If you want to pursue a career in healthcare, you will find that there are many different types of job available. It is important to choose the one that best suits your interests and skills. One of the options that you may wish to consider is a career as a phlebotomist. If this is a career that you may wish to pursue, then you should find out everything possible about what the training entails, what the role involves, and whether this is a financially rewarding career or not. Here is everything you need to know about pursuing a career as a phlebotomist and the salary that you can expect to earn if you work in this role.
What is a Phlebotomist?
A phlebotomist is a person who is trained to draw blood from a patient, says Wikipedia. They will work in various settings where patients need to have blood taken for medical or clinical testing, blood transfusions, research, or blood donations. The phlebotomist collects the blood using either venipuncture or microtechniques.
What Does the Role of a Phlebotomist Involve?
The exact role of a phlebotomist can vary from one job to the next. The duties they undertake may depend on factors such as the environment in which they are working and their level of responsibility. According to the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates, the following are some of the typical duties of a phlebotomist.
- Meeting patients and making them feel comfortable.
- Explaining procedures to the patients.
- Preparing the equipment needed and set up the space used for blood collection.
- Collecting samples of blood using venipuncture or microtechniques.
- Interpreting blood sample requests and using the correct collection containers.
- Labeling and storing blood containers.
- Completing any necessary paperwork.
- Giving advice on post-puncture care.
- Delivering specimens to the laboratory.
- Practicing standard and universal precautions.
Reasons to Consider a Career as a Phlebotomist
A career as a phlebotomist is a very rewarding job and there are many reasons to consider choosing this career. These include:
- Interesting work- The role of a phlebotomist is varied and interesting. No two days are the same and you will meet new people every day.
- A personally rewarding role- Phlebotomists play a vital role in diagnosing and treating patients. Therefore, it is a job that will give you deep satisfaction and that is personally rewarding.
- Varied job options- There are many different phlebotomist roles that involve undertaking different duties and working in a variety of environments. This means that you can choose the type of job and working environment that are best suited to your skills and interests.
- Opportunities for progression- If you opt for a career in phlebotomy, there are opportunities to progress to a higher level. This means you can take on more responsibilities and earn a higher salary.
What Skills Do You Need to Become a Phlebotomist?
A career as a phlebotomist is not one that will suit all people. You should do a critical analysis or your skills and personality traits to decide whether this is the best career for you or not. Some of the skills and personality traits that are needed to work as a phlebotomist include:
- Communication skills- You need to communicate well with both patients and other healthcare professionals, verbally and in writing.
- Teamwork- You will work alongside other healthcare professionals, each of whom will have their own role in patient care.
- Working independently- On most occasions, you will work alone. Therefore, you must have the ability to work using your own initiative.
- Patience- There are many times when you must show patience towards patients that are scared or concerned about having a blood sample taken.
- Compassion- You will need to demonstrate compassion towards patients who are sometimes very sick.
- Literacy and numeracy-Recording details accurately on blood samples and paperwork are vital, so you will need strong literacy and numeracy skills.
- ICT- You will often need to input details into a computer, so you need reasonable ICT skills.
- Attention to detail- Keeping accurate records, following requests in detail, and recording information on blood samples are all important elements of the job. So, attention to detail is a vital skill.
What Qualifications Are Needed to Become a Phlebotomist?
The qualifications and certification needed to work as a phlebotomist depend on where you live and work. In all areas, you will need a high school degree or equivalent to apply for phlebotomist training. Once phlebotomy training is completed, you need to check whether certification is compulsory in your state. According to Study.com, you should take the following three steps to become a phlebotomist.
- Step 1 - Earn a High School Diploma or Equivalent - Before you can begin training as a phlebotomist, you must complete high school level education and gain either a high school diploma or an equivalent, such as a GED. You must also be over the age of 18.
- Step 2- Complete Phlebotomy Training - To complete your phlebotomy training, you must enroll in a program at a college or technical school. The specific entry requirements can vary as some just require a general high school diploma, while others may specify that you have achieved certain grades in a specific subject. These courses usually last for less than one year. The course involves learning about basic anatomy, especially the circulatory system, and receiving training to take blood samples. Students will also learn how to interact with patients. Other aspects of the course include laboratory safety, proper equipment disposal, and potential legal issues. The course is a combination of classroom learning and hands-on instruction in a medical or clinical environment. To demonstrate proficiency, a trainee phlebotomist must also complete repeated disease tests and skin punctures.
