Phlebotomists

Summary

phlebotomists image
Phlebotomists draw blood for tests, transfusions, research, or blood donations.
Quick Facts: Phlebotomists
2012 Median Pay $29,730 per year
$14.29 per hour
Entry-Level Education Postsecondary non-degree award
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2012 101,300
Job Outlook, 2012-22 27% (Much faster than average)
Employment Change, 2012-22 27,100

What Phlebotomists Do

Phlebotomists draw blood for tests, transfusions, research, or blood donations. Some explain their work to patients and provide assistance when patients have adverse reactions after their blood is drawn.

Work Environment

Phlebotomists work mainly in hospitals, medical and diagnostic laboratories, blood donor centers, and doctor’s offices.

How to Become a Phlebotomist

Phlebotomists typically enter the occupation with a postsecondary nondegree award from a phlebotomy program. Almost all employers look for phlebotomists who have earned professional certification.

Pay

The median annual wage for phlebotomists was $29,730 in May 2012.

Job Outlook

Employment of phlebotomists is projected to grow 27 percent from 2012 to 2022, much faster than the average for all occupations. Hospitals, diagnostic laboratories, blood donor centers, and other locations will need phlebotomists to perform blood work.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of phlebotomists with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about phlebotomists by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Phlebotomists Do

phlebotomists image
Phlebotomists talk with patients and donors so they are less nervous about having their blood drawn.

Phlebotomists draw blood for tests, transfusions, research, or blood donations. Some of them explain their work to patients and provide assistance if patients have adverse reactions after their blood is drawn.

Duties

Phlebotomists typically do the following:

  • Draw blood from patients and blood donors
  • Talk with patients and donors so they are less nervous about having their blood drawn
  • Verify a patient or donor’s identity to ensure proper labeling
  • Label the drawn blood for testing or processing
  • Enter patient information into an onsite database
  • Assemble and maintain medical instruments such as needles, test tubes, and blood vials

Phlebotomists primarily draw blood, which is then used for different kinds of medical laboratory testing. In medical and diagnostic laboratories, patient interaction is often only with the phlebotomist. Because all blood samples look the same, phlebotomists must identify and label the sample they have drawn and enter it into a database. Some phlebotomists draw blood for other purposes, such as at blood drives where people donate blood. In order to avoid causing infection or other complications, phlebotomists must keep their work area and instruments clean and sanitary.

Work Environment

phlebotomists image
Phlebotomists work mainly in hospitals, medical and diagnostic laboratories, and doctor’s offices.

Phlebotomists held about 101,300 jobs in 2012.

Phlebotomists work mainly in hospitals, medical and diagnostic laboratories, blood donor centers, and doctor’s offices.

The industries that employed the most phlebotomists in 2012 were as follows:

General medical and surgical
hospitals; state, local, and private
40%
Medical and diagnostic laboratories26
Other ambulatory health care services18
Offices of physicians9

Work Schedules

Most phlebotomists work full time. Some phlebotomists, particularly those who work in hospitals and labs, are expected to work on nights, weekends, and holidays.

How to Become a Phlebotomist

phlebotomists image
Many employers look for phlebotomists who have completed some kind of professional certification.

Phlebotomists typically enter the occupation with a postsecondary nondegree award from a phlebotomy program.

Education

Phlebotomists typically enter the occupation with a postsecondary non-degree award from a phlebotomy program. Programs for phlebotomy are available from community colleges, vocational schools, or technical schools. These programs usually take less than 1 year to complete and lead to a certificate or diploma. Programs have classroom and laboratory portions and include instruction in anatomy, physiology, and medical terminology.

Some phlebotomists may enter the occupation with a high school diploma and are trained to be a phlebotomist on the job.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Almost all employers prefer to hire phlebotomists who have earned professional certification.

Several organizations offer certifications for phlebotomists. The National Center for Competency Testing, the American Society for Clinical Pathology, and the American Medical Technologists (AMT) offer Phlebotomy Technician certifications.

Certification candidates typically need some classroom education, as well as some clinical experience. Certification testing usually includes an exam and may include practical components, such as drawing blood. Requirements vary by certifying organization. Phlebotomists must be certified in California, Louisiana, and Nevada.

Training

Phlebotomists usually get on-the-job training in their workplace to learn specific procedures on how their employers collect and track blood.

Those with just a high school diploma get some on-the-job training in how to be a phlebotomist.

Important Qualities

Compassion. Some patients or clients are afraid of having their blood drawn, so phlebotomists should show care when they perform their duties.

