How to Become a
Phlebotomist

Female nurse prepping a patient for a blood donation

If you’ve been thinking about pursuing a career as a Phlebotomist, then you’ve come to the right place. This guide contains essential information such as educational and training requirements, necessary skills, average salaries and more.

What Does a Phlebotomist Do?

Phlebotomists are medical professionals whose primary duty is to safely draw blood from patients. They then send the blood samples to a laboratory so that they can undergo the appropriate tests. Phlebotomists can work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, blood banks, clinics, private practices and private laboratories.

In addition to painlessly and efficiently drawing blood, Phlebotomists will also be expected to collect different kinds of specimen samples, identify the best way to draw blood from each patient and ensure the safe passage of blood samples to and from laboratories. Common Phlebotomist duties and responsibilities include:

  • Sanitizing and organizing equipment

  • Properly labeling each sample

  • Entering data into computer systems

  • Correctly identifying a great number of patients

Phlebotomist Skills

Drawing blood from patients is the main function of a Phlebotomist, but a variety of other skills are needed as well. Phlebotomists work with a wide array of patients on a daily basis, from babies to teenagers to senior citizens, so they must have excellent communication skills as well as comfort ability with near constant face-to-face interaction. Additionally, Phlebotomists also need to adhere to a high standard of infection control at all times in order to keep patients safe and free of disease.

Other key Phlebotomist skills include:

  • Math proficiency

  • Excellent record management

  • Attention to detail and organization

  • Calm, sympathetic and friendly demeanor

  • Ability to work carefully and methodically on a tight schedule

How Do You Become a Phlebotomist?

Education and Training

According to our analysis of online job postings, employers are looking for Phlebotomists with an educational background of a high school diploma, GED or equivalent.

Instead of a four-year degree, Phlebotomists are required to have completed a phlebotomy training course from a qualified institution. Compared to other medical professions, phlebotomy training takes a relatively short amount of time, and you’ll typically only have to spend a few months in school in order to become fully trained.

In addition to completing a training program, the vast majority of employers require potential candidates to be officially certified Phlebotomists. While certification is not legally necessary, not being certified will make your job search extremely difficult and narrow down your employment options by a considerable degree.

Finding a Job

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for Phlebotomists is increasing by a staggering 25 percent, which is projected to result in the opening of 28,100 new positions between through 2024. This significant growth rate can be attributed to an aging population as well as an increase in accessible health insurance. So, if you’ve decided that you want to become a Phlebotomist, you’ve picked an excellent time to do it.

Before you start searching for jobs, be sure to have a polished and professional resume ready for submission. Browse through JobHero’s library of expert approved Phlebotomist resume samples for fresh ideas and guidance.

Once you have a great resume on hand, conduct an online job search to find open positions in your area. However, before you start sending off applications, you’ll want to spend some time writing a compelling cover letter. A well-crafted cover letter can convey your work ethic, personality, experience and special areas of expertise to prospective employers. Take a look at our Phlebotomist cover letter sample for inspiration.

Insights From a Phlebotomist

To get an insider’s perspective on how to become a Phlebotomist, we talked to Lei Sean Curtis, MPH, CPI, the lead Phlebotomy Instructor and Phlebotomy Career Services Adviser at Pima Medical Institute in Mesa, Arizona. Lei has more than 20 years of allied health experience, as well as 21 years of experience as a Phlebotomist.

What is the common career path for Phlebotomists?

The common career path for a phlebotomist is to attend a program that focuses on the core of what phlebotomy entails. Once this is completed there are many areas where a phlebotomist may use their skills, such as mobile phlebotomy, which focuses on the phlebotomist going directly to the patient, or performing venipuncture within facilities such as hospice or rehabilitation centers. Phlebotomist can also choose to work in laboratories such as Sonora Quest or Labcorp. There are also employment opportunities in physician offices, known as IOPs, as well as independent laboratories.

Working in the hospital environment is often a common choice when a phlebotomist is seeking to further their career in healthcare, such as with Medical Lab Technicians or Clinical Laboratory Assistants. Phlebotomist can also work as pathologist assistants once they have worked a couple years in the laboratory. They may also use their skills as stepping-stones to branch out into nursing, the physician’s assistant career or even as a doctor. The patient contact hours gained through their phlebotomy career help to prepare them for their experiences in the healthcare environment.

