Phlebotomists draw blood for tests, transfusions, research, or blood donations. Some of them explain their work to patients and provide assistance if patients have adverse reactions after their blood is drawn.

Duties

Phlebotomists typically do the following:

  • Draw blood from patients and blood donors
  • Talk with patients and donors to help them feel less nervous about having their blood drawn
  • Verify a patient’s or donor’s identity to ensure proper labeling of the blood
  • Label the drawn blood for testing or processing
  • Enter patient information into a database
  • Assemble and maintain medical instruments such as needles, test tubes, and blood vials
  • Keep work areas clean and sanitary

Phlebotomists primarily draw blood, which is then used for different kinds of medical laboratory testing. In medical and diagnostic laboratories, patient interaction is sometimes only with the phlebotomist. Because all blood samples look the same, phlebotomists must carefully identify and label the sample they have drawn and enter it into a database. Some phlebotomists draw blood for other purposes, such as at blood drives where people donate blood. In order to avoid causing infection or other complications, phlebotomists must keep their work area and instruments clean and sanitary.

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Work Environment

Phlebotomists held about 128,300 jobs in 2018. The largest employers of phlebotomists were as follows:

Hospitals; state, local, and private 37%
Medical and diagnostic laboratories 33
All other ambulatory healthcare services                               14
Offices of physicians 7
Outpatient care centers 2

Phlebotomists who collect blood donations sometimes travel to different offices and sites in order to set up mobile donation centers. They also sometimes travel to long-term care centers or patients’ homes.

Injuries and Illnesses

Phlebotomists often stand for long periods, and must be careful when handling blood, needles, and other medical supplies. Injuries may occur if they are not careful with medical equipment.

Work Schedules

Most phlebotomists work full time. Phlebotomists who work in hospitals and labs may need to work nights, weekends, and holidays.

Education and Training

Phlebotomists typically enter the occupation with a postsecondary nondegree award from a phlebotomy program. Almost all employers look for phlebotomists who have earned professional certification.

Education and Training

Phlebotomists typically enter the occupation with a postsecondary nondegree award from a phlebotomy program. Programs are available from community colleges, vocational schools, or technical schools. These programs usually take less than 1 year to complete and lead to a certificate. Certification programs involve classroom sessions and laboratory work, and they include instruction in anatomy, physiology, and medical terminology.

Some phlebotomists enter the occupation with a high school diploma and are trained to be a phlebotomist on the job. No matter their education level, phlebotomists also receive specific instructions on how to identify, label, and track blood samples.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Almost all employers prefer to hire phlebotomists who have earned professional certification.

Several organizations offer certifications for phlebotomists. The National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT), National Healthcareer Association (NHA), the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP), the National Phlebotomy Association, and the American Medical Technologists (AMT) offer Phlebotomy Technician certifications.

Candidates for certification typically need some classroom education, as well as some clinical experience. Certification testing usually includes a written exam and may include practical components, such as drawing blood. Requirements vary by certifying organization. California, Louisiana, Nevada, and Washington require their phlebotomists to be certified.

Personality and Interests

Phlebotomists typically have an interest in the Building, Thinking and Organizing interest areas, according to the Holland Code framework. The Building interest area indicates a focus on working with tools and machines, and making or fixing practical things. The Thinking interest area indicates a focus on researching, investigating, and increasing the understanding of natural laws. The Organizing interest area indicates a focus on working with information and processes to keep things arranged in orderly systems.

If you are not sure whether you have a Building or Thinking or Organizing interest which might fit with a career as a phlebotomist, you can take a career test to measure your interests.

Phlebotomists should also possess the following specific qualities:

Compassion. Some patients or clients are afraid of having their blood drawn, so phlebotomists should show care when they perform their duties.

Detail oriented. Phlebotomists must draw the correct vials of blood for the tests ordered, track vials of blood, and enter data into a database. Attention to detail is necessary; otherwise, the specimens may be misplaced or lost, or a patient may be injured.

Dexterity. Phlebotomists work with their hands, and they must be able to use their equipment efficiently and properly.

Hand-eye coordination. Phlebotomists draw blood from many patients, and they must perform their duties on the first attempt, or their patients will experience discomfort.

Pay

The median annual wage for phlebotomists was $35,510 in May 2019. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $26,000, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $49,750.

In May 2019, the median annual wages for phlebotomists in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Outpatient care centers $41,620
Medical and diagnostic laboratories 37,220
All other ambulatory healthcare services                            34,460
Offices of physicians 34,400
Hospitals; state, local, and private 33,720

Most phlebotomists work full time. Phlebotomists who work in hospitals and labs may need to work nights, weekends, and holidays.

Job Outlook

Employment of phlebotomists is projected to grow 23 percent from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations. Hospitals, diagnostic laboratories, blood donor centers, and other locations will need phlebotomists to perform bloodwork.

Blood analysis remains an essential function in medical laboratories and hospitals. Demand for phlebotomists will remain high as doctors and other healthcare professionals require bloodwork for analysis and diagnosis.

In addition to blood analysis, phlebotomists are necessary for blood collection, either at mobile blood centers or dedicated donation centers. These phlebotomists may be especially busy during a health emergency, which can correspond with heightened interest in blood donations.

Job Prospects

Job prospects are greatest for phlebotomists who receive certification from one of several reputable organizations, such as the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT), National Healthcareer Association (NHA), the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP), the National Phlebotomy Association, and the American Medical Technologists (AMT).

FAQ

Where does this information come from?

The career information above is taken from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook. This excellent resource for occupational data is published by the U.S. Department of Labor every two years. Truity periodically updates our site with information from the BLS database.

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I am not sure if this career is right for me. How can I decide?

There are many excellent tools available that will allow you to measure your interests, profile your personality, and match these traits with appropriate careers. On this site, you can take the Career Personality Profiler assessment, the Holland Code assessment, or the Photo Career Quiz.

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