What is a Phlebotomist?
In the United States, a phlebotomist is considered to be one of the medical professionals that has the main duty of drawing a patient’s blood by using sanitary and safe methods of blood collection. The blood is used for various procedures that can usually involve research, laboratory tests, transfusion and donation. The collected blood tests are also used in order to diagnose various illnesses or to evaluate the way that a medical treatment is proving itself to be efficient or not.
A phlebotomist, among other chores, is also responsible for following the safety protocols in order to avoid the contact with the blood due to a variety of diseases that can be transmitted this way such as HIV or hepatitis. These professionals are in charge with the storage section, the accurate and exact labeling of the samples as well as with the process of transportation.
All the work of a phlebotomist is taking place under the supervision of a medical laboratory scientist. The whole process of drawing or taking the blood is made by venipuncture that usually involves an incision in the vein in order to draw blood.
Phlebotomist Career Information
A phlebotomist career involves many times dealing with various patients and people. Some of the patients might have a fear of needles, this requiring an excellent ability to make them feel relaxed. As a phlebotomist, not all the patients have the same attitude when entering in contact with the facility or the field. You’ll encounter difficult situations that will put you under pressure of handling emotional, stressed, or angry individuals.
In all the situations when people come into a clinical laboratory for blood tests, you will be the first one they will get in contact with. Your main duty is to test and analyze the blood samples, by collecting it first with sophisticated equipment. The area in which you are working has to be well sanitized and clean after every patient, following the safety procedures and protocols.
Working as a phlebotomist you’ll have plenty of places where to choose from. According to the facility you’ll be on duty from 7a.m up until 7p.m, during the week while on weekends the hours will depend. A very stressful work environment is usually found in the public health facilities that are overcrowded and busy.
Reasons to be a Phlebotomist
If you ever wonder what a career in phlebotomy is like? And what will you gain if you’ll choose to become a Phlebotomist? Here are five top reasons for choosing to become a phlebotomist:
- This job is always in demand
All across the US, there are people that will always need intensive medical care. As a phlebotomist, you are both a vital and crucial link in the healthcare medical system. When a patient enters the gates of a hospital or any medical facility in order to get diagnosed, blood drawing is required, followed by the testing that will reveal the problem they are facing.
Whether you choose to work inside of a hospital being surrounded by other phlebotomists or you would just prefer to treat patients in a small clinical setting, finding employment is not a difficult job since there are plenty new and actual work opportunities.
- Chances for advancement in the field
If you are thinking of finding other medical careers, a phlebotomy career is a good way to start within the medical system. This career allows you to understand the interaction with doctors, the routines that are to be found in the facilities, the responsibilities that appear when working with patients, along with the dynamic of the medicine. This career is good in helping you develop skills and learn about keeping records, training in the computer area, as well as professionalism.
- Good salary
The median income for a phlebotomist starts from $30,010 per year that is considered to be one of the good paying positions for a healthcare technician. Almost all the phlebotomists have that opportunity to work extra hours and get overtime payment. Hospitals are looking to hire individuals that are able and willing to work night shifts.
- Certification – it’s a short qualification to obtain
A phlebotomist is not a Doctor or a Nurse to need four or five years of training in how to cure various diseases or how to prepare the patients for any kind of surgery. Their job involves an exact routine and is quite specialized, this involving a minimum number of classes to obtain certification. You can find the place that will best suit you, since classes are taught in vocational schools, health care facilities as well as colleges from the community. The number of the classes that you’ll require is comprised between 150 and 200 hours, the length of the study being almost one year.
- A flexible schedule
One of the main reasons and preferences why phlebotomists choose a career like this according to the BLS or else known as the Bureau of Labor Statistics is that these professionals have the opportunity to make their own schedule. Besides that, phlebotomists can choose the duration of their work or the location where they would like to work.
Required Skills to Become a Phlebotomist
When becoming a phlebotomist one of the first required skills is the fine and good attention to details as well as a proper organization. The correct labeling of the blood test is very important especially if the person that is being tested has to deal or is suspicious of a virus or a life treating disease. To be proficient at work means all the time to be able to make the patient’s blood collection as good as it can be. This also involves the ability of performing the procedure as pain free as possible.
Another required skill in this career is having a very good dexterity and being able to work well under pressure by keeping a calm attitude in all the situations. Since these professional encounter more than twenty patients in a day, each having various reasons for their blood collection, and each with various attitudes, if phlebotomists lose their focus everything can go wrong. Problems can occur from tests that were not taken correctly because of a wrong labeling, to a cross-contamination of the samples.
As a phlebotomist, both the communication and the listening skills are crucial in this field. There is a huge difference between a patient free of stress because you’ve listened and you’ve adjusted to the patient’s needs or that you’ve ignored everything and you’ve ended up with being in a stressful situation with the patient. In order to successfully insert a needle in a vein you’ll also need great motor skills.
How Long Does it Take to Become a Phlebotomist?
Becoming a future phlebotomist is a step by step process. First, you’ll need to have a high school diploma or a GED and to be at least 18 years of age. These per-requisites will allow you to enroll in one of the accredited training programs that usually take place at a college or in a technical school. According to the training program the length of them is estimated to be from one or two semesters or in other cases it will last from four to eight months. This shows that the education program is less than one year.
