They may take your blood, but they’re not vampires—they’re phlebotomists. A phlebotomist draws blood from patients and prepares it for tests, transfusions, or donations. If you want to work with a wide variety of people in a hospital or clinical laboratory setting, then learning how to become a phlebotomist may be a wise career step for you.
To become a phlebotomist, you must be comfortable being around blood and working with needles. You’ll also need to have compassion and excellent hand-eye coordination. But what else will it take and how long does it take to become a phlebotomist? Learn how to become a phlebotomist by following the guide and steps below.
What Is a Phlebotomist?
Phlebotomists, or phlebotomy technicians, can help many people at once through their work drawing blood at hospitals and other healthcare sites. In addition to drawing blood, phlebotomists perform blood transfusions, conduct research, and assist with blood donations. They also measure and record blood pressure, temperature, and oxygen.
How Long Does it Take to Become a Phlebotomist?
The journey to becoming a phlebotomist will vary depending on person to person. The whole process can take as little as a year or sometimes even less.
State requirements can play a role in the amount of time it will take to complete schooling and certifications. A vocational school’s curriculum can take less time than a community college.
Additionally, while it is not required to be nationally accredited, many employers will want you to be. There are many different certifications to choose from and certificates can add on more time. However, it is possible to begin working in as little as one year.
Step 1: Complete High School
Receiving a high school diploma is the first step toward a rewarding career as a phlebotomist. Some high schools may offer phlebotomy courses, and in this case, you may forgo a phlebotomy program after high school. However, in most cases, you must enroll in a program.
Step 2: Complete a Phlebotomy Program
After high school, you will need to enroll in a phlebotomy program. You can enroll in these programs at a few different places, including community colleges. The program will usually take a year to complete and you can expect classroom training, featuring courses such as human anatomy, medical terminology, and physiology.
This will also include clinical training that covers blood drawing procedures. To partake in clinical training at a hospital or medical establishment, you will need proof of high school graduation, updated immunization records, and have paid for tuition.
This program will also entail how to handle lab equipment properly, clean up spills to prevent infections, and can even include CPR training. Upon graduation of this program, you will receive a certificate.
Step 3: Get Certified
The next step toward becoming a registered phlebotomist is getting certified. Typically, employers will require that you have a phlebotomy certificate. Successful completion of a certification exam is usually required to get certified, although this can vary depending on the certification. A few credentials include:
- The American Society for Clinical Pathology offers certification. To take this exam, you must have a high school degree, a phlebotomy program certificate, and one year of experience or related certification. Additionally, you must take this certification every three years to maintain your credential.
- The National Health Career Association offers a Certified Phlebotomy Technician certification. You must pass a 100-question exam and renew this certification every two years to maintain good standing.
- The American Medical Technologists offers a Registered Phlebotomy Technician certification. This certification has more prerequisites than the others, including a program with at least 120 hours of course work or 1,040 on-the-job training hours with proof of at least 50 successful vein punctures and 10 capillary punctures. This certification needs to be taken every three years.
Step 4: Get a Job
Hospitals, clinics, laboratories, and blood donation institutions are examples of places where you can seek employment following certification. If you work as a phlebotomist who collects blood donations, then expect to travel to set up mobile donation centers at different sites.
Additionally, if you work in a hospital, you may be required to work odd hours, including nights, weekends, and holidays. Once practicing as a full-time phlebotomist, you will typically work 40 hours a week in a hospital and lab setting.
Step 5: Stay educated
To maintain in good standing as a phlebotomist, you will need to renew your certifications as required. You may also be required to pay an annual fee to stay up to date with your certificates. It’s best to check with your specific organization for yearly requirements.
Should I Become a Phlebotomist in 2020?
If you are passionate about helping people, then you should become a phlebotomist in 2020. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, phlebotomist careers are expected to grow by 17 percent from 2019 to 2029. This is much faster than other occupations. Moreover, the medical field is continuously recruiting exceptional phlebotomists.
The median wage for phlebotomists is around $35,510. However, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the highest percentage of that is $49,750, with the lower 10 percent being $26,000. Of course, a phlebotomist’s salary will depend on education, geographic location, company, and years of service.
Typically, phlebotomists tend to make more than certified nursing assistants. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, CNA’s make on average $30,720.
To become a successful phlebotomist, you will need to be compassionate. Getting your blood drawn is never an enjoyable experience, so you must be understanding. You must also have the dexterity to insert a needle into a vein on the first attempt.
Lastly, you must have exceptional attention to detail. You’re not just drawing the blood, you’re drawing a specific amount of blood that you will need to enter into a database and label it correctly. Mixing up samples or mislabeling can have horrible consequences for the patient.
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