What should someone consider before becoming a Phlebotomist?

There are a few things that should be taken into consideration when choosing to become a phlebotomist. They include having to stand on your feet and walk constantly if one is choosing to work in a hospital. Those shifts are often 10 or 12 hour with minimal sitting. Phlebotomist must understand they are dealing with sick individuals, so they have to take proper precautions at all times to ensure they stay as healthy as possible. As phlebotomist, exposure to various types of specimens does occur. The career is not just about taking blood samples. The patient dynamic is huge, as phlebotomist deal with all ages and cultures of patients. There is not just one type of patient. Difficult veins are also part of the job.

The most important aspect of becoming a phlebotomist is that one should understand they are an integral part of the healthcare team and that attention to detail is critical in the successful obtaining of samples, which are critical in diagnosing a patient’s condition.

What type of person excels in this job?

The type of person that excels in the phlebotomy field enjoys direct contact with people. They are empathic and must have a drive to help people get better. They are individuals that are self-motivated and self-sufficient. Those who are detail oriented and prefer minimal supervision work well as phlebotomist. Individuals that like fast-paced environments tend to do well in this job. Those that enjoy instant gratification from customer service tend to excel as a phlebotomist.

What are some of the most important skills for Phlebotomists to have?

The soft and hard skills are always in constant development with the phlebotomist, as one has to tailor themselves to the clientele and patient in which they serve. Understanding spatial relationships is important, as we are always in a patient’s personal or intimate space. Professionalism and a good understanding of patient privacy is a must. Proper dress as well as grooming is important, since we are in a field that still seeks certain standards regarding presentation of allied professionals. Tone of voice and words of choice are vital. We must remember the patient is our customer and customer satisfaction determines our stability in the workforce. Always treat the patient as you would wish to be treated.

What do you find to be the most rewarding aspect of being a Phlebotomist?

The most rewarding part of being a phlebotomist is knowing that I am playing a critical role in making sure that the patient is able to be treated, and I am helping them to get better. I know that physicians rely on my expertise to obtain quality specimens for testing and diagnosis. My role as a phlebotomist gives me satisfaction in knowing I make a difference in the continuation of a patient’s healthcare.

How Much Do Phlebotomists Get Paid?

Depending on the preferences of their employer, Phlebotomists can be paid on an hourly wage basis or an annual wage basis. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median hourly wage for a Phlebotomist is $15.21, with the lowest-paid earning $10.99 per hour and the highest-paid earning $21.73 per hour.

Top Ten States for Phlebotomist Salary

Phlebotomists in the following ten states earn the highest median hourly wage in the U.S.

    District of Columbia

    $18.62

    New York

    $18.05

    California

    $18.04

    Massachusetts

    $17.80

    Connecticut

    $17.79

    Maryland

    $17.71

    Rhode Island

    $17.66

    Alaska

    $17.24

    New Jersey

    $17.04

    Delaware

    $17.02

    Phlebotomist Resources

    We put together this list of resources to help you keep exploring your career as a Phlebotomist

    Professional Groups

    National Phlebotomy Association
    The NPA is the oldest phlebotomy association in the U.S., and has certified more than 15,000 Phlebotomists.. It provides its members with certification, job and career resources, travel discounts and continuing education.

    American Society of Phlebotomy Technicians
    The ASPT is the second-oldest phlebotomy association in the U.S. It provides its members with certification, continuing education, a newsletter and program development.

    Phlebotomists on LinkedIn

    Phlebotomy
    This group of more than 10,000 members is an ideal place to connect with fellow Phlebotomists, discuss continuing education and stay up to date on industry news.

    Phlebotomist
    This group of more than 8,000 members is another great place to network with other professionals in the field.

    Phlebotomist Books

    Phlebotomy (Quickstudy: Academic)
    This book is designed for phlebotomy students studying for their exams. Contains in-depth information on testing procedures and equipment usage, as well as clearly labeled graphs and diagrams.

    Phlebotomy Notes
    This book is ideal for both newly minted and experienced Phlebotomists who are in need of a practical, easy-to-read pocket guide that is suitable for on-the-job use. Packed with easily accessible information on blood sample collection, transportation and processing.