A phlebotomy technician, also referred to as a phlebotomist, specializes in drawing blood specimens from patients and preparing the specimens for medical testing or donation. If you’re not squeamish about poking people with needles, this could be a career for you. Yes, this career is for people who don’t mind a little blood, and phlebotomy technicians can help to save lives.
Phlebotomy technicians must have a high school diploma or GED. While you might be trained on-the-job, you can make yourself work-ready with an accredited training program. Training programs usually last between six months to one year. Some states will make you get a license or certification to work as a phlebotomy technician. Even if your state doesn’t require credentials, many employers do. Organizations such as American Medical Technologists offer certification for phlebotomy technicians. Some employers also require cardiopulmonary resuscitation certification -- just in case.
The primary responsibility of phlebotomy technicians is to collect blood samples. You will assemble the tools you need to draw blood, which may be in pre-prepared, single-use kits. Next, you will greet the blood donor, doing your best to help her relak. Then you check the patient’s ID, medical records, vital signs and explain the procedure. You wrap a tourniquet around the patient’s arm, and find a good vein. You will carefully clean the draw site with antiseptic or another product and then -- drum roll --- draw the blood. You will check on the donor and offer a little friendly conversation while the draw continues. After the draw, apply a bandage to the patient’s arm and label the collection container.
Safety and sanitation are critical for phlebotomy technicians. They generally work wearing gloves, sometimes a mask, and wear laboratory coats or scrubs. While some phlebotomy technicians work in blood banks, hospitals, doctor’s offices and laboratories, others travel to community locations to collect blood donations. If you have ever visited a blood drive, a phlebotomy technician collected your donation.
Careers and Salary
The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects 15 percent growth for all medical laboratory technicians between 2010 and 2020, a category that includes phlebotomy technicians. As the baby boomers age during this timeframe, they’ll require more laboratory procedures, opening job opportunities for phlebotomy technicians. A 2010 survey by the American Society for Clinical Pathology showed an average salary of $13.50 per hour or $28,080 per year for phlebotomy technicians.
Elvis Michael has been writing professionally since 2007, contributing technology articles to various online outlets. He is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in information technology at Northeastern University.