Phlebotomists

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What Phlebotomists Do[About this section] [To Top]

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 of Phlebotomists

Phlebotomists typically do the following:

  • Draw blood from patients and blood donors
  • Talk with patients and donors to help them feel less nervous about having their blood drawn
  • Verify a patient’s or donor’s identity to ensure proper labeling of the blood
  • Label the drawn blood for testing or processing
  • Enter patient information into a 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 for Phlebotomists[About this section] [To Top]

Phlebotomists hold about 112,700 jobs. The industries that employ the most phlebotomists are as follows:

Hospitals; state, local, and private 38%
Medical and diagnostic laboratories 28
Other ambulatory healthcare services 18
Offices of physicians 9

Phlebotomists work mainly in hospitals, medical and diagnostic laboratories, blood donor centers, and doctors’ offices. Phlebotomists who collect blood donations sometimes travel to different offices and sites in order to set up mobile donation centers.

Phlebotomist Work Schedules

Most phlebotomists work full time. Some phlebotomists, particularly those who work in hospitals and labs, may need to work nights, weekends, and holidays.

How to Become a Phlebotomist[About this section] [To Top]

Get the education you need: Find schools for Phlebotomists near you!

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.

Phlebotomist Education and Training

Phlebotomists typically enter the occupation with a postsecondary nondegree award from a phlebotomy program. Programs 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 sessions and laboratory work and include instruction in anatomy, physiology, and medical terminology. Phlebotomists also learn specific procedures on how to identify, label, and track blood samples.

Many phlebotomists 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 (NCCT), National Healthcareer Association (NHA), the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP), and the American Medical Technologists (AMT) offer Phlebotomy Technician certifications.

Candidates for certification typically need some classroom education, as well as some clinical experience. Certification testing usually includes a written exam and may include practical components, such as drawing blood. Requirements vary by certifying organization. California, Louisiana, Nevada, and Washington require their phlebotomists to be certified.

Important Qualities for Phlebotomists

Compassion. Some patients or clients are afraid of having their blood drawn, so phlebotomists should be caring in performing 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 successfully on the first attempt, or their patients will experience discomfort.

Phlebotomist Salaries[About this section] [More salary/earnings info] [To Top]

The median annual wage for phlebotomists is $31,630. 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 $22,850, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $45,190.

The median annual wages for phlebotomists in the top industries in which they work are as follows:

Medical and diagnostic laboratories $33,270
Offices of physicians 30,720
Other ambulatory healthcare services 30,510
Hospitals; state, local, and private 30,470

Most phlebotomists work full time. Some phlebotomists, particularly those who work in hospitals and labs, may need to work nights, weekends, and holidays.

Job Outlook for Phlebotomists[About this section] [To Top]

Employment of phlebotomists is projected to grow 25 percent over the next ten years, much faster than the average for all occupations. Hospitals, diagnostic laboratories, blood donor centers, and other locations will need phlebotomists to perform bloodwork.

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

The number of individuals who have access to health insurance is expected to continue to increase because of federal health insurance reform. There will be greater demand for blood tests and other bloodwork-related services, increasing the need for phlebotomists.

Phlebotomists Job Prospects

Job prospects are greatest for phlebotomists who receive certification from one of several reputable organizations, such as the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT), National Healthcareer Association (NHA), the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP), or the American Medical Technologists (AMT).

Employment projections data for Phlebotomists, 2014-24
Occupational Title Employment, 2014 Projected Employment, 2024 Change, 2014-24
Percent Numeric
Phlebotomists 112,700 140,800 25 28,100


*Some content used by permission of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor.

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