Phlebotomist Careers


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Phlebotomists work in hospitals, doctors’ offices, and other medical facilities. Their specialty is the drawing and proper handling of blood for lab tests and other procedures. Nurses also draw blood, but many hospitals—particularly larger ones—hire staff who specialize in this area.

What is a Phlebotomist?

Phlebotomists draw blood and other fluids and catalogue them for analysis. Their job includes making sure all equipment and environments are sterile; labeling the fluid container with the right identification information, and filing all required paperwork. Their job is highly important—if done wrong, it could result in an infection, a misdiagnosis, or contamination of the sample.

Phlebotomist Training

To start training for a career in phlebotomy, you’ll first need a high school diploma or GED. Technical schools and community colleges often offer vocational training programs in phlebotomy that take about a year to complete. Courses include lab safety training, the proper sterilization and disposal of lab equipment, and potential legal issues. There is also a hands-on training component that takes place at hospitals or clinical facilities. Some schools also offer Associate’s degree programs, which take about two years to complete.

Once you’ve gone through the training program, you’ll need to earn certification. There are four different organizations that certify phlebotomists in the United States: the American Society of Clinical Pathologists (ASCP), the National Phlebotomy Association (NPA), the American Medical Technologists (AMT), or the American Association of Medical Personnel (AAMP). Each certification program has different requirements for certification. Employers tend to regard the AMT’s Registered Phlebotomy Technician certification highly, and this requires a minimum of 1,040 hours of hands-on work experience, a passing score on the certification exam, and graduation from an accredited training program.

In addition to certification, some states require licensure. Every state’s licensure requirement varies, but usually involves taking an exam; check with your state health department or occupational licensing department to be sure.

Phlebotomist Salary

According to, the median salary for phlebotomists is $30,116, with a common salary range of $20,000 to $48,000 per year. The salary can vary depending on your experience and location.

Phlebotomists and Online Degrees

It’s possible to go through a phlebotomy training program through an accredited online college and get certified—but be sure to check to make sure the online program you’re considering is accredited by the NAACLS and accepted by at least one of the four certifying organizations, as some of them are not.

Online phlebotomy programs are usually best for people who are already working in the health care field and have access to a medical facility in which to complete the minimum number of blood draws required for certification. If you’re completely new to the field, you may have to arrange for your own on-site training—and an in-person program may be a better fit.

Benefits and Drawbacks of a Career as a Phlebotomist

Phlebotomy is one of the lowest-paying of all medically-associated careers. However, it also has a very low education investment requirement for entry-level work—you don’t have to go to medical school and train for years to start working in the field. For some people, it’s an ideal way to get started in a medical career—and some phlebotomists go on to earn nursing degrees and other medical credentials.

In terms of scheduling, phlebotomy is a fairly low-stress job compared to some other medical professions. It’s usually not performed on an emergency basis, so phlebotomists’ schedules are fairly regular and there is low risk of on-call work. However, some phlebotomists work evening and weekend hours.

Because they handle patient blood, phlebotomists face a particular risk of exposure to blood-borne pathogens. Training programs for phlebotomy emphasize safety and caution in handling blood samples for both the patient’s safety and the technician’s. 

In all, phlebotomy can be a highly rewarding career for the right person. If you’re looking to get started in the medical profession, it might be a good option for you.

Where to Look for Phlebotomist Jobs