CareerExplorer’s step-by-step guide on how to become a phlebotomist.
Is becoming a phlebotomist right for me?
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High School Diploma
To enter an approved phlebotomy training program, aspiring phlebotomists must be at least 18 years of age and must have a high school diploma or GED.
High school courses in chemistry, biology, math, and computer science lay a foundation for formal training in the field.
Accredited phlebotomy programs typically include coursework in the following subject areas:
• Medical terminology
• Human anatomy and physiology
• Blood and cell composition
• Blood sampling procedures
• Laboratory safety
Clinical/hands-on training includes these blood-drawing procedures:
• Basic venipuncture techniques
• Butterfly techniques commonly used for the elderly and children with small veins
• Fingerstick methods for people with damaged or hard-to-find veins
• Healstick or capillary puncture for newborns
Students also learn how to properly handle lab equipment and clean up spills to prevent infection and physical harm. Most curricula also address basic legal implications of the work, as well as how to effectively interact with patients. Some programs incorporate CPR certification in their curricula.
It is recommended that students choose a training program that is approved/accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS). Although this is not a strict requirement among all employers, the standards set by the NAACLS ensure that curricula provide the comprehensive training required in the workplace. In addition to a high-school diploma, accredited programs may require a minimum GPA and a copy of the applicant’s immunization records.
Licensure / Certification / Employment
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, three states require phlebotomists to be licensed: California, Louisiana, and Nevada.
While certification is optional, it is highly recommended, because most employers require it. Furthermore, the U.S. Bureau of labor Statistics reports that ‘job prospects are the best for those who receive certification from any of the available reputable certifying organizations.’ The agencies listed below administer exams and award credentials recognized in the field. This phlebotomy certification guide provides detailed information on certification.
American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP)
American Medical Technologists (AMT)
National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT)
American Certification Agency (ACA)
Requirements for maintaining certifications vary depending on the organization that awards the credential. Typically, however, to maintain their status certified phlebotomists must complete a specified number of continuing education credits every two years.
To further enhance their employability, phlebotomy technicians can pursue specialty certifications, such as the Donor Phlebotomy Technician (DPT) credential which qualifies them to work in blood collection centers. For a list of advanced certifications, click here.
How to become a Phlebotomist
Aspiring phlebotomists need to earn a high school diploma and complete a phlebotomy training program. While these are the two standard requirements to enter the profession, some states also stipulate that phlebotomists must be licensed to practise legally.
Training programs in the field, generally offered at vocational schools and community colleges, typically last less than a year and teach students how to draw blood and how to effectively interact with patients. Courses include lab safety, equipment disposal, and potential legal issues. Curricula are generally a combination of classroom instruction and hands-on training in a hospital or another clinical setting.
Following completion of their education, students can choose to pursue professional certifications. While these credentials are not mandatory, many employers prefer to hire applicants who hold a national certification, such as the Registered Phlebotomy Technician designation awarded by the American Medical Technologists. In most cases, maintenance of certification via continuing education credits is required.