Education and Training: 4 weeks - 6 months: Combined classwork, labwork, externship and certification test
*The above salary data is for all medical and laboratory technicians. Average phlebotomist salaries may be a bit lower than this.
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What does a phlebotomist do?
Phlebotomists draw blood for tests, transfusions, donations, and research.
Some phlebotomists also do basic technical jobs, like preparing blood samples for lab work.
They must follow hygiene and safety procedures, to prevent the spread of diseases like Hepatitis and HIV.
Phlebotomists work in hospitals, doctor's offices, clinics, laboratories, blood banks and blood donation centers. Most work 40 hours a week.
How do I become a phlebotomist?
Find out if your local adult education center, junior or community college has a phlebotomy program.
There are also several online phlebotomy education programs. These programs should involve real-world instruction as well, such as an externship or an in-person exam.
In these classes, you will practice drawing blood on a fake arm. At some point you may have to draw the blood of your teacher, your classmates, or someone else. You must learn different venipuncture methods and when to use them.
You will also learn proper safety procedures, which you must follow to prevent the spread of blood-borne diseases like HIV and Hepatitis.
Before you sign up for any classes, do your homework. Find out:
A good phlebotomy program will certify you through an association like the following ones:
To stay certified, you'll need continuing education in new technologies, safety procedures, and other clinical issues. These wil be offered through one of the associations above.
What skills and abilities do I need?
Phlebotomists need to know human anatomy, including the circulatory and nervous systems. They must learn and know when to use different venipuncture techniques and proper venipuncture protocol.
A good phlebotomist must have:
Nobody likes getting stuck with needles. As a phlebotomist, you will be dealing with frightened, nervous and angry people. It helps if you can project confidence, soothe fears, and make the patient's experience as painless as possible.
You'll also need to be comfortable with handling needles. It's natural to be nervous at first, but if you faint at the sight of a needle or blood, you'll have to overcome that.
What does the job market look like?
Job growth for phlebotomists is projected to be about as fast as average. Generally, there are more jobs for phlebotomists in cities and metropolitan areas.
In many areas of the country, phlebotomists must have 6 months of paid experience to get a job. Needless to say, this is a big problem for newly-minted phlebotomists.
Also, some hospitals only hire Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) or other healthcare workers with phlebotomy training to draw blood.
You may need to volunteer before you can get a paying job as a phlebotomist. Before you start your course, find a way to work in a doctor's office, volunteer for the Red Cross, or get some experience right after you get certified.
Also consider getting certified as an LPN, EMT, CNA or other healthcare worker. This added training may give you a better shot at finding employment.
What's the pay like?
The average salary, for all medical and laboratory technicians, is $37,150 a year. The top 10% earns $53,520, the bottom 10% earns $23,480.
Phlebotomists are paid less than most medical technicians, on average. The above salary data includes all medical and laboratory technicians; with only phlebotomy training you should expect to make something on the lower end of the scale.
However, phlebotomy is useful wherever you go. Drawing blood cannot be outsourced, and people's aversion to getting their blood drawn will prevent it from being automated. If you are considering a health care career, phlebotomy may help you get your foot in the door, and help pay for your education.
Where can I get more information?
Find a blood bank in your area. Most blood bank websites have an "employment," "jobs" or "careers" section. Do they have a job description of a phlebotomist?
Call them and ask to speak to human resources, saying you're interested in phlebotomy. Here are some questions to ask:
Also do a craigslist search for phlebotomist jobs in your area. These will give you a good idea of what qualifications you'll need to have.
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