Phlebotomy Vs. CNA

Phlebotomists specialize in drawing blood.
i Keith Brofsky/Photodisc/Getty Images
Phlebotomists specialize in drawing blood.

Head to almost any career board, and you can’t help but notice that the health care industry always seems to be hiring. Many of these positions are entry level, but if you’re in need of a job, it’s a good way to get your foot in the door. Most vacancies, however, require some level of education or experience. Phlebotomy, for example, requires some postsecondary schooling. The same can be said for a CNA, or a certified nursing assistant. But either path may not be as time-intensive as you think.


The duties of phlebotomists and certified nursing assistants really differentiate the two roles. Phlebotomy technicians are almost exclusively responsible for drawing, labeling, storing and transporting blood. Certified nursing assistants, on the other hand, focus on patient care. They may bathe patients, help them use the toilet or serve them meals. They may also measure vital signs, transfer a patient between a bed and a wheelchair or record any health concerns.


As with most medical careers, CNA and phlebotomist education and certification requirements vary by state. But phlebotomy technicians typically need to complete a phlebotomy training program from an accredited technical school. Upon completion, you can sit for the exam to become a certified phlebotomist, and some states require this designation to even practice. Certified nursing assistants follow a similar path, first completing an approved nursing assistant program and then sitting for a state-specific exam.


Phlebotomy technicians tend to make more than certified nursing assistants. In 2010, half of all phlebotomists earned at least $13.50 an hour, or $28,080 a year, according to a survey by the American Society for Clinical Pathology. The median wage for certified nursing assistants was closer to $11.63 an hour, or $24,190 a year, reports the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Job Outlook

Through 2020, the number of jobs for all laboratory technicians, like phlebotomists, should grow by only 11 percent — which compares with the national average for all U.S. occupations, an estimated 14 percent. The same can’t be said for nursing assistants, who should see an employment growth of 20 percent from 2010 to 2020.

2016 Salary Information for Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians

Medical and clinical laboratory technologists and technicians earned a median annual salary of $50,240 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, medical and clinical laboratory technologists and technicians earned a 25th percentile salary of $41,520, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $62,090, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 335,600 people were employed in the U.S. as medical and clinical laboratory technologists and technicians.

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