The demand for phlebotomists is soaring in the United States. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 22% of job growth for phlebotomists by 2030, which is a greater average than other health professions.
If you want to jumpstart your career as a phlebotomist, there’s never been a better time to enroll in a training program than now. If you have prior medical experience, you can enroll yourself in an accelerated phlebotomy training program. Read further to learn more.
Image from Flickr by Tri Nguyen
Overview of Phlebotomy Career
- Job Scope: The work of phlebotomists includes drawing blood from patients for diagnostic purposes, blood transfusions, research, or blood donations.
- Work opportunities: Phlebotomists can work in hospitals, clinics, diagnostic laboratories, blood donation centers, and doctor’s offices.
- Educational and certification requirements: A postsecondary non-degree award and finished an accredited phlebotomy program. Most employers prefer hiring phlebotomists with certification.
- Pay: As of May 2021, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for phlebotomists is $37,380.
What is a phlebotomist and what do they do?
Before you enroll in an accelerated phlebotomy program, of course, want to know more about what a phlebotomist is and what they do. The work of a phlebotomist entails drawing blood or taking blood samples from patients.
The blood samples are either needed for medical testing, for instance, blood culture tests or blood typing. Also, phlebotomists are responsible for drawing blood for blood donations. Phlebotomists play an important role in the healthcare industry.
Image from Wikimedia commons by the University of Delaware, Department of Medical Technology
What is an accelerated phlebotomy program?
An accelerated phlebotomy program is intended for students or professionals who have prior relevant experience and education in the healthcare industry. For instance, if you’re a Certified Nursing Assistant, you can enroll in an accelerated phlebotomy program for a shorter period compared to the full program available for those with no medical background.
Phlebotomy programs may last between one to three months. But an accelerated phlebotomy program for students and medical professionals (like lab technicians or CNAs) with health care training may be shorter. Thanks to your prior medical training, relevant clinical experience, and education, you may enroll in an accelerated phlebotomy training program much faster.
How long does it take to become a phlebotomist?
Becoming a phlebotomist may take anywhere between 4 to 18 months. This includes classroom instruction, clinical hours, and passing certification exams. But if you have the experience and education in the medical field, through the accelerated phlebotomy program, becoming a phlebotomist may be accomplished in a shorter period.
Depending on the phlebotomy training course and school that you chose, also, as your prior medical experience and education here is the sample timeline for becoming a phlebotomist:
- Classroom course: Two-thirds of the whole phlebotomy program
- Practicum training hours: One-third of the whole phlebotomy program
- Certification (may vary from state to state): 20 to 40 hours for coursework certification. State exams may require certification, an advanced training program, and perform the required number of skin punctures, venipunctures, and arterial punctures.
For instance, in the state of California, to become a Certified Phlebotomy Technician 1 (CPT 1) or Certified Phlebotomy Technician 2 (CPT 2), 10 skin punctures, 20 arterial punctures, and 50 venipunctures are required.
Medical technicians or other medical professionals who want to enroll in accelerated phlebotomy training courses may start to work as phlebotomists in less than a year.
Image from Pixnio by Amanda Mills, USCDCP
How to become a phlebotomist?
So are you ready to become a phlebotomist? This fulfilling career and well-paying job is an essential member of the health care team. So before you enroll in a phlebotomy training program, here is what you should know:
Step 1: High School Diploma or GED
Phlebotomy programs require a high school diploma or passing your GED. Aspiring phlebotomists who have taken health and clinical laboratory sciences in high school have the edge through their knowledge when pursuing this career. In other words, taking courses where you can learn medical terminology can help.
Depending on the school you want to enroll in, a minimum GPA may be required before you can enroll in a phlebotomy program. Aside from this, other requirements for enrollment may also include a background check, your immunization records, and Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) certification.
Step 2: Completion of an Accredited Phlebotomy Program
If you have your high school diploma, or passed your GED and have met the minimum GPA requirements of the school you want to enroll in, make sure to choose an Accredited Phlebotomy Program recognized by a national accrediting agency.
You can enroll in vocational schools or community colleges. Online phlebotomy programs are available as well. The completion of an accredited phlebotomy program may take between 4 to 18 months. For accelerated phlebotomy programs, it may be shorter. Upon completion of an accredited phlebotomy program, you are awarded a certificate or diploma.
Step 3: Pass a Phlebotomy Certification Exam
Let’s get this clear, certification for phlebotomists may vary from state to state. Not all states across the U.S. require certification, however having a certification always increases your chances of getting hired. Consider it as having a powerful resume.
States that require a phlebotomy certificate are Washington, California, Nevada, and Louisiana. Having said this, you should know the eligibility requirements to take a certification exam. These requirements may vary from one testing agency to another.
To give you an idea, the 1st and 2nd steps are the requirements needed for eligibility to take a phlebotomist certification exam. In a summary, the requirements to take certifications are:
- High school diploma or GED
- Completing an accredited phlebotomy program
- Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) certification
- Hands-on-training or clinical training
There are several testing agencies you can choose from when obtaining a phlebotomy certification. Each testing agency may have different requirements. However, the list mentioned above is the most common requirement. To give you an idea, here are the testing agencies to consider if you seek certification:
- American Medical Technologists (AMT)
- American Medical Certification Association (AMCA)
- American Certification Agency for Healthcare Professionals (ACA)
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
- National Phlebotomy Association (NSA)
- National Credentialing Agency (NCA)
- The American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP)
- The National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT/MMCI)
The test format and fees for each testing agency may differ. The fees may vary from $58 to $200. For instance, the National Center for Competency Testing comprises 150 questions that could be finished in three hours. 125 of these questions are scored, while 25 questions are unscored pretest items.