- Step 3- Obtain Licensure and Certification - In many states, choosing to become certified is optional. There are only some states, including California, where certification and licensure are compulsory. However, it makes sense to gain certification and licensure so that you can work in any state in the United States. Certifications are available from a variety of sources, including the American Association of Medical Personnel, the American Medical Technologists, and the American Society of Clinical Pathologists. To become certified, you must meet the eligibility requirements, which may vary from one agency to the next. One of the requirements for certification with the American Medical Technologists is that you must complete 1,040 hours of work as a phlebotomist. Therefore, you must gain employment before you can become a certified phlebotomist. If you live or work in California, you must also get a license to practice. It is important to check the requirements for this with the health department or occupational licensing in the state in which you are planning to work.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Phlebotomist?
The length of time it takes to become a phlebotomist can vary depending on the program of study and the certification requirements that you need to meet. After completing your high school diploma, it is possible to complete a program to qualify as a phlebotomist in under a year, says Medical Technology Schools. To receive certification or licensing can take various lengths of time depending on the eligibility requirements. To meet the requirements of the American Medical Technologists of working for 1,040 hours to receive certification would take 26 weeks based on working 40 hours per week. If you worked in a part-time position, then it could take significantly longer.
Can You Study to Become a Phlebotomist Online?
Online study and distance learning are becoming increasingly popular ways for people to study and gain qualifications while working or bringing up a family. However, online courses and distance learning are not an option for every job. Unfortunately, you cannot qualify as a phlebotomist using these methods of study. This is because you need to gain hands-on experience and undergo face-to-face instruction regarding the techniques to use to correctly and safely draw blood samples from a patient.
However, it is possible to take online courses and distance learning to advance your career and keep up to date with the latest guidelines and practices. You can do this as part of your continuous professional development. For example, you may wish to take a course relating to a specific field of medicine or relating to leadership and management.
What is the Salary of a Phlebotomist?
The salary of a phlebotomist can vary as it depends on many factors. These include experience, location, the working environment, and level of responsibility. According to Career Explorer, the average starting wage of a phlebotomist is around $24,543, while the average for a top-level phlebotomist is around $31,446. The overall average salary of a phlebotomist with some experience is $26,243.
A phlebotomist salary also depends on location, so how much you earn will depend on the state on which you live and work. Some examples of the potential average earnings in different states are:
- Florida- $30,255
- California- $31,296
- Texas- $29,710
- New York- $27,040
Earning potential is also dependent on the specific role. Therefore, the type of duties undertaken and the working environment dictate the salary of a phlebotomist. Some examples are:
- Blood donor phlebotomist- $23,000
- Phlebotomy laboratory assistant- $24,000
- Mobile phlebotomist- $25,000
- Phlebotomy technician- $30,000
- PSC Site Coordinator- $68,000
Is the Phlebotomist Salary Worth the Effort of Training?
When deciding whether the phlebotomist salary is worth it, you need to look at the amount of effort required to train and what the opportunities are once you have qualified. As it takes around one and a half years to become qualified and certified, you can begin earning as a phlebotomist relatively quickly. There is also the opportunity to progress in this career quite quickly and to increase your earning potential. Therefore, the salary seems worth the effort of training.
You should also compare this career to others that have a similar length of training or level of responsibility to see if the salaries are comparable. Some examples of comparable careers and their average salaries are:
- Dental assistant- $27,000
- Veterinary technologist- $26,000
- Medical assistant- $26,000
- Medical secretary- $26,000
- Pharmacy technician- $25,000
- Orderly- $23,000
- Personal care aide- $22,000
- Home health aide- $22,000
When comparing the salaries for comparable careers, it seems that the salary for a phlebotomist is fair and worth the training.
How Can You Increase Your Earning Potential as a Trained Phlebotomist?
As a trained phlebotomist, your salary and employment potential are not set in stone. There are steps that you can take to increase your chances of employment and to raise your salary potential. Some of these steps include:
- Certification and licensure- Although you do not necessarily need certification and licensure, depending on the state where you live and work, it is worth getting this anyway. It means you can stand out from the competition when applying for a job. Also, you will not need to retrain or meet additional eligibility requirements should you choose to relocate.
- Training- Putting in the effort to undertake additional training or to gain extra qualifications can make you stand out against the competition. You should grab any opportunities for practical training to learn new or specialist skills that are relevant to the role. To reach a senior level, you may also consider taking leadership or management courses as this will give you a better chance of progressing to a senior level and increasing your phlebotomist’s salary.
- State- The opportunities and earning potential can vary significantly from one state to the next. Therefore, you may wish to relocate to give yourself a better chance of gaining employment that is financially rewarding.
