How to Become a Phlebotomist | A Complete Guide

A phlebotomist or phlebotomy technician draws and collects blood from patients and donors.

Blood collection allows medical professionals to perform tests to determine a person’s health and possible health concerns.

Alternatively, blood donations allow individuals to provide blood, platelets, or plasma to those requiring transfusions.

Phlebotomists also collect urine, bodily fluids, and stool samples to check for potential health issues.

Beyond that, phlebotomy technicians educate patients on blood collection/donation procedures and ensure their safety.

How To Become A Phlebotomist

The path to becoming a phlebotomist is reasonably straightforward.

Qualified Phlotomy candidates must obtain their diploma or GED before joining an accredited program.

Once accepted into the program, students spend 4 -12 months learning phlebotomy via classroom and hands-on training.

Students must pass the national phlebotomy technician certification exam to become certified at the end of the program.

The following section explains the steps necessary to become a phlebotomy technician.

As a result, you’ll better understand the process involved.

There are also answers to common questions about phlebotomy training, certification, and requirements.

Step 1: Obtain Your GED or Diploma

Before entering a program, those interested in becoming phlebotomists must have a diploma or GED.

Furthermore, those applying for the program must be at least 18 years old in most states. With that said, age requirements will vary in other countries.

Once you’ve obtained your degree, you may enroll in a phlebotomy program at a local college or technical school.

However, you must enroll in a nationally accredited phlebotomy program.

It’s necessary to ensure that the course is nationally certified.

It also gives you confidence that the programs will adequately train you in all aspects of phlebotomy.

Step 2: Enroll in an Accredited Phlebotomy Program

Students can apply to accredited phlebotomy programs through vocational/technical schools and community colleges.

Most phlebotomy programs take less than a year to complete.

That said, programs frequently last one to two semesters and can be completed in 4  – 8 months.

Before applying to a phlebotomy program, determine its accreditation to ensure that you choose a qualified institution.

Students learn the ins and outs of a phlebotomist’s daily responsibilities and healthcare practices in the training program.

It includes puncturing the skin, drawing blood through venipuncture, and arterial collection.

Students also train to administer CPR and First Aid, perform a urinalysis, and label and manage blood samples and other collection containers.

Finally, students learn about medical terminology, infection control procedures and policies, and other vital information.

It includes gathering and collecting patient data, learning about critical legal issues, and learning how to properly use and dispose of medical equipment.

Besides classroom studies, students learn hands-on skills at a local hospital, lab, or healthcare facility.

It ensures that students receive adequate training and know how to perform their duties.

During this time, instructors test students on skin puncturing, drawing and managing blood, and proper lab safety, among other topics.

Students applying for the program must meet specific requirements to be accepted.

Requirements for Program Acceptance:

  • Must be 18 years old
  • Complete a background check
  • Get drug test
  • Show Diploma/GED verification
  • Provide immunization records
  • CPR certification

Depending on the state and program, these requirements may vary.

Therefore, it’s essential to contact the local technical/vocational school or community college to determine their requirements.

Step 3: Get Certified

Upon completing the program, students must take the phlebotomy technician certification exam to become certified.

You can obtain certifications through organizations like the American Society for Clinical Pathology.

The AMT, NCCT, NCA, NHA, and numerous other agencies also offer certification.

National Phlebotomy Certification Agencies:

Students must determine where to take the certification exam from their college/technical school or community college.

Make sure the exam is state/nationally approved to avoid certification issues.

There are numerous certifications phlebotomists can take depending on their education, training, and preferences.

It includes certified phlebotomy technician I, certified phlebotomy technician II, and limited phlebotomy technician.

Phlebotomy Technician Levels:

  • Certified phlebotomy technician I
  • Certified phlebotomy technician II
  • Limited phlebotomy technician

Some states require a national certification before allowing individuals to work as phlebotomists.

Employers also usually prefer phlebotomists with a certification, even if it isn’t required.

Being certified influences hiring and earning the highest wages.

Finally, some states require students to pass a state certification to become phlebotomists.

This exam is separate from the national certification exam, which most states consider entry into phlebotomy.

Currently, these states include California, Louisiana, Nevada, and Washington.