Step 4: Maintain Certification Program Annually
Maintaining certification programs annually will vary depending on the institution you’re working as a phlebotomist. However, the typical requirements to maintain a certification program may require an annual fee and continuing education credits.
Maintaining an annual professional certification program demonstrates your dedication to maintaining the highest expected standards of the profession. Also, to be updated on the latest practices on the field. The ongoing training can be obtained from a third-party agency.
How much do phlebotomy schools cost?
Based on national data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary, the cost of phlebotomy schools may range between $700 to $3,000 depending on the school or if you have enrolled in an accelerated phlebotomy program.
Those qualified to attend the accelerated phlebotomy program may pay less as they don’t have to take other courses they have finished in their previous schooling.
In addition to the tuition fees, you also have to consider other costs like uniforms, textbooks, transportation costs, and more. Then, if you decide to pursue certification, prepare between $90 to $200. Additionally, state licensing through a competency exam may cost between $58 to $200.
Where do phlebotomists work?
After you’ve finished your training programs and earned certification, your next step is to find a job. To give you an idea, as a phlebotomist, you may apply at
- Physician offices
- Diagnostic laboratories
- Blood banks
- Outpatient care centers
Other than that, you may apply or volunteer in medical outreach programs that organize blood donation drives. Phlebotomists may also need to do home visits if they work in a diagnostic laboratory that offers home services.
Image by Michelle Gordon from Pixabay
How much do phlebotomists earn?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for phlebotomists is $37,380. This is an average of $17.97 per hour. To give you an idea, here are the top-paying states for phlebotomists:
|Hourly mean wage
|Annual mean wage
|District of Columbia
Source: Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2019 by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Are phlebotomists required to be licensed or certified?
No, not all phlebotomists are required to have licensing and certification. Certification and licensing depend on the state where you want to work. There are only four states in the U.S. that require certification or licensing to be eligible to apply for a job. These states are Washington, California, Nevada, and Louisiana.
Each state has different requirements for certification. California, being the highest-paying state for phlebotomists, has three levels of certifications. Let’s cut to the chase and learn about the licensing and certification requirements of each state:
- Level 1: Limited Phlebotomy Technician that requires completing 20 hours of a California-approved phlebotomy program. 25 successful skin punctures are needed to obtain this level. This level only authorized a phlebotomist to draw blood through a skin puncture.
- Level 2: Certified Phlebotomy Technician 1 (CPT 1) is a certification program that requires 20 hours of a state-approved program, 40 hours of clinical training, 50 successful venipunctures, and 10 skin punctures. At this level, you are allowed to draw blood from the vein and through a skin puncture.
- Level 3: Certified Phlebotomy Technician 2 (CPT 2) is a certification that requires a CPT1 certification, 20 hours of advanced training, 50 venipunctures, 20 arterial punctures, and 10 skin punctures. Passing this certification allows a phlebotomist to draw blood from the artery, vein, or through a skin puncture.
In the state of Washington, an aspiring phlebotomist needs to submit an application certification to the Washington State Department of Health. The requirements include proof of finishing phlebotomy education from an accredited institution and at least seven hours of Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) training.
Additionally, a criminal and professional background check is required. In the state of Washington, phlebotomists may need to renew the certification every two years.
In the state of Louisiana, licensure, and certification is required to work as a phlebotomist. Proof of education, certification, a valid CPR certificate, and a criminal background check must be submitted to the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners.
Louisiana accepts certification from (you can choose from one of these agencies):
- American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP): Phlebotomy Technician (PBT)
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA): Certified Phlebotomy Technician (CPT)
- American Medical Technologists (AMT): Registered Phlebotomy Technician (RPT)
In Nevada, to practice as a phlebotomist, you’ll need a license for lab assistant. This certification may be earned from one of the agencies mentioned above.
When applying for a job as a phlebotomist, you want to increase your chances of getting hired. So it wouldn’t hurt to take additional certifications. You can avail of one of these additional certifications:
- Certified Phlebotomist Technologist from the National Phlebotomy Association
- American Society of Phlebotomy Technicians Certification
- National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT) Phlebotomy Certification
Image from Flickr by Navy Medicine
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the most a phlebotomist can make in an hour?
The highest hourly rate paid for a phlebotomist is $27.37, in San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA. San Jose is on top of the list of the top-paying metropolitan areas in the U.S. This is the data according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2021.
What state has the highest-paid phlebotomist?
The state with the highest-paid phlebotomist is California. The hourly mean wage in California is $23.11, and the mean annual wage is $48,070. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA is the top-paying metropolitan area for phlebotomists.
How much does phlebotomy school cost in California?
The average cost of phlebotomy schools in California range from $1,000 to $3,000. As for other states in the U.S. phlebotomy schools may cost between $700 to $1,000.
Is a phlebotomy tech the same as a phlebotomist?
A phlebotomy technician and phlebotomist are the same. Phlebotomists are also called phlebotomy technicians. Phlebotomists draw blood or collect blood for diagnosing purposes.
That’s everything you need to know on how to become a phlebotomist. If you want to be a part of the medical team, you can enroll in an accelerated phlebotomy program to fast-track your career as a phlebotomist.
Become a phlebotomist today and let NurseGroups help you find the schools near you or online. In NurseGroups, you can find the schools or programs by state. Additionally, get pertinent information and can request enrollment information.