A phlebotomist facilitates the collection and transportation of laboratory specimens and is often the patient’s only contact with the medical laboratory. Learn about the profession, how to become certified, and employment information.
Phlebotomy technicians must be accurate, work well under pressure and communicate effectively. They must bring a calm presence to patients, prioritize safety precautions to prevent the transmission of infectious diseases. If this sounds like a role that plays to your strengths, read on to learn about the phlebotomy technician (PT) profession, how to become certified and job outlook.
What Does a Phlebotomy Technician Do?
A phlebotomist facilitates the collection and transportation of laboratory specimens and is often the patient’s only contact with the medical laboratory. The primary function of a phlebotomy technician (PT) is to obtain patient blood specimens by venipuncture or microtechniques. The PT aids in the collection and transportation of other laboratory specimens and may be involved with patient data entry. A phlebotomy technician also draws blood for transfusions, donations and research.
Duties of a PT differ by doctor’s office, hospital and laboratory but may include:
- 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
Where Do Phlebotomy Technicians Work?
Phlebotomists work mainly in hospitals, medical and diagnostic laboratories and blood donor centers.
The Path to Becoming a Phlebotomy Technician
A phlebotomy technician must have a high school diploma or GED with acceptable training. Phlebotomists typically enter the occupation by completing a postsecondary phlebotomy program. Phlebotomy technician programs are available at many accredited colleges and career schools. Phlebotomy training courses at colleges or career schools vary in length and usually lead to a certificate of completion, and in some cases a diploma. Almost all employers look for phlebotomists who have earned professional certification.
Getting Licensed and Certified
Each state decides licensing requirements for phlebotomy technicians, but most states do not require licensing at this time. California requires all phlebotomy technicians to be certified and to have a state license.
Employers prefer to hire experienced workers and may prefer certified applicants who have passed a national examination, such as the exam offered by American Medical Technologists (AMT), indicating that the phlebotomy technician meets certain standards of competence. Choosing a certifying body is just as important as choosing a school or phlebotomy program. When you choose a certification that is rigorous and practical, you are showing employers and patients that they can trust your skills and knowledge.
To get certified through AMT, you must meet certain eligibility criteria and pass an exam. Those who meet the requirements have an excellent chance of passing the certification exam.
The examinations supporting the certification programs are intended to assess the knowledge underlying the competent performance of primary tasks typically required of healthcare practitioners at entry into an occupation. AMT’s RPT certification is targeted at individuals who are completing their education as well as those who already work in the field but are not yet certified. We target entry level practitioners across all states in the US and through our eligibility criteria identify those who qualify to be certified by AMT. If you are interested in becoming certified through AMT visit our Phlebotomy Technician page to see if you are eligible.
Want help choosing the application route that's right for you?
Phlebotomy Technician Job Outlook
Phlebotomy technicians are in high demand. Vacancies have increased significantly as many employers need to hire three shifts of technicians. Employment of phlebotomists is projected to grow 22 percent from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations. Hospitals, diagnostic laboratories, blood donor centers and other locations will need phlebotomists to perform blood work.
Phlebotomy Technician Salary
Earnings for phlebotomists vary depending on experience, education and skill level. Phlebotomy technicians are typically paid hourly, and pay varies by state, shift, schooling and experience. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for phlebotomists was $36,320 in May 2020, or about $17.46 per hour.
Want To Learn More?
Visit the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Check out our blog on the Dorothy “Mimi” Roush Phlebotomy Endowment, which grants a free phlebotomy technician certification exam through AMT to four in-need applicants each year.