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5 Steps to Becoming a Phlebotomist (+ Salary Guide)

Amanda Guarniere

If you want to start a hands-on career in healthcare immediately, being a phlebotomist could be the right choice for you.

Phlebotomists are educated medical practitioners who draw blood samples from patients for laboratory testing. They serve an important role in the healthcare system, assisting in diagnosing and treating a wide range of medical conditions.

In this article, we will look at the responsibilities of a phlebotomist, how to become one, and the pros and cons of this career path.

Table of Contents

What is a Phlebotomist?

A phlebotomist is a healthcare professional who is trained to safely and efficiently draw blood from patients. They work in hospitals, clinics, and other medical settings, collecting and analyzing blood samples to help diagnose and treat medical conditions. 

Phlebotomists are an important part of the healthcare team who are committed to providing their patients with high-quality care.

What Does a Phlebotomist Do?

A phlebotomist is a friendly and compassionate healthcare professional who is trained to safely and gently draw blood from patients. They are an important part of the healthcare team and work in hospitals, clinics, and other medical settings. 

On a daily basis, a phlebotomist may perform the following tasks:

  • Verifying patient information and answering any questions about the blood draw procedure.
  • Assembling and sterilizing the necessary equipment, such as needles and tubes, to ensure a safe and clean procedure.
  • Using techniques such as venipuncture or skin puncture to draw blood gently and efficiently.
  • Appropriately labeling and storing the collected blood samples.
  • Maintaining a clean and organized work area, and ordering supplies as necessary.

Phlebotomists may also be in charge of keeping their work area and equipment clean, ordering supplies, and keeping accurate records. 

Where Do Phlebotomists Work?

They may be supervised by a laboratory technologist or manager. Phlebotomists are committed to providing excellent care to their patients and are always willing to lend a hand and a friendly smile.

Every day you’ll have the chance to assist people as a phlebotomist in a variety of medical settings. Here are a few potential workplaces for you:

Hospitals: Phlebotomists frequently work in hospitals, where they may take blood samples from patients for lab testing, blood transfusions, or other medical needs.

Clinics: Phlebotomists could also work in clinics, where they may take blood samples from patients for medical tests or other purposes.

Diagnostic testing facilities: Phlebotomists may work in diagnostic testing facilities, where they may take patient blood samples for different kinds of laboratory testing.

Laboratories: Some phlebotomists work in labs, where they might prepare blood samples for testing or help other lab staff with tests.

Offices of physicians: Phlebotomists may also operate in physicians’ offices, where they may take blood samples from patients for diagnostic testing or other medical uses.

Blood donation centers: Phlebotomists may work in blood donation facilities, where they collect blood from donors for transfusion or use in scientific studies.

How Much Do Phlebotomists Make?

Overall, working as a phlebotomist will give you the chance to work in a variety of medical settings and have a beneficial impact on patients’ lives.

The level of education and experience, the type of facility where they operate, and the location of their position are all variables that can affect a phlebotomist’s salary.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of May 2021, phlebotomists earned an average yearly salary of $37,380. Phlebotomist salaries ranged from less than $28,990 for the lowest 10% to more than $48,490 for the highest 10%.

Hospital phlebotomists typically make more money than those who work in other types of facilities. Those who work as phlebotomists in urban or metropolitan areas could also make more money than those who do so in rural locations.

Phlebotomists may be qualified for benefits including health insurance, paid time off, and retirement savings plans in addition to their base salary.

Phlebotomist Salaries by Place of Employment

The type of facility where a phlebotomist works may have an impact on their salary. As stated by the U.S. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of May 2021, phlebotomists earned an average yearly salary of $37,380

Additionally, according to data from the BLS, the following industries pay phlebotomists the median annual wage:

  • Hospitals; state, local, and private: $35,363
  • Offices of physicians: $36,410
  • Medical and diagnostic laboratories: $38,040
  • Outpatient care centers: $38,220

Several variables, including the facility’s location, the phlebotomist’s level of education and experience, and the cost of living in the area, may affect these numbers. 

Phlebotomists may be eligible for additional job benefits in some settings, such as health insurance, life insurance, dental insurance, paid time off for holidays, personal time, and sick leave, and some may be eligible for tuition assistance as they pursue higher education. 

It’s always a good idea to look up salary information for the particular area and category of facility where you want to work.

5 Steps to Becoming a Phlebotomist

States have different standards for becoming phlebotomists, although in most situations, passing a certification exam is necessary. 

The average length of a phlebotomy program is less than a year, and it is typically provided in community colleges and technical and vocational schools.

After graduating, the student is qualified to sit for a professional certification exam. The stages you must follow to become a phlebotomist are listed below.

Step1: Obtain a High School Diploma or GED

Before pursuing a career as a phlebotomist, it is generally recommended to get a high school diploma or GED (General Educational Development). While a high school diploma or GED is not necessarily needed, having one can make it easier to enroll in a phlebotomy training program and may be preferred by employers.

Step 2: Enroll in a Phlebotomy Program

A high school diploma or GED is usually required to enroll in a phlebotomy program. You may also be required to meet age and health criteria, as well as pass a background check. If you attended science-based classes in high school, those focused on anatomy and medical terminology. It will be useful when taking this path.

Typically, phlebotomy programs will require:

  • Completing an application
  • Proof of graduation and achievement of a minimal GPA
  • Immunization History
  • Certification in CPR
  • Passing a background check.

