Phlebotomy Therapist Careers: Job Description & Salary Information

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Get the truth about a phlebotomy therapist's salary, training requirements and career prospects. Read the job description and see the pros and cons of becoming a phlebotomy therapist.
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A Career in Phlebotomy: Pros and Cons

A phlebotomy therapist, more commonly known as a phlebotomy technician or phlebotomist, collects blood specimens for testing or larger quantities of blood for transfusions. To determine if becoming a phlebotomist is right for you, check out the pros and cons in the table below.

Pros of a Phlebotomist Career
Minimal training requirements (high school diploma and accredited training program)*
Large number of job openings and available shifts*
Many employment options (hospitals, physician's offices, outpatient clinics, independent labs)**
Full-time work available**

Cons of a Phlebotomist Career
Lower than average wages ($31,242 median wages as of March 2015)***
May require irregular hours (evening, night and weekend schedules)**
Requires strict attention to detail/regulations (necessary to prevent exposure to infectious agents)**
Physically demanding (long hours on your feet, ability to handle small tools with precision)**

Sources: *American Medical Technologists, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), ***Salary.com

Career Information

Job Description

Phlebotomy technicians collect blood samples from patients using multiple techniques. Puncturing a vein with the needle - in the inside of the elbow for example - is called venipuncture. Phlebotomists also use other microcollection techniques, such as the fingerstick method, to collect specimens.

Following medical lab protocols and regulations are vital in this job to avoid exposure to hazardous bodily fluids. Phlebotomists prepare the equipment used for collection and must safely transport the samples within the lab. In addition to their clinical duties, they may be assigned clerical tasks, including data entry.

The majority of phlebotomists within the medical lab technology field work in hospitals, although opportunities in independent labs, outpatient facilities and physician's offices are also available. Regardless of where a phlebotomist works, an important part of the job is calming nervous patients who aren't exactly thrilled about having a needle stuck into their body.

Salary and Career Outlook

According to 2013 findings from the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP), phlebotomy techs averaged an hourly rate of $13.41 to $24.78 which mostly depended on the work environment (the lowest being small hospitals and the highest being labs at doctors' clinics). The average annual salary for staff-level phlebotomists was $32,448 at that time, per the ASCP. Additionally, Salary.com stated that the majority of phlebotomists' wages ranged from about $25,229-$37,868 in March 2015.

The American Medical Technologists, a certification body in the field, reports that phlebotomists can expect favorable job opportunities due to medical facilities needing to fill vacancies for multiple daily shifts. In a survey of job openings, phlebotomy scored highest (8% of positions were vacant), according to the ASCP's 2012 Vacancy Survey of U.S. Clinical Laboratories. Additionally, the BLS predicted that phlebotomists may see a whopping 27% increase in jobs from 2012-2022.

What Are the Requirements?

Phlebotomists must complete a training program through an accredited college or career school. Phlebotomy training at community or technical colleges takes about one semester to one academic year to complete. Typical coursework focuses on performing phlebotomy procedures and understanding medical lab protocols. Some schools may require a psychology course. All programs end with a practicum in a real clinical setting. Due to regulations in medical facilities, the immunization records and criminal backgrounds of candidates are conditions for admission.

Licensure/Certification

Licensure is not a typical requirement for phlebotomists, although a few states, including California, do require a license to work in this occupation, according to American Medical Technologists (AMT). Though the requirements may vary by state, to gain state licensure or certification you may need to complete a training programs, pass an exam and demonstrate phlebotomy experience.

Skills for Phlebotomy Technicians

Beyond formal training, phlebotomists must possess certain attributes and abilities to do well in this occupation. These include:

  • Ability to work with small needles and other devices precisely
  • Ability to follow detailed procedures for specimen collecting or medical testing
  • Patience and compassion for anxious patients or those who are in pain

What Real Employers Are Looking For

Previous experience in the field and completion of a formal training program are typical requirements employers list for phlebotomist job openings. Many prefer certification as well. To work in a hospital setting, having a flexible schedule is often important. To get an idea of what employers look for in a phlebotomy tech, check out the real job postings that were available in April 2012:

  • A Texas medical center is seeking a full-time phlebotomist to work nights and rotating weekends. Duties include collecting blood specimens and performing medical tests, such as blood glucose checks. The phlebotomist must have state licensure and at least a year of experience, along with certification or completion of a phlebotomy training program.
  • A Maryland medical center needs a phlebotomist to work various shifts on an as needed basis. In addition to specimen collecting, the phlebotomist will communicate lab results, create electronic records of lab testing and handle various clerical duties. A high school diploma and phlebotomy training course is required. The employer is seeking a candidate with a year of experience and phlebotomy certification.
  • A medical center in Missouri is looking for a phlebotomist to work evening hours as needed. The position requires collecting specimens, performing medical testing, processing specimens, maintaining equipment and completing clerical duties. A high school diploma and a year of experience are required. Certification and work experience in an inpatient hospital is preferred.
  • An independent diagnostic laboratory is advertising for a mobile phlebotomist in Arkansas. The position involves driving to area nursing homes or other client locations to collect specimens. A high school diploma is required and prior experience is preferred, as is certification. A valid driver's license and auto insurance is needed.

How to Make Your Skills Stand Out

Employers tend to prefer hiring certified phlebotomy techs, so earning voluntary certification can help you stand out among other applicants, as well as improve your income. The ASCP's 2010 Wage Survey of U.S. Clinical Laboratories found that certified phlebotomists earned 10% more than uncertified phlebotomists did. Multiple organizations, such as the AMT and the ASCP, offer certification. Eligibility requirements include completion of an approved training program and/or work experience. Passing an examination is required to obtain the credential.

Alternate Careers

Medical Laboratory Technician

If you like working in a laboratory but would like a higher earning potential, consider becoming a medical laboratory technician. They perform lab tests and prepare specimens under the supervision of a medical technologist. According to 2011 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data, the median annual wage for technicians was about $37,000. Job growth for 2010-2020 is expected to be average at 15%. An associate's degree in medical lab technology is the typical education requirement, although some techs may have a certificate. Some states require licensure and employers tend to prefer a certified technician.

Medical Assistant

Would you like to stay in the health field, but are looking for positions with more job growth? You may want to consider becoming a medical assistant. With an expected 2010-2020 job growth of 31%, opportunities are plentiful in the medical assisting occupation. Medical assistants perform both clinical and clerical duties. On the administrative side, they may schedule appointments or handle insurance paperwork. Clinical tasks include checking patients' vital signs, assisting doctors with medical exams and giving injections under supervision. Although there are no set education requirements for this occupation, employers typically prefer to hire an assistant with postsecondary training. Certificate, diploma and associate's degree programs are common. Formal education may be required if you want to earn certification - something that many employers look for. The mean annual wage for medical assistants was about $30,000, according to 2011 BLS data.

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Brightwood College

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Keiser University

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Baker College Online

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