What is a Phlebotomist? How Much Do They Make and How Do I Become One?
Phlebotomy is the practice of drawing blood. Phlebotomists are healthcare workers that are responsible for collecting blood for analysis. Although they do not perform any analysis, doctors use phlebotomy information as an important diagnostic tool. Therefore, phlebotomists must take care to keep samples well documented and clearly labelled. They work with a wide range of patients, from infants to the elderly, should possess good interpersonal skills and be able to put their patients at ease. They are also knowledgeable of human anatomy and physiology, safety procedures and protocols, first aid and CPR. Information regarding the necessary skills is widely available.
Many schools offer phlebotomy information. Phlebotomists receive their training through community colleges, some hospitals, online courses, career and vocational schools. Students receive classroom and clinical instruction to obtain phlebotomy information. Students can pursue phlebotomy training through certificate, associate and bachelor’s degrees. Certificate courses are most commonly completed. Certificate programs take 12 weeks to one year to complete and cost, on average, $1500 to $3000. Degree programs require two to four years for completion and cost five to ten times more than certificate programs.
Phlebotomists should take care to select an accredited training program. Accredited programs present phlebotomy information, meet standards and use materials designated by the Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute (CLSI) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Non-accredited programs are not recognized by certifying agencies and most employers. Students should look for programs and schools that have been recognized by the United States Department of Education, the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Standards Institute (NAACLS), or similar. Students completing an online training program should be sure to select a program with an additional hands-on portion or internship. Clinical experience is necessary to qualify for certification.
Certification is not required by law (except in California and Louisiana) but is highly recommended. Graduation from an accredited training program does not equal certification. You must successfully complete a standardized exam through one of ten nationally recognized certifying agencies. These include the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP), the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT), and the American Phlebotomy Association (APA). Obtaining certification insures the thoroughness of an applicant’s knowledge of the subject. Fortunately, you may apply for certification online. Study guides, review books, and practice exams are available for exam preparation through the certifying agencies.
Phlebotomists work alongside doctors and nurses in a variety of settings. They are employed by hospitals, private healthcare facilities, laboratories, and blood collection banks. Generally, they will work 40 hour weeks for an average hourly salary of $12.84. On average, one can expect to earn $26,710 per annum. Part time work is also available, and there is no shortage of jobs. It is important to recognize that part time employees are no less experienced than full time technicians.
Some may also choose to work as a mobile phlebotomist. Hospitals and blood collection banks employ mobile clinics to travel and collect blood samples from private homes and blood collection drives. The healthcare industry is growing as the general population ages; thus the amount of information is increasing. There is a demand for this skilled profession. The United States Bureau of Labor predicts a 14% increase in employment opportunities from 2006 to 2016.