To become certified, you will generally need to pass a test after completing a phlebotomy program.

Step 3: Complete a Phlebotomy Program

Completing a phlebotomy program typically involves a combination of classroom education and clinical training. 

You will master the principles of anatomy and physiology as well as clinical methods such as drawing blood, collecting vital signs, conducting physical exams, and preparing specimens for laboratory testing in the classroom. 

The hands-on component of the training is frequently held in a laboratory or clinic, where you will get expertise in the practice of phlebotomy. You will be qualified to perform phlebotomy in most states if you complete the program and pass the certification exam.

Step 4: Pass a Certification Exam

To become a certified phlebotomist, you must typically pass a certification exam after finishing a phlebotomy training program. Although certification is not necessarily required to operate as a phlebotomist, it is often recommended by employers and is required in some states.

The National Phlebotomy Association (NPA), the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP), and the American Medical Technologists (AMT) all provide certification tests for phlebotomists (AMT).

To be eligible to take a certification exam, you must normally complete the following requirements:

  • Taking a phlebotomy training course
  • Having a high school diploma or GED
  • Meeting any age or health criteria
  • Passing a background check

The certification exam will generally cover anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, and proper blood drawing techniques. Multiple-choice questions and hands-on practical tests will be used to assess your knowledge and skills in these areas.

Review the content taught in your phlebotomy training program and practice your abilities to prepare for the certification exam. Some organizations provide study aids or review courses to candidates to help them prepare for the exam.

You will obtain a certificate or credential confirming that you are a qualified phlebotomist once you have passed the certification exam. You may be required to renew your certification on a regular basis by taking continuing education courses or retaking the certification exam.

Step 5: Obtain a State License (if required)

To work as a phlebotomist in some states, you may need to obtain a state license. State licensure standards for phlebotomists vary, but most require the completion of a phlebotomy training program and passing a certification exam.

To earn a state license as a phlebotomist, you must generally:

  • Check your state’s license requirements.
  • Complete a phlebotomy training program and pass a certification exam, as well as meet any age or health restrictions and pass a background check.
  • Submit an application for a state license and any applicable fees.
  • Pass any tests that are required.
  • Renew your license on a regular basis, usually every two to four years, by enrolling in continuing education classes or retaking the certification exam.

It is critical to verify with your state’s licensing board to determine the specific requirements for acquiring a phlebotomist state license.

The Pros And Cons Of Becoming A Phlebotomist

For people who are interested in healthcare and have good communication skills, being a phlebotomist can be a satisfying job. 

After addressing the necessary education, training, and certification to become a phlebotomist, here are some potential pros and cons to consider before becoming a phlebotomist:


  • Phlebotomists perform a vital role in the healthcare system, collecting and analyzing blood samples to assist diagnose and treat patients.
  • The demand for phlebotomists is predicted to rise in the coming years as the population ages and the demand for healthcare services rises.
  • Phlebotomy is a versatile career that allows you to work in a variety of settings, such as hospitals, clinics, laboratories, and private offices.
  • Training programs for phlebotomy are often short and inexpensive, making it a very accessible professional route.


  • Depending on the demands of the facility, phlebotomists may be expected to work nights, weekends, and holidays.
  • The job may expose you to infectious diseases and require you to handle potentially dangerous items like blood and needles.
  • Phlebotomists may be asked to stand for extended periods of time and to lift or transfer patients.
  • Phlebotomists’ jobs can be stressful at times since they must work under time constraints and deal with anxious or unpleasant patients.

The Difference between Phlebotomists and Phlebotomy Technicians

A phlebotomist and a phlebotomy technician are both educated healthcare professionals that draw blood samples from patients. There are, however, some distinctions between the two roles.

Phlebotomists are trained experts who draw blood samples from patients. They are in charge of preparing samples for laboratory testing and may also do basic lab tests such as measuring the oxygen levels or hemoglobin count in the blood.

Phlebotomists may also be in charge of equipment maintenance and sterilization. Phlebotomists are required to be licensed in several states.

Phlebotomy technicians, on the other hand, are also trained to take blood samples, although they may be assigned additional tasks. Preparing patients for blood samples and assisting with other lab activities, such as preparing specimens for analysis and processing test findings, may be included. Phlebotomy technicians may need to be certified in some states.

Both phlebotomists and phlebotomy technicians perform vital roles in the healthcare system, collecting and analyzing blood samples to help diagnose and treat patients. However, depending on the company and the jurisdiction in which they operate, the particular duties and responsibilities of each function may differ.

FAQs About Becoming a Phlebotomist

What two skills are important for a phlebotomist?

Hand-eye coordination and compassion are two crucial qualities for a phlebotomist. Phlebotomists deal directly with patients, drawing blood for tests, research, donation, and even transfusions. 

While numerous skills are required to function as a phlebotomist, coordination and compassion are the most critical.

What are hard skills for phlebotomists?

A phlebotomist’s hard skills are the specific talents and knowledge required to execute the profession. These could include:

  • Anatomy and physiology knowledge
  • Medical terminology knowledge
  • Technical abilities in the collection and management of blood samples
  • Hazardous material handling safety skills
  • Computer abilities are required for entering patient data and processing test results.

Where do phlebotomists make the most money?

California is the highest-paying state for phlebotomists, with an annual salary of $41,157. San Francisco, CA, pays phlebotomists the most, with an average salary of $42,456 per year.


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