After this step is over you’ll get the opportunity to become a certified phlebotomist. Certifications are usually granted and available from various organizations such as the AMT or else known the American Medical Technologists, or from the American Society of Clinical Pathologists. Gaining a certification will resume at 12 months of preparation assuming that you also have a job.
Each individual must submit to the requirements set by organizations in every state when gaining certification. Requirements might also differ according to the specialization, so it is best to check with the health department that is present in the place where you want to work.
The American Medical Technologist organization requires that the candidates must have graduated from an accredited and accepted training program. Another requirement is that they need to have completed 1,042 hours of experience at a working site. Lastly, they must prove that the certification examination was passed with success.
There are to be taken into consideration some states such as California that will require phlebotomists to have a licensure in order to be able to legally work and practice in that state. Depending on the program you choose, the entire process shouldn’t last more than 6 and up to 10 months.
How to Become a Phlebotomist?
Becoming a phlebotomist will get you only benefits in the medical healthcare system. The career itself is seen and considered as an entry-level first step towards more complex job opportunities such as registered nurse, medical doctor or even nursing assistant. This is a great start, since this job will make you discover if working with patients is something that you are looking for to do further on. However, there are also phlebotomists that are really content with this career choice for themselves. It’s up to you what you want to do next.
But before you’ll get to become a phlebotomist, there are some clear objectives that you’ll need to take into consideration. Even though you don’t need remarkable results when being in high school, you’ll still need to be careful with your grades. After getting your high school diploma or the equivalent of it: the GED, and you are 18 of age, you’ll be able to enroll into an accredited phlebotomy training program. Having great grades in high school at subjects such as chemistry and biology will offer you a better advantage in competing with other applicants for a course in phlebotomy.
Once you’ve realized that being a phlebotomist is the great path for you, then it comes to find the most suitable school for you in your area. The training programs that are usually offered have a length of less than a year and will lead you to learn and develop the basic skills that are required when applying as a phlebotomist. Among the skills you’ll learn is how to draw the blood from a patient in various possible ways by using equipment and various techniques and others. With this theoretical part the practical part will also come, in which you’ll do hands-on practice in medical facilities such as laboratories and hospitals.
After you’ve completed the training program it is best if you get certified, even though it is not usually a requirement to start working as a phlebotomist. The reason is that many employers that seek to hire phlebotomists will ask you to have it. Advanced certifications will give you the opportunity of an increased income and will allow you to perform a broader range of activities at work as a phlebotomist.
Certifications in the US for phlebotomists are offered by certain organizations, as those reminded earlier such as the ASCP else known as the American Society for Clinical Pathology, NHA else known as the National Healthcareer Association, and nevertheless the AMT or the American Medical Technologists, that is the most common.
In California, Louisiana and Nevada, you are required before getting hired to have a certification. What is even more interesting about the state of California is the fact that you are also required to possess a license. The good news is that California is considered to offer the highest paying salaries.
With all the before mentioned steps fulfilled only one thing remains – getting the job. With a constant increase in the demand for phlebotomists and other healthcare professionals it won’t be hard to find a job even after you’ve completed all the requirements.
A great tip for you would be to start being active even before you finish with all the education. At the practical part when you are doing the practice in the hospital make sure that you’ll socialize with the staff, make friends, as well as go to the HR and find which are the available employment opportunities. Don’t let it slip through your fingers.
When it comes to the education, you’ll want to learn from the best trainers and schools, where you’ll learn how to safely extract the blood samples. Certificate programs for phlebotomists can be found in various universities.
Some can be encountered at public state universities such as the University of Alaska in Anchorage and the Ferris State University in Big Rapids. In the first one the length range of the courses is comprised from 3 to 5 and it can contain a professional practicum as well. The training school program provides courses in record keeping as well as infection control. As a student, you’ll learn how to collect and process blood.
At the Ferries State University, the Department of Clinical Laboratory Science, Respiratory Care and Health Care Administration grants degrees and certifications in respiratory care, medical laboratory technology and other.
Top schools of phlebotomy can be found in various areas across the US, some of them being located in Bellevue, Washington-the Bellevue College, Columbia Basin College in Pasco, Washington, Davenport University in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Dixie State College of Utah – in Saint George, Utah and a few others as well.
The salary of a phlebotomist is influenced by various factors that decide the economic flux on the income market. The annual median wages for these professionals are estimated to have an average of $31,632 per year. The earnings can increase or decrease based on the lower or upper points, the industry in which one individual has found work, the regions, areas or states in which the jobs are located, years of experience, type of employment and other factors as well.
In this field the top paying industries that hire phlebotomists are to be found in the areas for Pharmaceutical and Medicine Manufacturing where the granted annual wage gets around $48,762 per year. Then we should mention Local Government that provides incomes reaching at an annual mean wage that goes around $37,951 per year as well as others.
When it comes to the employment with the highest concentration for this jobs the best choices are to be linked with industries such as Medical and Diagnostic Laboratories where the yearly mean wages that are received get as high as around $33,612 per year, as well as Offices of Physicians where the granted mean wages reach up to $32,362 per year.
