How to become a phlebotomist? Step-by-step guide.
First of all, let’s define who are phlebotomy technicians. Phlebotomists are people who draw blood from patients. They can work either in federal or state hospitals, private practices or laboratories. This is an entry-level medical career that is often considered as a step towards more complex jobs, like nursing assistant, registered nurse or even medical doctor. It allows you to understand whether working with patients is what you want to do further. Still, there are lots of phlebotomists who can’t imagine a better career, so it’s up to you. Now, let’s define clear goals you need to achieve in order to become a phlebotomist.
Step 1: Preparation & Prior Education
Even though schools offering phlebotomy programs don’t require outstanding achievements, we still recommend paying attention to your grades at high school, since a high school diploma, or its equivalent, like GED, for example. Also, in order to apply to an approved phlebotomy training program, you have to be at least 18 years old. As for subjects, they are especially chemistry and biology. Having good grades for these two will give you a competitive advantage over other candidates when applying for a phlebotomy course.
Step 2: Phlebotomy Training
Once you have decided that phlebotomy is a good option for you career (and it certainly is!), it’s time to find a phlebotomy school near you. The form below can help you do this easily:
These programs are short-term, usually less than one year, and will allow you to learn basic skills you need to apply as a phlebotomist, such as drawing blood itself in a number of ways, using different techniques and equipment; basic legal & lab safety questions will be also covered.
Apart of theoretical training, you will undergo hands-on practice in hospitals or laboratories.
Step 3: Certification
Once you have completed a phlebotomy training program, you may want to become certified as well. Even though it’s not theoretically required to start practicing phlebotomy, on practice the vast majority of employers still want you to have it before starting to work. Also, more advanced certifications allow you to broaden the range activities you perform on a daily basis as a phlebotomist, and therefore, increase your salary.
In the United States, a range of organizations offer certifications in phlebotomy.
The main are:
- American Medical Technologists (AMT)
- American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP)
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
We describe all these certifications here.
Some states like California, Nevada and Louisiana require you to be certified in order to work as a phlebotomist. What is even more interesting about California, it’s also required that you are licensed. But, it’s absolutely worth it. According to our survey here, California offers the highest phlebotomy salaries in the US.
Step 4: Employment
Once you have completed all the above steps, here’s the most important one – getting your dream job. Actually, with a rising demand for phlebotomists and other medical professionals, you’re likely to be approached by recruiters during completion the steps above. But don’t forget to be active yourself! Even during your first acquaintance with phlebotomy job when doing practice in hospital, start making friends, talk to staff, go to HR and find out about employment opportunities. Don’t let this most important step be a last-minute affair. We want a range of employers and options to choose from, right? Therefore, being proactive, not reactive will help you a lot.
How long does it take to become a phlebotomist?
As a summary, let’s briefly calculate how long it will take you to start a phlebotomist from scratch:
- Preparation and application to schools: 1 month
- Phlebotomy training itself: 1-2 semesters, or 4 to 8 months, depending on college
After these steps accomplished, you can consider yourself a phlebotomist, but we would recommend obtaining a certification that can take around 12 months to prepare assuming you’re working full time. This is why the entire process shouldn’t take more than 6 to 10 months depending on the program of your choice.