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How to Become A Phlebotomist

The healthcare industry has proved to be recession-proof in the last few decades. The demand for healthcare professions is growing rapidly all over the nation. According to Huffington Post, approximately 5.6 million healthcare jobs will be created by 2020. Among the leading healthcare occupations that include nursing and physicians, other medical specialists such as phlebotomists are also in demand. These professionals play a critical role in the healthcare delivery system. Phlebotomists are skilled in drawing blood from patients for further medical testing. Blood tests are an important part of many medical procedures.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the demand for phlebotomists is expected to increase at a rate much faster than many other occupations in the coming years.

Become a Phlebotomist

There is more than one path to becoming a phlebotomist in the United States. Many individuals pursue phlebotomy training programs after completing their high school.  This is the most common non-degree academic route that prepares students for the profession. There are many vocational and training schools that offer phlebotomy training courses. The answer to how to be a phlebotomist has been answered in steps listed below:

  • Complete a high school diploma
  • Complete a phlebotomy training course
  • Earn a professional certification

Phlebotomy Training Course

Phlebotomy training courses can be pursued from a number of accredited colleges and vocational schools. This program is basically designed to equip students with skills and knowledge about phlebotomy techniques and hospital settings. Many assume that phlebotomy is only about drawing blood. It is important to note that the field has become far more complex and phlebotomists must be trained to handle emergencies.

The program will not only focus on theory-based learning, but also include practical training. Students will cover a wide range of subjects and courses that highlight areas such healthcare service delivery, disease prevention methods, and blood drawing techniques.


In the initial phase of the program, students will cover fundamental subjects that help them understand the functioning of the body and cell composition. Further in the program, more advanced level subjects are studied. The structure of phlebotomy programs may vary from school to school. Listed below are a few main courses described in detail:

Blood Cell Composition

This course will help students understand the function and structure of blood cells. Students will learn how various diseases and infections affect the development of blood cells in a human body.

Clinical Laboratory Technology

This course will provide students with in-depth knowledge of laboratory science, professional conduct, and ethics.

Human Biology

This is one of the most fundamental courses covered in the program. Students will learn about the functions of skeletal, nervous, and muscular systems.

Fundamental Phlebotomy

In this course, students will learn about advanced techniques used for collecting blood specimens. The course will allow students to use specialized equipment for drawing blood. Important topics such as specimen processing, venous blood collection and requisitioning are covered.

Medical Ethics

Students enrolled in this course will learn about the main standards of conduct in healthcare. All healthcare professionals including phlebotomists must work within legal and ethical boundaries that do not violate any protocols.


Communications is an important part of training. Phlebotomists must have strong communication skills and should be able to interact with physicians and patients effectively.

Phlebotomy Practicum

A phlebotomy program will include a number of practical courses. Once students have developed a strong conceptual base and understanding of the field, they must move on towards gaining hands-on experience in clinical settings. Most schools have training labs. Students can practically learn and apply phlebotomy techniques in simulated environments. It is important to check the minimum training hours that you need to enter the career. Some schools may offer 100 hours of phlebotomy clinical experience while others may offer more. You can get more information about the practical training session by contacting the prospective schools.

On-the-Job Training

After completing a phlebotomy training course, you may apply for a phlebotomist’s position at a private or public hospital. Your goal of becoming a phlebotomist will usually start with on-the-job training. This training will expose you to professional healthcare environments where you will get a chance to work with patients. You will however be working under the supervision of a senior phlebotomist.

Online Phlebotomy Programs

If attending campus-based classes is difficult for you, think about enrolling online. Many schools now specialize in online phlebotomy programs. The coursework is completed via videos, conferencing, and slideshows.  Most online phlebotomy programs follow a hybrid format.

Professional Certification

Upon completion of a phlebotomy program and acquiring enough on-the-job training, you can seek certification from different associations. Certification will reflect your level of expertise and may build your career prospects.

There are various associations that offer phlebotomy certifications. These include:

  • Society for Clinical Pathology
  • American Medical Technologists
  • National Center for Competency Testing
  • National Phlebotomy Association

The minimum training requirements for phlebotomy certification will vary. Typically, individuals must have completed at least 40 hours of classroom training, 100 hours of clinical training, and 100 hours of unaided venipuncture. All candidates must pass the certification exam. This exam will test the theoretical understanding as well as practical skills of phlebotomists. Individuals must meet these requirements to obtain a certification.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Phlebotomist?

It can take you 1-2 years after high school to become a phlebotomist. The exact duration will depend upon the training program. Some training programs lasts for 6 months while others may take longer.

Career Prospects

Phlebotomist can be found working in all kinds of healthcare institutions. A majority of these professionals are hired by private and public hospitals. The career of a phlebotomist can be challenging in many ways. Trained phlebotomist must be alert and ready to work in medical emergencies. The typical duties of phlebotomists have been listed below:

  • Draw blood from patients
  • Assemble and use different medical instruments for drawing blood
  • Label and verify blood samples
  • Communicate with patients and promote health
  • Use different blood drawing techniques

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), phlebotomists earned a median annual income of $29,730 in 2012.


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