- Experience- It is difficult to progress to the higher levels and to earn a better salary until you have gained some experience. This means that there is an element of patience involved as you will have to put in the time and effort to gain experience and broaden your opportunities and potential.
Are There Plenty of Job Opportunities for Phlebotomists?
Before embarking on a career in phlebotomy, you need to make sure that there is a demand for this role. According to Career Explorer, the job opportunities for phlebotomists are good. Between 2016 and 2026, it is expected that there will be a growth in demand for people in this profession of 24.5 percent. This is partly because of the aging population, which means there is an increased need for health professionals. It is also partly because of the growing recognition of the vital role that various healthcare professionals, including phlebotomists, play in healthcare and medicine. Therefore, there are good employment opportunities for the foreseeable future.
There are some areas of the United States that provide more job opportunities for phlebotomists than other states. Some of the best places to seek work in this profession are California, Texas, Florida, New York, and North Carolina. Coincidentally, these are also some of the best areas to work in terms of the average salary earned by phlebotomists.
The states that have a lesser demand for phlebotomists include Puerto Rico, Alaska, Vermont, South Dakota, and Wyoming. However, this does not mean that finding employment as a phlebotomist in these states is difficult, merely that there are fewer openings for phlebotomists than there are in other states.
It is also worth noting that there are job openings in a wide range of different roles in phlebotomy. Furthermore, there are also many opportunities to progress in this career to a senior level with a higher salary.
What is the Working Environment of a Phlebotomist?
There are various working environments in which a phlebotomist may work. These are typically in a medical or clinical setting where patients may also attend for medical advice or to receive treatment. Some of the typical working environments of a phlebotomist include:
- A clinic or medical center
- A hospital
- A blood donation center
- A private doctor’s offices
- A laboratory
In each of these environments, a phlebotomist may spend some time in treatment rooms with patients or in a ward. They may also spend some time in office or reception environments. There are some phlebotomists that undertake home visits to collect blood samples from people who are chronically ill or those who are incapacitated and housebound.
What is the Routine of a Phlebotomist?
A phlebotomist’s routine may vary depending on their role and where they work. There are both full-time and part-time jobs available, so you can choose to work the number of hours that best fits in with your lifestyle and your financial needs. Some of the part-time roles are in clinics that are only open for either the morning, the afternoon, or set days of the week.
Those that work full-time in clinics or medical centers will usually work hours similar to office workers, so full days during the week with no night or weekend work. However, those who work in a hospital environment could work any combination of hours as patients are treated in those settings for 24 hours a day and seven days a week. This could mean working days, nights, weekends, holidays, and shift work.
Some phlebotomists will have a set routine where patients have appointments for planned blood tests, and the phlebotomist will see the patients in order according to the appointment system. Similarly, those who work in blood banks or laboratories will often have a set routine each day. Other phlebotomists will work on demand. So, they will move around a clinic or hospital taking blood tests as and when they are requested by a clinician.
Where Can You Work as a Qualified Phlebotomist?
In the United States, you cannot work in California, Louisiana, Nevada, or Washington if you do not have recognized certification, says Phlebotomy Examiner. If you wish to work in these states, the certification is compulsory. To work in California, you will also need licensure.
If you have qualified as a phlebotomist in the United States but you are considering moving to another country, you will need to know whether you can continue in your chosen profession or not. In some countries, you can transfer your qualifications and certifications directly to a new place of work in a new country. However, there are also countries where you may need to undergo additional training or gain recognized accreditation.
Phlebotomy Examiner says that a career as a phlebotomist is one of the best options if you want to work in healthcare abroad. The skills are transferrable, and most countries will not require additional training. If you have certification in the United States, then you will usually not have a problem gaining employment abroad, although this can vary between countries. If you have not received certification, then some additional training may be necessary.
Another factor to consider if you are working abroad is the potential language barrier. If you are relocating to a non-English speaking country, then you may need to learn a second language as you need written and verbal communication skills to fulfill the role. This is difficult if you are not fluent in the native language.
A Career as a Phlebotomist - The Final Verdict
A phlebotomist is a healthcare professional that is trained to collect blood samples from patients in a variety of medical and clinical settings. It can take less than a year to complete the training for this profession, although meeting the eligibility criteria for certification can take a little longer. This is a varied and rewarding job that has a reasonable salary. There are many job opportunities available, both in the United States and abroad. Phlebotomists can progress in their career to have more responsibility and a higher salary.
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Written by Liz Flynn
Read more posts by Liz Flynn