Becoming a Phlebotomist: Job Description & Salary Info

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What are the pros and cons of a phlebotomist career? Get real job duties, career prospects and salary information to see if becoming a phlebotomist is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of Becoming a Phlebotomist

Phlebotomists draw blood samples for laboratory testing. You can learn the pros and cons to being a phlebotomist by continuing to read onward.

PROS of Becoming a Phlebotomist
Median annual salary for a phlebotomist was $30,670 in 2014*
Above average employment growth projected (27 percent for 2012 to 2022)*
Opportunity to help people with medical treatments can be seen as rewarding*
Work environment is generally well lit and clean*

CONS of Becoming a Phlebotomist
Extended work periods are spent on your feet*
Good manual dexterity is needed since you work with your hands*
Overnight, weekend and evening hours might be required*
State license is necessary for employment in some cases*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Essential Career Information

Job Description

A medical laboratory technician that specializes in blood sample collection is called a phlebotomist. In this occupation, you normally work under the supervision of a manager or technologist. After preparing a patient, a phlebotomist then draws a blood sample and safely stores the collected sample until it is delivered to the intended destination.

Salary Information

The American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) reported that certified phlebotomists at the staff level earned about $15.93 an hour on average, with non-certified phlebotomists earning around $2 per hour less. The ASCP reported that the average salary for a phlebotomist at the staff level was $32,448 per year. At the supervisory level, phlebotomists made roughly $34,757 on average yearly. The ASCP's statistics were taken in 2013. In comparison, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) found that phlebotomists had a median salary of $30,670 in May 2014.

Job Outlook

A 27% growth in employment from 2012 to 2022 was projected for phlebotomists by the BLS. When compared to the growth of other careers, the employment growth for phlebotomists is above average. This potential job growth was attributed to factors like a growing aging population requiring more medical diagnoses for medical issues, such as cancer or diabetes.

Occupational Requirements

Education, Licensing and Training

In most cases, a 1-year certificate program or a 2-year associate's degree program has to be completed in order to become a phlebotomist. These programs are sometimes available at hospitals or vocational schools. For the certificate program, you'll typically need to have a degree already in a similar field, like nursing. The coursework in an appropriate program covers the practical and theoretical work performed at most major laboratories. As an aspiring phlebotomist, you'll want to find a program that mainly focuses on phlebotomy. In some cases, a state license might be needed in order to practice.

What Do Employers Want in Phlebotomists?

A detail-oriented mindset is an important quality in phlebotomists since employers are looking for organized workers. Having an eye for details also comes in handy when following specific instructions, which are crucial for accurate results. Many employers prefer to hire phlebotomists with certification. As you continue to read below, you'll be able to see some information summarized from job advertisements from November 2012 by real employers looking for phlebotomists.

  • A hospital in New Jersey needed a phlebotomist with at least six months of experience.
  • A phlebotomist opening in Virginia required applicants to be qualified in providing training and orientation for new patient-service technicians.
  • An Illinois company wanted a phlebotomist with the ability to communicate in English effectively, who is literate with a keyboard and computer and who has a familiarity with medical terminology.
  • In Texas, a phlebotomist with licensure from an accredited phlebotomy program was needed

How to Stand Out as a Phlebotomist

Although certification is a typical requirement for a state license, you can acquire certification as a way to stand out from other phlebotomists in states where licensing is not required. Prior to completing the examination, you'd have to acquire the appropriate education from an accredited program. From there, if you pass the certification examination and meet any additional requirements, you'll become a certified phlebotomist. In order to maintain your certification, you'll normally need to fulfill continuing education obligations. However, a recertification examination is also available sometimes. The National Credentialing Agency for Laboratory Personnel is one of the organizations that offer certification for phlebotomists.

Other Vocational Choices

One other occupation you could consider pursuing is chemical technician. The production, development and research of chemical processes and products are performed by chemical technicians who help engineers and scientists. This is done through a series of tests and interpreting the data acquired from that process. The BLS expected a 7% growth in employment for chemical technicians from 2010-2020. Chemical technicians earned an average of $45,000 or so annually as of May 2011.

Biological technician is an alternative laboratory career you may want to look into. As a biological technician, you'll set up, clean and maintain instruments and equipment used in a lab setting. You'll prepare samples and perform biological tests on them, then document the work you completed and report your findings. In May 2011, the BLS found that biological technicians had salaries of about $42,000 a year on average. A 14% employment growth was projected for biological technicians from 2010 to 2020.

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