So you’re considering a career as a phlebotomist. Awesome! Phlebotomy can be a rewarding career, especially for those who enjoy interacting with people and restoring them to health. It can also be a gateway to other jobs in the medical community, such as EMT or nurse practitioner.
But even with proper phlebotomy training, it can also be tough to “get your foot in the door”. The low barriers to entry mean that phlebotomy jobs are a hot commodity. And there is no shortage of compassionate people who want to turn caregiving into a career. But don’t lose heart! Lots of people become phlebotomists every year, and a career in phlebotomy can be a great step in a larger career goal you might have, such as becoming a registered nurse or medical assistant. It can even be a great career in itself!
You also probably have questions, and we’ve attempted to gather the answers to the most common ones below. Read on!
If you’ve ever undergone a blood test or donated plasma, you may have interacted with a phlebotomy expert. A phlebotomist (“fleh-BOT-uh-mist”) draws blood samples from patients for the purpose of conducting experiments, tests, medical procedures, etc. They might also explain the intended procedures to patients in advance, and help patients deal with any adverse reactions to the blood drawing process.
Click here for a more detailed job description of a phlebotomist.
Nope! One of the great things about a career in phlebotomy is its low barriers to entry. However, you do need to attend a short phlebotomy training program, and possibly earn your phlebotomy certification as well (depending on the state you live in). We’ve put together comprehensive guides on how to do both. That’s the goal of this website!
The average annual salary for a phlebotomist is about $31,000, and the average annual salary is about $15.33. Wages can vary substantially depending on several factors, including the state you work in, your level of experience, the employer you work for, and your work environment (laboratory, hospital, physician’s office, etc.).
Click here for the top 10 most important things to know about phlebotomists’ salaries.
According to the U.S. government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there are currently 101,300 phlebotomists nationwide. Furthermore, the number of phlebotomists is expected to increase nationwide by 27% between 2012 and 2022. They classify this rate of job growth as “much faster than average” for all occupations.
Only 4 states currently require phlebotomists to be certified- California, Nevada, Washington, and Louisiana. However, even if your state doesn’t require a you to be certified, a potential employer might. According to the same report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Almost all employers look for phlebotomists who have earned professional certification.” Additionally, some phlebotomists report having experienced a pay increase when they obtained their certification. Employers value certification because it establishes a potential candidate’s competency, their commitment to their chosen field, and their professionalism.
As stated above, most employers of phlebotomists (blood banks, hospitals, test labs, etc.) require proof of training. So if a career as a phlebotomist is for you, check out which training schools are in your area. Additionally, you may want to inquire about nearby volunteer positions at blood banks, hospitals, etc., so you can practice the skills you pick up in your certification program.
“Always ask if your patient has any known allergies to latex or alcohol (and know what to do if they have those allergies). For EKGs, let them know that the alcohol wipe is going to be cold before you cleanse the area. Also provide the patient a blanket if they are cold to avoid somatic tremors on the EKG reading. Keep up the good work!”
Alanna from Austin, Texas
“Make light conversation with the patient. If the patient have blood drawn often ask them where the best place is. I drew blood from Cancer patients and alway told them if they go somewhere else and have blood drawn to let the person know ‘this particular vein is a good one’ that way an unskilled person won’t have to guess.”
Rita from Memphis, Tennessee
“Always make sure you have the right patient by asking DOB… Tie the tourniquet high and tight, and remember the anchor vein. It’s like landing an airplane: you lightly lay needle on skin and gently push forward and you won’t hurt the patient and your needle should easily slide into the vein.”
Sharon from Paola, Kansas
“I’d recommend taking as much time as you can to practice and also observe others who have more experience than you do. Also search on YOUTUBE for phlebotomy videos, see if there are any specific to the company you are getting your training from. I’ve been doing it for almost 8 years and there are still times I ‘miss’ because every arm is different! Good luck!”
Nicole from New York, New York
“A patient should always feel comfortable. I always do my best to help them feel confident about my skills and knowledge of my profession. I am also aware that the larger gauge needles provide the best blood samples. Small needles when unnecessary cause hemolysis. Causing incorrect lab results. Not a risk I want to take with my patients.”
Amanda from Greensboro, North Carolina
“Everyone has rolling veins when they’re not anchored properly. When a patient tells you ‘I have rolling veins’ it’s because a previous phleb used that as an excuse for missing. They will often tell you they require a butterfly as well. A skillful/competent phlebotomist will obtain the specimen and educate the patient regarding needle gauge, anchoring, technique etc.”
Ken from Florence, Kentucky
“Have them to look away at something else, this will help them to relax and not be tensed while focusing on ‘the needle’. Always feel for the vein. Lastly only stick the bevel of the needle into the patient, doing this makes being stuck not hurt.”
Sarah from San Luis Obispo, California
“I always try to let them know that I did not find the procedure difficult and reassure with them that they do in fact have decent veins. When I do come across the ‘true’ difficult patient, I reassure the patient that I will do my best not to hurt them any more than the usual ‘pinch’.”
Steven from Worcester, Massachusetts
“I have no problem using whatever needle a patient requests as long as it is within my regulations and I can get the same samples needed. It is all about the patient and their comfort level and making sure that they know you take their concerns seriously.”
Joanne from Ontario, Canada