Step 4: Apply for a Phlebotomy Job

After becoming certified as a phlebotomist, you can apply for work in various healthcare settings.

With that said, numerous facilities require phlebotomists with experience before accepting applications.

Phlebotomists that want to get hired without experience should look for entry-level work at a local clinic, facility, or hospital.

Consider hiring a professional resume writer to help display your skills and qualifications.

You can also volunteer for the red cross or another organization for several months to gain work experience.

The more experience and qualifications you have, the more likely you’ll get hired by a great company with good income potential.

Finally, utilize school placement services (if available) to help you locate a job after becoming certified.

It will make applying for work and entering the field more straightforward and efficient.

Best of all, if your school offers placement services, you can gain work experience that applies to future jobs.

Requirements for Getting Hired:

  • Must be 18 years old
  • Complete a background check
  • Take a drug test
  • Submission of phlebotomy technician diploma, certification of completion, or signed transcript
  • Provide immunization records
  • Present CPR certification

Don’t get discouraged if you don’t get hired immediately.

Many inexperienced phlebotomists are looking for jobs after becoming certified.

In this case, gain experience in a healthcare setting and transition into an area that needs qualified phlebotomists when a position becomes available.

It will increase your opportunities for salary increases and career advancement. Also, check BLS for the median annual wage for phlebotomists.

High-Paying Phlebotomist Jobs:

  • Director Travel Phlebomoty
  • Head of Hospital Phlebotomist
  • Contact Traveling Phlebotomist
  • Home Based Phlebotomist
  • Director Hospital Phlebotomist

Education and Exam Fees

Those interested in becoming phlebotomists are required to pay fees and institution expenses.

It includes paying for courses, books, uniforms, and other expenses.

This can quickly add up to hundreds of dollars to complete the courses and obtain certification.

Students regularly pay $500 – $1500 for tuition and class expenses. Here are the most common expenses phlebotomy students encounter.

Expenses for Phlebotomy Training:

  • School tuition fees
  • Books/uniform fees
  • Registration fees
  • Exam fees

You must pay the necessary fees to have your certification processed and released in most cases.

Furthermore, most institutions require fees to be paid within a specific period to obtain certification.

Students who fail to pay their fees may need to retake classes.

In addition, they’ll still be responsible for their previous school expenses.

Is it Hard to Become a Phlebotomist?

Being a phlebotomist isn’t hard. However, students must be dedicated and study to perform their duties properly.

A good accredited program will teach you everything you need to know to succeed and pass your exam.

Perhaps the most challenging part of becoming a phlebotomist is managing diverse personalities.

How patients respond to needles and concerns about the process must be addressed professionally and confidently.

Also, phlebotomists must be comfortable handling blood, bodily fluids, and stool.

Being a phlebotomist may be challenging for those uncomfortable working with blood and bodily fluids.

However, phlebotomists comfortable with their work and responsibilities find their jobs satisfying and straightforward.

Finally, where a phlebotomist works impacts their daily experience.

For example, phlebotomists working for a blood donation clinic have different experiences than ER phlebotomists.

As a result, it’s essential to consider the work environment and ensure that it matches your personality.

Being a phlebotomist is reasonably straightforward, but you need the right mindset to enjoy the work.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Phlebotomist?

As previously mentioned, most individuals can become phlebotomists in less than a year.

The time it takes to complete the necessary coursework, training, and certification varies depending on the institute.

Some training institutes and healthcare centers take up to a year to complete the necessary training and become certified.

Other phlebotomy technician programs can be completed with 4 – 8 months of training and passing the certification exam.

With that said, students must apply for the phlebotomy program during the application window.

Those that miss the application window must wait until semester courses reopen to apply.

How Much Does it Cost to Become a Phlebotomist?

Becoming a phlebotomy technician is much less expensive than pursuing other healthcare professions.

Phlebotomy training tuition costs vary from $600 – $2,500 or more, depending on the institute.

In addition to paying tuition, phlebotomy students may also pay application, registration, and exam fees.

Finally, there is numerous school expenses standard in most healthcare-related education programs. 

It includes books, planners, uniforms/scrubs, writing utensils, backpacks, and other school supplies and essentials.

