Phlebotomy is the practice of drawing blood from patients and taking the blood specimens to the laboratory to prepare for testing.
Getting your phlebotomy certification is an excellent stepping-stone to other careers in health care such as medical assisting. It is also known as venipuncture in the medical industry.
As a certified phlebotomy technician you will be trained in the latest methods of obtaining blood specimens by venipuncture and micro-collection techniques. You will be an important member of the clinical laboratory team.
New diagnostic techniques, clinical laboratory technology and automated instruments have greatly increased the amount of and the demand for, medical laboratory testing performed by phlebotomy technicians.
As a clinical lab career, phlebotomy technicians have many options of employment; they may work in hospitals, independent laboratories, physicians’ offices, clinics, health maintenance organizations, public health agencies, nursing homes and research institutions.
With your Phlebotomy Technician certificate and be working in the medical field as a phlebotomist in as little as 90 days.
What Are The Requirements To Get Your Phlebotomy Certification?
A certification exam must be taken and passed in order to become a certified phlebotomist; you must take and pass a certification exam from a nationally accredited organization. The most popular certification exam is given by the National Phlebotomy Association in all 50 states. The price can vary from $60 to $199 for the test. Check with potential employers in your area for the recommended organization.
Before you take any exam, you must meet some minimum requirements. First, you must be a high school graduate (GED is accepted as well). Second, you must have a minimum of 100 blood draws from your training. Third, you are required to have a minimum number of classroom training hours. The number varies, according to which organization is giving the exam.
While not exactly a “requirement” per se, having good peoples skills is certainly beneficial for anyone considering this career path. The people skills aspect is overlooked, but you will be dealing with people from all walks of life each day on the job, so you should be honest with yourself about your abilities to work with the public.
Being organized and efficient is also higher desirable skills as you will need to be able to juggle and prioritize responsibilities.
Where Can I Start My Phlebotomy Training?
You want to research thoroughly the program you choose. The quality of their phlebotomy classes and training directly correlates with your odds for a successful career in the future. With that said, you must complete your training with accredited institution, university or medical technical center that offers a specific certification for phlebotomy. Most programs can be completed within a short time period, usually less than a year.
The program will include hands on real world training and theoretical classroom lectures and discussions. Your hands on training will include the proper way to handle blood draws, needles, hazardous materials, etc…. It will help you acquire the necessary skills of properly locating insertion site and drawing of blood.
The classroom portion will include discussions on the ethics and legal considerations of a career in phlebotomy. Statistical analysis and results interpretation will also be covered in the classroom. You will also be trained on the basics the cardiovascular system, including coursework in anatomy and physiology. This will set the foundation for understanding why your role in critical in the healthcare industry.
Most students find this part as a stepping stone to a lifetime of continuing education in the medical field.
Why Choose Phlebotomy For Your Career?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of clinical lab workers, including phlebotomy technicians, is expected to grow as the volume of laboratory tests increases with both population growth and the development of new types of tests.
Since every medical lab needs a phlebotomist, you will always have a variety of employers and employment opportunities across the country. The demand will always exist since almost all medical work requires a blood draw at some point. In fact, the Labor department has forecasted a growth of over 15% for phlebotomy technicians over the next 6 years.
As a recession proof career, we have seen an increase in the medical wages, across the board in the US. As staffing shortages continue to build up for trained professionals, wages continue to grow in order to recruit the best technicians in the healthcare industry.
The average starting pay as of 2013 is $29,700 per year. With experience and continued training, you can expect to make a salary in the middle to upper 30,000’s annually.
Do I have to get certified to work as a phlebotomist?
While only a handful of US states currently require certification, it is certainly beneficial for you to get certified before starting your career. This will help you stand out from others looking to get started and a certificate is always favorable for any potential employer.
So while the answer is “no” you don’t have to be certified to find a job as a phlebotomist, you will find it much more difficult to have a successful career without being certified.
How To Become A Phlebotomist
The job duties as a phlebotomist oftentimes involves much more than to simply draw blood for testing procedures or donations.
Even though drawing blood is the main job of these professionals, they also have other tasks like patient consulting, keeping patient records up to date, blood prep work, keeping tools sterile, checking patient vitals and following safety procedures.
These are all tasks that they are responsible for as well.
This professional career can introduce you to the medical field without having to spend very much time in training like with some other health care positions. The majority of the time, there is no certification required for this position in order to practice.
The only exception would be for Louisiana or California as these states do mandate that a health care professional cannot draw blood unless they are certified. In most places it is not required although, it is likely that you will have a hard time finding an employer that will hire you without your certification.
This means that if you want to find a good position, you will have to follow the training procedures to become certified and work as a phlebotomist.
Their are a few different ways you can become a certified phlebotomist:
1. You can take your phlebotomy training at a Private Institution in your local area and receive your phlebotomy certification.
2. You can take your phlebotomy training online, in which case you will have to find your own clinical placement
3. You can earn your medical assistant degree, in which case you are now a medical assistant and a phlebomotist (package deal)
4. You can check your local community colleges for courses being offered in phlebotomy or medical assisting.
Of all of these options I recommend the third. If your going to become a phlebotomist get your medical assistant degree too.
Phlebotomy is a great career, and to be honest its a lot of fun. There is a certain challenge involved in drawing blood from a persons arm that can keep this career interesting and ever changing. But if you only get your phlebotomy training you will not be nearly as marketable in the job market as you are as a medical assistant. Medical assistants can work in doctors offices, clinics, hospitals, their everywhere! Phlebotomy jobs are a bit harder to find and often times will be filled by more qualified medical assistants.
To get your certification you will have to attend a training school and get approved by one of these 3 agencies:
- American Society for Clinical Pathology,
- Association of Phlebotomy Technicians or
- National Phlebotomy Association.
Each agency has their own requirements as to under what conditions they will certify you and they include:
- A high school degree or GED
- A number of class training hours ranging from 40 to 160
- Clinical training hours of at least 120
- An internship
- sufficient venipunctures
- skin pricks
This means that you will have to finish your training and meet all requirements before you can become certified. The accredited training program can be no less than 200 course hours. The programs are typically offered by medical training schools and colleges and last for 1-2 semesters or 1 year in order to get a diploma or certificate. Make sure that when you sign up for your training that it is from a school that is accredited and meets internship requirements or it won’t count for anything. At the end of your training, you will have to take a state exam and pass it in order to get your certification. You can skip the formal training and still get certified if you have at least 6 months of hands on experience with phlebotomy.
Having the certification can mean a better position and better pay. It also speaks very nicely of you on a resume because it lets the prospective employer know that you are truly qualified to fit the position.
Working as a phlebotomist offers a salary on a yearly basis of around $24,350. This can be even more with extra training, experience and depending on position and location as well. The typical work week in this position is 40 hours.