What Is a Phlebotomist and Does It Require a College Degree?

A phlebotomist draws patient blood. A college degree is not necessary, but a certificate or associate’s degree is required.

Phlebotomist training provides the necessary skills and knowledge to become proficient in blood collection techniques. As a crucial part of the medical field, phlebotomists play a vital role in diagnosing and treating patients by collecting blood samples for laboratory testing.

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Phlebotomist Training and Jobs: Guide for Aspiring Healthcare Professionals

Various opportunities for phlebotomy training can be found across different medical facilities, such as hospitals, clinics, and private laboratories. These positions often involve a combination of classroom instruction and hands-on experience, promoting the development of essential technical and communication skills needed for a successful career in phlebotomy. Trainees typically work under the guidance of experienced phlebotomists and healthcare professionals, learning how to safely and effectively perform venipuncture, label specimens, and adhere to strict infection control protocols.

Aspiring phlebotomists may find numerous job openings available. By completing a recognized training program and obtaining the necessary certifications, individuals can set themselves on a fulfilling career path in the healthcare industry.

Phlebotomist Role and Responsibilities

A phlebotomist, also known as a phlebotomy technician, is an essential member of the healthcare team responsible for the collection and handling of blood samples. These samples are used for lab testing purposes, critical in diagnosing and treating patients.

The primary duty of a phlebotomist is to obtain blood specimens through venipuncture or finger sticks, ensuring samples are collected in a safe and efficient manner. Additional responsibilities often include:

  • Verifying patient identity and maintaining patient confidentiality
  • Preparing blood samples for laboratory analysis, ensuring proper labeling and documentation
  • Ensuring the use of proper techniques and equipment for sample collection
  • Maintaining a clean and safe work environment through sterilization procedures and adherence to infection control standards
  • Administrative tasks, such as maintaining patient records, lab supply inventory, and quality control

Furthermore, phlebotomists play an essential role in patient care and are responsible for providing a positive experience for patients during the blood collection process. This includes calming anxious patients, answering any questions, and providing clear instructions.

Phlebotomists will need to prepare for complications that arise when blood is improperly drawn or when a patient has other medical conditions or allergies. Often the procedure for a blood collection must be altered to accommodate these factors, and unique situations require different equipment.

Dexterity is another crucial trait as veins are small, and blood draws should be as painless as possible. A phlebotomist will need to be very accurate when inserting a needle into a patient to avoid causing undue harm and pain. Often, a phlebotomist will get a single attempt to insert a needle correctly into a vein before a patient becomes uncooperative.

Phlebotomy jobs offer the chance to become very skilled at a particular medical task, without needing expensive schooling and years of training. Phlebotomists draw patient blood in a wide variety of scenarios but they require only certificate level training to be appropriately qualified. Phlebotomists may also be responsible for.

Phlebotomist Training Programs

Phlebotomist training programs are essential for those looking to enter the medical field as skilled phlebotomists. These programs provide in-depth knowledge and practical experience to prepare individuals for success in their future careers.

How long it takes to complete the program will also depend on the institution where you are enrolled, and how fast the program progress is designed to be. For those who are working full time and going to school in the evenings, the total length of the degree may take longer if it is spaced out in smaller sessions over time to accommodate student schedules. If you choose a program which leads to an Associate’s Degree it make take 2 years.

Curriculum and Coursework

Phlebotomy training programs typically consist of both theoretical and practical components to equip students with the necessary knowledge and hands-on experience. If you are interested in becoming a phlebotomist, you’ll need to attend both instructional classes and clinical hours so that you can get hands-on time with patients. The curriculum usually includes:

  • Introduction to phlebotomy and its importance in the medical field
  • Medical terminology related to phlebotomy
  • Anatomy and physiology, focusing on the circulatory system
  • Blood collection techniques and equipment
  • Proper handling and storage of blood samples
  • Safety procedures and prevention of cross-contamination
  • Effective communication with patients and other healthcare professionals

Throughout the course, students will participate in practical exercises to practice blood collection techniques, ensuring they develop the necessary skills for a successful career as a phlebotomist.

Accredited Institutions

Many institutions offer phlebotomy training programs, but it is essential to choose one that is accredited to ensure the quality and validity of the education provided. Accredited programs ensure that the curriculum and training meet industry standards, thus better preparing students for successfully obtaining phlebotomy positions.

Some accredited institutions offering phlebotomy training programs include IndeedMultiCare, and Intermountain Healthcare. These programs vary in length and format, so it is essential to research and compare multiple options to find the best fit for your schedule and learning goals.

Certification and Licensure

Successfully obtaining one’s certification and licensure is an essential step in pursuing a career as a phlebotomist. These qualifications not only demonstrate a strong foundation of knowledge and skills in the field, but also significantly enhance employability.

Certification Exam

Although national certification is not technically required, it is highly beneficial and even essential for securing a job as a phlebotomist. To become a certified professional, one must pass a certification exam from an accredited organization, such as the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP), the National Healthcareer Association (NHA), or the American Medical Technologists (AMT). The exam typically evaluates the candidate’s knowledge of phlebotomy procedures, safety protocols, and patient care.

Preparing for the certification exam involves completing a phlebotomy training program, which often includes coursework, hands-on training, and a clinical practicum. Some programs also assist in finding phlebotomist jobs or further training after completion.

