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Phlebotomists are trained professionals who draw blood from patients (or blood donors) under the supervision of a licensed physician or supervising medical practitioner. Some phlebotomists draw blood for laboratory testing. Other phlebotomists work with blood banks to collect whole blood and plasma to be used for transfusions in surgeries.

Day in the Life of a Phlebotomist

Phlebotomists follow a well-established set of medical protocols to ensure each patient receives safe care and attention. On a typical day, a phlebotomist will:

  • Draw blood from the veins or capillaries of patients and blood donors
  • Help patients and donors feel less anxious when having their blood drawn
  • Verify that a patient's or donor's identity matches the labeling on each vial of blood
  • Compare laboratory requisition forms to the labeling on each specimen
  • Complete labeling the drawn blood for testing or processing according to protocols
  • Enter and verify patient information in computer systems
  • Assemble appropriate medical instruments such as needles, test tubes and blood vials
  • Dispose of used needles and other biohazardous fluids and tissues according to applicable laws and policies
  • Maintain a clean and sanitary work environment

Phlebotomists work in a wide variety of environments, such as:

  • Hospitals
  • Laboratories
  • Blood banks
  • Medical clinics
  • Assisted living health care facilities
  • Hospice centers
  • Research labs
  • Public health clinics
  • Long-term care centers
  • Patients' homes

Those who collect blood donations sometimes travel to different locations, such as offices or other types of sites, to set up mobile donation centers.

Most phlebotomists work in a full-time capacity. And because some of the facilities in which they work operate on a 24/7 basis, phlebotomists who are employed in hospitals, for example, may be required to work nights, weekends and holidays.

Important Characteristics for Phlebotomists

To be successful, phlebotomists need to manage the process of collecting blood safely for each patient, and certain characteristics are valuable to help them meet this goal. They are:

  • Compassion and sensitivity toward patients, especially those who are uncomfortable having blood drawn or answering personal questions about one's sexual history
  • An aptitude for the physical sciences
  • The ability to stay calm and undisturbed at the sight of blood
  • Awareness of how to communicate with patients, physicians and other health care workers
  • Competence using computer equipment and software
  • A detail-oriented mindset that allows them to process specimens and maintain records accurately
  • The physical stamina to stand for long periods when required

Typical Steps for Becoming a Phlebotomist

The path to this career begins with getting a phlebotomist's education, followed by certification. The typical steps are as follows:

1) Graduate from high school with a diploma. Some phlebotomists may be able to start their career through on-the-job training, and having a high school diploma in hand is a good first step.

2) Earn a postsecondary nondegree award. Most phlebotomists enter the occupation having completed postsecondary education from a phlebotomy program. Phlebotomist training programs usually take less than one year to complete and are available at community colleges, vocational schools or technical schools. Phlebotomy courses include laboratory work and classes in anatomy, physiology and medical terminology.

Look for phlebotomist's schools accredited by one or more of the following organizations:

  • National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences
  • Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs
  • Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools
  • National Phlebotomy Association

Make sure the school's accreditation status matches your state's health department or occupational board requirements.

3) Become certified as a phlebotomy technician. After completing phlebotomy training and courses — including classroom education and clinical experience — apply for certification. Almost all employers look for phlebotomists who have earned professional certification. Certification is required by these states: California, Louisiana, Nevada and Washington.

These organizations offer certifications for phlebotomists:

  • American Medical Technologists (AMT)
  • American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP)
  • National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT)
  • National Healthcareer Association (NHA)

Sources:

  • Phlebotomist, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/phlebotomists.htm
  • Summary Report for Phlebotomist, O*NET OnLine, https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/31-9097.00

Phlebotomist Education Overview and Career Guide Skills

Below are the skills needed to be phlebotomist education overview and career guide according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 7 being highest).

   
Skill NameImportanceCompetence
Service Orientation3.53
Social Perceptiveness3.53
Active Listening3.53.38
Speaking3.383.62
Critical Thinking3.253.38

Phlebotomist Education Overview and Career Guide Abilities

Below are the abilities needed to be phlebotomist education overview and career guide according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 7 being highest).

   
Ability NameImportanceCompetence
Near Vision3.883.88
Problem Sensitivity3.753.25
Deductive Reasoning3.53.25
Arm-Hand Steadiness3.53.62
Speech Recognition3.383

Phlebotomist Education Overview and Career Guide Knowledge

Below are the knowledge areas needed to be phlebotomist education overview and career guide according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 7 being highest).

   
Knowledge AreaImportanceCompetence
Customer and Personal Service4.675.05
English Language4.253.75
Clerical3.94.05
Education and Training3.754.3
Public Safety and Security3.432.9

Phlebotomist Education Overview and Career Guide Work activities

Below are the work activities involved in being phlebotomist education overview and career guide according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest).

   
Work ActivityImportanceCompetence
Assisting and Caring for Others4.55.2
Getting Information4.433.52
Interacting With Computers4.293.81
Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge4.25
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates4.14.1

Phlebotomist Education Overview and Career Guide Work styles

Below are the work styles involved in being phlebotomist education overview and career guide according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest).

   
Work StyleImportance
Integrity4.85
Attention to Detail4.85
Stress Tolerance4.8
Dependability4.8
Concern for Others4.75

Metro Areas Sorted by Total Employment for
Phlebotomist Education Overview and Career Guide

Listed below are the 10 largest metro areas based on the total number of people employed in Phlebotomist Education Overview and Career Guide jobs , as of 2017

   
Metro AreaTotal EmploymentAnnual Mean Salary
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim5,470$41,130
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington3,060$31,830
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach2,260$29,570
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell1,920$32,880
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land1,720$33,350
Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater1,490$30,690
Baltimore-Columbia-Towson1,360$37,680
Cleveland-Elyria1,340$33,340
San Diego-Carlsbad1,320$40,150
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue1,160$37,860

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Total employment and salary for professions similar to phlebotomists

Source : 2016 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2016-26 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov; O*NET® 22.1 Database, O*NET OnLine, National Center for O*NET Development, Employment & Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, onetonline.org

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