The location is one other factor that affects the salaries of phlebotomists. The incomes with the highest level of employment can be found in areas such as California, New York, Florida, Texas and a few others. For instance, in California the yearly mean wage gets somewhere around $38,962 per year with an hourly wage of $18.74 per hour, while in New York the estimated annual mean wage reaches at $38,102 per year with an hourly wage that reaches at $18.33 per hour. Obviously, these areas are among the top choices for Phlebotomists.
The best options when it comes to each state are those who will grant you top paying salaries for this occupation. For instance, you can find best job deals in California, New York, District of Columbia, and Connecticut. Here in the District of Columbia, the estimated yearly mean wage gets around $40,382 per year while in Connecticut the incomes tend to be at around $37,853 per year.
According to the years of experience factor, the fact is that incomes have different value points. A phlebotomist with 1 and up to 4 years can expect to gain an income that usually ranges from $19,919 per year and up to $39,912 per year, while one professional with 5 and up to 9 years of experience earns an income estimated to be somewhere around $18,556 per year and up to $39,164 per year.
Those who already have between 10 and 19 years of practice with plenty of knowledge can expect at a payment that is comprised from $24,534 per year and up to $43,314 per year. phlebotomists with more than 20 years of work activity and with plenty of experience will gain a salary that ranges from $23,491 per year and up to $50,044 per year, according to the salary data survey provided by PayScale.
There is also a difference in the incomes of the men compared with those of women. For instance men in this field tend to gain a salary that is estimated between $21,448 and up to $49,843 per year, while phlebotomist women will earn between $20,778 per year and up to $40,751 per year.
The salaries of these professionals also vary according to the professional certification that one individual has accomplished. For instance, those who have an ASCP Certified Phlebotomy Technician qualification can expect to earn somewhere between $20,441 per year and up to $42,846 per year while those with a CMA else known as a Certified Medical Assistant typically receive an income that is comprised between $19,783 and up to $43,102 yearly. A phlebotomist with a certification in CPR or else known as Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation can expect to gain between $24,748 per year and up to $42,610 per year.
Phlebotomist Job Outlook
Phlebotomist job employment has a projection of 24% rate of increase for the next couple of years that is faster than the usual average for all occupations. The main factors that impact and affect the employment rate increase are the number of demands for these professionals, as well as the elderly population that is growing in numbers and that has more need for medical care.
As a future outlook, a career in phlebotomy offers great stability and security, with plenty of job opportunities and various facilities to choose from. You can either choose to work in the area of a hospital, a private practice, clinics, or blood donation sites. Phlebotomy is a great field to work in especially if you are enjoying drawing blood and testing and having to deal with a lot of patients on a daily basis.
A job or a career in phlebotomy will bring chances for advancement as well, or a related career way that will allow individuals to enter in the healthcare medical field. Alternative career paths include in many ways plenty of tasks that are to be fulfilled. Similar jobs related to Phlebotomy are Pathologist Assistant, Patient Care Technician, Medical Assistant, Medical Technologist, Intravenous Technician, Cytotechnologist and a few others that are related to this career.
For instance, a Medical Technologist or else known as a Medical Lab Technician has tasks or duties that are similar to the ones of a phlebotomist. They are laboratory professionals that are usually preparing the samples and specimens for various tests in the laboratory. Diagnostic testing procedures are usually accomplished with the tests, procedures that are used to detect mainly the nature of a certain disease, or a condition as well as put diagnose to the cause.
An Intravenous Technician is one of the medical professionals also known as an IV technician that has the main duty to start an intravenous line that represents an incision or an injection into a vein. This procedure also known as IV grants the process of administering the proper medication. The incision steps are quite similar to those performed by a phlebotomist.
A Patient Care Technician or more commonly known as a PCT, is a professional that has some daily duties that are similar to a phlebotomist technician. As medical specialists they need to know how to use in a proper manner the equipment and how to perform accurate procedures of venipuncture. Even though their responsibilities vary according to their place of employment it can include a patient connection to the oxygen monitor, dress wounds and administer oxygen as well as others.
Pathologist Assistant jobs are mainly concentrated in helping the pathologists by examining the biological tissues of patients in order to detect a disease and corpses where the routines are in cases of autopsies when it is needed to establish the clear cause of death. Administrative work is also performed by this professionals, and involves keeping records and filling.
The field of allied-healthcare includes many careers that are related with the one of a phlebotomist that are usually accomplished through various trainings and credentials. Many of these career paths require skills that are usually taught in a phlebotomy training program.
Conclusion about the Phlebotomist Career
A career in phlebotomy always has its rewards since there are many individuals that want to figure out the diseases that they are currently dealing with, and blood samples are the way to go through. The incomes of phlebotomists like every other jobs have upper and lower points on the economic market that are influenced by various factors that affect the earnings.
This career is great for individuals that like to interact with patients and help them discover the truth beyond the symptoms and conditions. The future outlook for a phlebotomist is a good one with a great level of satisfaction among the employees, with a flexible schedule and plenty of locations to choose from.