Think back to the last time you had blood drawn at the hospital or laboratory for testing. The person who came in and efficiently tied an elastic band around your arm, found a good vein, slipped a needle in that you barely noticed, took samples and disappeared again was very likely a phlebotomist. Not only does she hold a certificate in phlebotomy, she's also required to hold a certificate in basic life support (BLS).
Before a candidate can enter a phlebotomy course, she needs to have a high school diploma, or its equivalent, pass a background check and a drug test, and pass a medical examination, according to the Florence-Darlington Technical College. Having a BLS certification is another prerequisite. In fact, you must maintain your BLS certificate throughout your career as a phlebotomist.
Basic Life Support
Earning a BLS certification shows you know how to recognize and react to basic emergency situations, says the American Heart Association. You will have learned how to give cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), use an automated external defibrillator (AED), and save a victim from choking in an efficient and safe manner. Once you've earned your BLS certification, it remains active for two years, after which time you'll have to renew it. BLS courses are available at hospitals, technical colleges, fire stations and even online. The fees vary depending on the facility you attend.
Collecting blood samples through venipuncture is the heart of a phlebotomist's job, says the University of Virginia Health System. She has to observe strict rules of sanitation to avoid contaminating the samples she draws and to prevent spreading any contagion. Once she has the samples, she must properly label them and deliver them to the appropriate lab for screening. Patient care and comfort are priorities to her, and she takes the time to answer questions and concerns. Phlebotomists may have light clerical duties to perform as well, depending on where they work.
Income and Statistics
In 2012, phlebotomists earned $14.86 an hour on average, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, or $30,910 a year. These numbers saw fluctuations across the country, of course, going as low as $10.26 an hour in some areas and as high as $20.48 in others. California was the state that employed the highest number of phlebotomists that year and was the second-highest paying state. Alaska was the top-paying state. Most phlebotomists worked in general and surgical hospitals, while insurance carriers tended to be the highest-paying employer.
2016 Salary Information for Phlebotomists
Phlebotomists earned a median annual salary of $32,710 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, phlebotomists earned a 25th percentile salary of $27,350, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $38,800, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 122,700 people were employed in the U.S. as phlebotomists.
- Florence-Darlington Technical College: Phlebotomy Technician Certificate
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Phlebotomists
- American Heart Association: BLS for Healthcare Providers -- Classroom
- Emergency Management Training and Services: American Heart Association CPR, First Aid and AED Training
- University of Virginia Health System: UVA Medical Center Job Description: Phlebotomist
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Phlebotomists
- Career Trend: Phlebotomists
- Keith Brofsky/Photodisc/Getty Images