The Career Information You Need to be Successful in the Phlebotomy Profession

We congratulate you on discovering the rewarding phlebotomy technician career field! Your decision to consider the phlebotomist profession as a potential career path is sure to bring several years of personal and professional satisfaction. Few industries in the US economy enjoy the level of growth that the medical sector is now experiencing. Today, the medical field employs over 20% of the workforce and continues to expand its hiring efforts as it struggles to meet the healthcare needs of a growing population and an aging baby-boom generation. Visitors who do decide to pursue this profession can anticipate consistent job growth and advancement for the foreseeable future.

An established healthcare system is one of the fundamental components of a well developed country. With the population of the United States projected to reach 350 million by the year 2030, the need for an expanded medical infrastructure and a larger number of allied healthcare workers has become apparent. In addition, the thousands of Baby Boomers who are retiring each day along with the recent expansion of national health insurance coverage to those who were previously uninsured has resulted in an influx of patients. Increased demand for medical care means that hospitals, medical centers, and independent healthcare facilities will need to hire additional personnel to help manage large patient loads.

As the burden of providing high quality care to the public becomes more challenging, the need for phlebotomists will continue to increase. While some may see this trend as an insurmountable problem, others recognize it as an opportunity to position oneself for continued career advancement. Although a career in healthcare can be stressful at times, those who are passionate about improving the health of patients while being employed in an entry-level clinical profession may discover that this is the ideal work environment for them. The amount of personal and professional satisfaction that can come from helping others optimize their physical condition is a unique experience that cannot be found in most sectors of the economy. Becoming a valued member of the medical team is often a point of pride for those who work diligently on the front lines of the healthcare industry each and every day.

What is a Phlebotomist?

A phlebotomist is someone who specializes in the collection of blood samples from a patient. These samples are typically ordered by a physician who has requested that the laboratory run tests on a patient or who is conducting research and transfusions. The phlebotomist may also work for blood donation drives and is often available to assist individuals who experience adverse reactions from the drawing of their blood. Because patients tend to experience a high level of anxiety associated with having their blood drawn, the phlebotomy technician must be skilled at easing the patient’s worries and assuring them that they will not suffer harm. It is also the technician’s job to both identify and label different types of samples that are collected. All phlebotomists must handle needles, test tubes, and vials in their normal course of work. In most facilities, the technician will document their actions in a paper or electronic medical record.

Phlebotomist Job Description

The technical responsibilities included in the phlebotomy technician job description are fairly predictable regardless of where an individual is employed. In most healthcare facilities, the phlebotomist specializes in the collection and the preparation of blood samples. Common tasks include…

  • Drawing blood
  • Addressing patient anxiety
  • Confirming patient identity
  • Labeling blood samples for analysis
  • Documenting in paper and electronic record systems
  • Monitoring supplies such as needles, tubes, and vials
  • Participating in staff meetings
  • Communicating with medical personnel
  • Preparing and presenting reports

Additional responsibilities may be incorporated into the phlebotomy technician job description based on many factors that include the type of medical establishment, the patient population being managed, the size of the employer, and the availability of supportive staff. In addition to the responsibilities outlined above, individuals who are considering this profession should be willing to prepare laboratory requisition forms, dispose of blood products, process billing information, organize and sterilize medical equipment, understand and abide by state and federal laws regarding the collection of blood samples, transport samples to the laboratory, and maintain up-to-date training and credentials.

Phlebotomist Salary and Employment Outlook

The phlebotomy technician is an indespensable member of the healthcare team who is responsible for performing a very important service. In general, the earning potential of someone who works in this profession is reflective of the value that they add to the provision of care process, the level of education and training required to enter the profession, type of employer, prior experience, and geographic location. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual phlebotomist salary as of May 2012 was around $29,730. The lowest ten percent of workers brought home less than $21,340 while the top ten percent of earners took home more than $42,600. With such a wide range of earnings, one can see how much these factors might affect the size of the phlebotomist salary.

Demand for phlebotomy technicians is very high in the current medical environment and is expected to grow by 27% over the next 10 years. One of the main reasons for these strong employment statistics is the fact that so many different facilities depend on the services that a phlebotomist provides. Nearly all medical establishments in the US perform some form of blood analysis as part of their comprehensive care package. Other factors contributing to growth in this profession include a larger population, the thousands of Baby Boomers now entering their senior years, and the recent expansion of medical insurance to millions of Americans who had lacked coverage. To address the needs of the growing patient population, many healthcare facilities are increasing the size of their physical establishments and hiring more allied health professionals.

Phlebotomy Training and Experience

The phlebotomist career path offers an excellent entry-level employment opportunity for individuals who want to work in the healthcare industry, but who have no interest in committing several years of their life to a college degree and post-graduate training. In most cases, phlebotomy training is acquired through the completion of a vocational certificate program that lasts no more than 12 months. These programs are typically offered by local community colleges and technical schools. In order to be accepted into one of these programs, applicants are generally required to have a high school diploma or equivalent. Throughout the course of the program, students complete both clinical and classroom work that provides them with the knowledge and skills that they will need to become successful. Additional experience may be acquired through on-the-job training and employer provided instruction.

Phlebotomy Technician Certification

State and federal regulatory agencies generally do not require a phlebotomy technician to be licensed in order to provide services in the medical setting. While the profession is fairly unregulated, most employers prefer to hire applicants who have demonstrated competence through the completion of at least one nationally recognized phlebotomy technician certification exam. There are many organizations that offer well-respected exams that can be completed once an individual has had an adequate amount of time to prepare. Most choose to sit for an exam following the completion of a certificate program or in-house training.

Those who plan to sit for a phlebotomy technician certification exam are encouraged to discuss their exam options with potential employers before scheduling a test date. Some establishments require applicants to complete a specific exam and may choose not to accept the results from an unapproved organization. A couple of the most well-respected organizations that offer certification exams for this profession include the National Center for Competency Testing, The American Society for Clinical Pathology, and the American Medical Technologist. Some states require individuals who work in this profession to become certified prior to offering services to the public.