense of empathy towards those experiencing difficulties in life.

Does Phlebotomy Certification Expire?

Phlebotomy certifications expire every one to four years and will need to be renewed periodically to remain fit to practice.

Can I get a job with just a phlebotomy certificate?

Depending on the state you work in, you may need to obtain a license to work as a phlebotomist in settings such as hospitals, individual practices, or clinics.

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