Completing a national certification may take longer than the standard certificate offered at local community colleges, but it can also lead to higher pay and an easier time finding employment.

Scope out potential employers to see what their requirements are before selecting a phlebotomy program.

Maintaining Certification

After successfully passing the certification exam, phlebotomists must maintain their certification by fulfilling ongoing requirements. This usually entails completing a specific number of continuing education (CE) credits and renewing the certification every two to three years, depending on the requirements of the certifying organization.

CE activities may include attending workshops, participating in professional conferences, or completing relevant online courses. This commitment to lifelong learning not only keeps phlebotomists up to date with advancements in the field but also ensures their ongoing competence in providing high-quality patient care.

Job Opportunities

Phlebotomists play a crucial role in the medical field, and there are numerous job opportunities for trained phlebotomy professionals in various settings such as hospitals and clinics, outpatient care centers, and medical laboratories.

Hospitals and Clinics

Many phlebotomist training jobs can be found in hospital and clinic settings. These institutions require individuals skilled in drawing blood samples for diagnostic testing and other medical procedures. Job opportunities in this setting include positions as phlebotomy technicians and medical technicians. Phlebotomy training jobs on Indeed.com allow aspiring professionals to apply for suitable openings.

Outpatient Care Centers

Outpatient care centers also offer a wide array of phlebotomy training job opportunities. These facilities provide medical services to patients who do not require hospitalization, and phlebotomists play an essential role in the diagnostic process. Available phlebotomy training jobs on ZipRecruiter range from $14-$23 per hour.

Medical Laboratories

Medical laboratories are another source of employment for trained phlebotomy professionals. In this setting, phlebotomists collect and process blood samples for further analysis and testing. As the demand for medical laboratory services continues to grow, so does the need for skilled phlebotomists.

Career Advancement

As a phlebotomist, there are various opportunities to grow and develop your career. In this section, we will discuss the importance of continuing education and the specializations you can consider to advance within the industry.

Continuing Education

Continuing education is a key factor in career advancement for phlebotomists. By pursuing additional certifications and attending relevant workshops, you can stay up-to-date with the latest industry standards and techniques. This will not only make you more valuable to your current employer but also increase your marketability when seeking new opportunities.

Many professional organizations and institutions offer advanced training programs in phlebotomy, such as the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science (ASCLS) and the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP). These programs typically focus on topics like quality assurance, safety standards, and complex blood collection techniques. Some employers may even provide support or reimbursement for continuing education opportunities.


Within the field of phlebotomy, there are several specializations that allow phlebotomists to enhance their skills and advance their careers. A few of these career paths include:

  • Phlebotomy Specialist – This role involves performing advanced blood collection techniques, such as arterial blood draws, and handling patients with challenging vein conditions.
  • Medical Lab Technician (MLT) – By broadening your scope to include laboratory testing and analysis, you can become a more versatile healthcare professional.
  • Traveling Phlebotomist – In this role, you will work as a contractor with various healthcare organizations, providing phlebotomy services to patients at different locations.
  • Donor Phlebotomy Technician – As a specialized phlebotomist, you will be responsible for collecting blood from individuals at blood drives, hospitals, and donation centers.

By exploring these specializations and other career advancement opportunities, phlebotomists can enhance their knowledge and expertise while staying competitive in the industry.

Working Conditions and Salary Expectations

Phlebotomists can work in a wide variety of different organizations and are commonly employed by laboratories, health centers, and hospitals. It’s also not uncommon to find a phlebotomist position in any health care facility that conducts blood tests as part of patient care, and these individuals are typically supervised by someone who is a medical professional themselves.

A phlebotomist needs to be very accurate and detail oriented when performing their job, and blood samples must be carefully labeled. In a larger facility or a facility where many patients are seen in a given day, a phlebotomist may need to extract dozens of blood samples from patients.

Phlebotomists will also have to take blood samples from patients who are afraid of needles or don’t like the sight of blood. To be a good phlebotomist, you will need to be skilled at helping the patient to relax so that you can best perform your duties with minimal interruption. 

Some patients will also be emotional and even distraught or angry due to health conditions, personal problems, or other unrelated issues. Fine motor skills are required to perform a blood draw well, and this occupation also demands a high level of organization and the ability to follow instructions carefully.

If you are an experienced phlebotomist, you may also be asked to train other phlebotomists who are new to the organization or who are inexperienced in this line of work. Skilled phlebotomists also help to organize programs for other phlebotomists that allow them to further their education, and help them maintain their certification status.

Phlebotomists can expect varying salaries based on where they work and their level of experience and education. A phlebotomist with an associated degree, for example, may potentially make more money than one with just a certificate. Employment at larger hospitals or facilities also can lead to higher pay but isn’t always the case. 

According to salary.com, the typical salary range for Phlebotomists was between $34,670 and $42,987 as of February 2023.


Phlebotomist training offers a valuable opportunity for individuals to gain hands-on experience and start a rewarding career in healthcare. Landing a trainee phlebotomist position increases the chances of securing full-time or part-time employment later on. These positions provide practical experience, foster confidence, and pave the way for advancement to more senior roles.

Applicants typically enter the profession with a certificate from a postsecondary phlebotomy program, with some learning on the job (Bureau of Labor Statistics). Employers place a high value on well-trained phlebotomists as they play a crucial role in ensuring accurate test results as well as high patient satisfaction.