Phlebotomists are health care professionals who are skilled in drawing patients’ blood. Phlebotomists, classified by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics under the category of medical or clinical laboratory technician, is estimated to have an employment growth rate of 16 percent within the next 8 to 10 years. The boost in the employment rate is driven by the increase in population and new types of blood tests to evaluate medical conditions. Because of this increase in demand, a career as a phlebotomist is considered to provide job stability. It is becoming one of the fastest growing professions in the United States with a projected 30,000 more job openings. Phlebotomists are also given a lot of options when it comes to choosing their work environment. They can work in a variety of clinical settings such as in hospitals, laboratories, private doctors’ offices, other health care facilities and blood banks. Most phlebotomists work full time with 40 hours of work in a week. However, they can also work part-time if they choose to do so. Some can also work in blood drives which are often held on the weekends or at night, making it possible for phlebotomists to have more than one job.
Not only does a career as a phlebotomist provide job stability, it offers financial security as well. According to various reports, phlebotomists with minimum work experience make an average of $20,000 per year or approximately $9 per hour. As they gain more experience, phlebotomists can make up to $35,000 annually or about $18 per hour. Phlebotomists who are also trained clinical laboratory technicians or those with additional certification like EKG will have a higher salary and more opportunities for career advancements.
In order to become a phlebotomist, an individual must complete a state-approved phlebotomist certificate program and most programs run for about six to 13 weeks. Commonly, many phlebotomists choose to acquire a two year Associate’s degree in medical or clinical laboratory assistant or technician. After completing a certificate program or an Associate’s degree, prospective phlebotomists must take and pass a nationally recognized certification examination that most employers require from their phlebotomists. Phlebotomy training programs are available in trade schools, vocational schools, career centers, hospitals and community colleges.
Courses that students must take to become a phlebotomist include topics that range from anatomy, physiology, universal safety precautions, first aid, medical terminology, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), legal and ethic issues regarding blood collection, and patient communication or interaction principles. An important topic that is covered widely in the all the phlebotomists courses is blood collection. This includes subtopics such as microcollection techniques, safety and health regulations, collection kits and containers, blood sampling, patient identification techniques, specimen handling processing, venipuncture blood collection, labeling, sorting, testing preparation, and emergency procedures.
Students will also be given the opportunity to gain a lot of hands-on training through an externship or a clinical practicum. Depending on the school or the program, most of the phlebotomy programs nationwide consist of a specific number of weeks for classroom hours and a specific number of hours for clinical training.