A phlebotomist is someone who draws blood from patients in hospitals and clinical settings. While this may not sound like an important job classification, it is critical for healthcare settings to have reliable technicians that can safely draw blood and maintain sample integrity for testing.
If you want to become a phlebotomist, you can find information on a variety of alternatives for training and certification from vocational schools and even online training programs; however, you should be sure that the program you choose is one that is accredited by your state’s governing educational body and recognized by your state health agency.
There are two major categories of job openings for qualified phlebotomists. One type of job involves a phlebotomist working through a hospital, doctor’s office, nursing home, or other healthcare facility. These jobs involve a stationary work environment in which patients come to the facility. The other major classification of phlebotomist is a traveling or transient phlebotomist who travels with an organization such as the Red Cross to collect blood through blood drives in local areas.
Either job classification involves training and certification through a state board test. Average wages for phlebotomists are $14.52 per hour, but this number can vary with location, demand, and the level of training the phlebotomist has received.*
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the number of jobs for medical and clinical laboratory technologists (which includes phlebotomists) will grow at a rate of around 13 percent for the next ten years, or about the average for most jobs in the United States.
Not every vocational school, junior college, or other school offers specialized phlebotomy training. Some schools combine phlebotomy training with other healthcare training such as that for emergency medical technicians or licensed practical nurses. However, some schools do offer a specialized phlebotomy program that leads to a certificate that shows employers the healthcare technician is well-trained in phlebotomy practices.
Schools that offer phlebotomy training include vocational schools and online programs. While online programs can offer good coursework, it is very important that an online program partner with an on-site training unit to provide real-time practical experience. Be careful of online programs that promise a phlebotomy certificate with no on-site practice. This is not only impossible but does not lead to becoming a trained, qualified phlebotomist.
The first place to search for good phlebotomy programs should be your local vocational school. You can also talk to your local hospital or laboratory service company about where their phlebotomists were trained. Phlebotomists must often perform a certain number of hours of clinical observation as part of their training, so it is important to find a program that has a good working relationship with a hospital or clinic.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-and-clinical-laboratory-technologists-and-technicians.htm#tab-1)