Detail oriented. Phlebotomists must draw the correct vials of blood for the tests ordered, track vials of blood, and enter data into a database. Attention to detail is necessary; otherwise, the specimens may be misplaced or lost, or a patient may be injured.

Dexterity. Phlebotomists work with their hands, and they must be able to use their equipment efficiently and properly.

Hand-eye coordination. Phlebotomists draw blood from many patients, and they must perform their duties on the first attempt, or their patients will experience discomfort.

Pay

Phlebotomists

Median annual wages, May 2012

Total, all occupations

$34,750

Miscellaneous healthcare support occupations

$30,430

Phlebotomists

$29,730

 

The median annual wage for phlebotomists was $29,730 in May 2012. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $21,340, and the top 10 percent earned more than $42,600.

Most phlebotomists work full time. Some phlebotomists, particularly those who work in hospitals and labs, are expected to work on nights, weekends, and holidays.

Job Outlook

Phlebotomists

Percent change in employment, projected 2012-22

Phlebotomists

27%

Miscellaneous healthcare support occupations

23%

Total, all occupations

11%

 

Employment of phlebotomists is projected to grow 27 percent from 2012 to 2022, much faster than the average for all occupations. Hospitals, diagnostic laboratories, blood donor centers, and other locations will need phlebotomists to perform blood work.

Blood analysis remains an essential function in medical laboratories and hospitals. Demand for phlebotomists will remain high as doctors and other healthcare professionals require blood work for analysis and diagnoses.

However, federal health legislation will expand the number of patients who have access to health insurance, increasing patient access to medical care. As hospitals and medical laboratories evaluate their staffing needs, phlebotomists may be replaced by other more skilled healthcare workers.

Job Prospects

Job prospects are best for phlebotomists who receive certification from one of several reputable organizations.

Employment projections data for Phlebotomists, 2012-22
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2012 Projected Employment, 2022 Change, 2012-22 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Phlebotomists

31-9097 101,300 128,400 27 27,100 [XLS]

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of phlebotomists.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION 2012 MEDIAN PAY
Dental assistants

Dental Assistants

Dental assistants have many tasks, ranging from providing patient care and taking x rays to recordkeeping and scheduling appointments. Their duties vary by state and by the dentists’ offices where they work.

Postsecondary non-degree award $34,500
Medical assistants

Medical Assistants

Medical assistants complete administrative and clinical tasks in the offices of physicians, podiatrists, chiropractors, and other health practitioners. Their duties vary with the location, specialty, and size of the practice.

Postsecondary non-degree award $29,370
Medical and clinical laboratory technologists and technicians

Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians

Medical laboratory technologists (commonly known as medical laboratory scientists) and medical laboratory technicians collect samples and perform tests to analyze body fluids, tissue, and other substances.

See How to Become One $47,820
Medical records and health information technicians

Medical Records and Health Information Technicians

Medical records and health information technicians, commonly referred to as health information technicians, organize and manage health information data. They ensure its quality, accuracy, accessibility, and security in both paper and electronic systems. They use various classification systems to code and categorize patient information for insurance reimbursement purposes, for databases and registries, and to maintain patients’ medical and treatment histories.

Postsecondary non-degree award $34,160
Medical transcriptionists

Medical Transcriptionists

Medical transcriptionists listen to voice recordings that physicians and other healthcare professionals make and convert them into written reports. They may also review and edit medical documents created using speech recognition technology. Transcriptionists interpret medical terminology and abbreviations in preparing patients’ medical histories, discharge summaries, and other documents.

Postsecondary non-degree award $34,020
Physician assistants

Physician Assistants

Physician assistants, also known as PAs, practice medicine on a team under the supervision of physicians and surgeons. They are formally educated to examine patients, diagnose injuries and illnesses, and provide treatment.

Master’s degree $90,930
Veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers

Veterinary Assistants and Laboratory Animal Caretakers

Veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers look after animals in laboratories, animal hospitals, and clinics. They care for the well-being of animals by performing routine tasks under the supervision of veterinarians, scientists, and veterinary technologists and technicians.

High school diploma or equivalent $23,130
Veterinary technologists and technicians

Veterinary Technologists and Technicians

Veterinary technologists and technicians perform medical tests under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian to help diagnose the illnesses and injuries of animals.

Associate’s degree $30,290
Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Phlebotomists,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/phlebotomists.htm (visited October 25, 2014).

Publish Date: Wednesday, January 8, 2014