What do Phlebotomists Learn in School?

Phlebotomy technicians learn a wide variety of skills throughout the training program.

For instance, they learn to puncture the skin, draw blood, and do venipuncture and arterial collection.

In addition, students train to administer CPR and First Aid.

These situations are rare, but phlebotomy technicians must understand essential life-saving emergency procedures.

Phlebotomists also perform urinalysis and label and manage blood samples and other collection containers.

As a result, they receive training on these skills to ensure they properly handle blood and specimen collection.

Working in healthcare requires understanding different processes, guidelines, and health data.

Therefore, students learn medical terminology, infection control procedures and policies, and essential healthcare topics.

Some topics include learning to gather and collect patient data and understanding important HIPPA and legal issues.

Finally, phlebotomy technicians learn to operate equipment, utilize protective gear and dispose of medical supplies properly.

What Qualifications do Phlebotomy Students Need?

There are numerous qualifications aspiring phlebotomy students must satisfy to gain entry into the program.

For instance, phlebotomy students must be of age to participate in the training program.

Many states and institutions require students to be at least 18 years old.

In addition, students must have a diploma, GED, or equivalent to demonstrate they’ve achieved foundational schooling.

Before entering the program, applicants must complete a background check and drug test and provide immunization records.

Nevertheless, these requirements may vary depending on the phlebotomy training institute.

Students may obtain CPR certification before or during the program to perform basic life-saving procedures.

Requirements for Program Acceptance:

  • Must be 18 years old
  • Complete a background check
  • Get drug test
  • Show Diploma/GED verification
  • Provide immunization records
  • Obtin CPR certification

Upon completing the program and requirements, students must take an exam to become certified phlebotomy technicians.

Do You Need to be Certified to be a Phlebotomist?

Whether phlebotomy technicians require certification varies depending on their state.

Numerous states do not require professional certification for phlebotomy technicians to obtain work.

Nevertheless, they must complete a phlebotomy training program from an accredited training institute.

Students may also need to pass a state certification if required by their state.

In any case, many healthcare facilities prefer/require certified phlebotomy technicians.

For instance, hospitals may require a phlebotomy technician to be certified due to ethical and legal job obligations.

Some government organizations also require certification to demonstrate the phlebotomist’s technical competencies.

Additional Resources:

Phlebotomy Technician Certification Requirements

To obtain certification from a national organization, phlebotomy technicians must satisfy numerous requirements.

The prerequisites for national certification vary depending on the phlebotomy credential and the association providing the exam.

For example, one association certification may require twenty-five venipuncture procedures and five capillary puncture procedures.

Phlebotomists may also need a minimum of 1 year of full-time work experience to take the national certification.

Those who apply for certification must be existing phlebotomists who have completed a state-approved training program.

The state-approved program has different requirements, such as completing a specific number of basic, advanced, and clinical training hours.

Students must also perform multiple venipunctures and skin punctures under a clinical professional’s supervision.

Completing these requirements enables students to become certified in their state and is separate from national certification.

Phlebotomist Responsibilities and Work Setting

As a phlebotomist, you’ll work with patients collecting blood in various healthcare settings.

It includes clinics, doctors’ offices, hospitals, blood banks, medical labs, and mobile blood collection units.

Not only are you responsible for drawing blood, but you’ll also interact with patients and collect sensitive data.

Because you deal with patients, having excellent hand-eye coordination, basic technical training, and communication skills with team members is essential.

Moreover, you’ll have to be comfortable dealing with blood and bodily fluids that you’ll handle and interact with regularly.

Communication skills are also necessary for managing patients.

Throughout a phlebotomist’s day, they encounter various patient/donor scenarios that they need to comfort and educate.

Educating patients requires answering questions and explaining the process of drawing their blood.

Finally, you’ll be responsible for managing medical equipment, gathering patient data, following strict rules, and safety/sanitary procedures.

These steps are necessary for ensuring patient/donor safety and privacy.

This may be an excellent career if you’re serious about becoming a phlebotomist and have the character needed.

It offers numerous opportunities for advancement and is a great starting point for those entering the healthcare domain.