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Are you interested in becoming a phlebotomist or just want to learn more about what they do? Well, it’s a good thing you stopped by Phlebotomy Guide, where we will walk you through everything you need to know about phlebotomy. Here, we’ll be answering some important questions you might be having, such as what is phlebotomy, what is a phlebotomist, what is a phlebotomist’s salary, career outlook, requirements to become one, and of course, where you can go from here to learn more about phlebotomist training. So, without further ado, let’s get started!

First Off All: What is Phlebotomy?

So, before we delve into what is a phlebotomist, what is phlebotomy? This weird word that is hard to pronounce and spell at first basically translates to the process of making an incision in a vein with a needle. The word phlebotomy comes from the Greek word phleb-, which means “concerning a blood vessel”, and -otomy, which means “to make an incision”. Also known as a venipuncture, the point of the incision is to be able to draw blood from the patient. (*So, if you’re a bit squeamish with either blood or needles, phlebotomy might not be the right job for you.) The blood is then used for clinical or medical testing, donations, transfusions, or research. In some cases, blood needs to be removed from patients who have too much iron in their blood, which is known as hemochromatosis, or patients who are producing too many red blood cells, which is called polycythemia.

what is a phlebotomist
The process is fairly simple, however. A phlebotomist or qualified health professional who is able to perform phlebotomy inserts a needle into a visible vein, where they then remove the appropriate amount of blood. So basically, they are like vampires who don’t actually drink the blood.

Sounds kind of easy, right? On the surface, it might, but it can actually be difficult to do in real life, especially on a consistent basis. That’s exactly why phlebotomists need to go through proper training first in order to perform incisions, and some states also require special certification before you can become one. Let’s move on to what is a phlebotomist!

What is a Phlebotomist?

So, now you know what is phlebotomy, but what is a phlebotomist and what is their job description? Surely their only task isn’t just to draw blood, is it? In short, no. There are many other tasks a phlebotomist is in charge of, which they’ll have to perform on a daily basis. Besides the main duty of drawing blood, a phlebotomist is also responsible for:

  • Identifying correct patients
  • Verifying test requisitions
  • Explaining the procedure to patients
  • Comforting patients who are nervous are scared
  • Preparing patients with the procedure
  • Practicing the mandatory process of asepsis
  • Practicing standard procedures and universal precautions throughout
  • Performing the incision in the skin/vein
  • Drawing blood into the correct tubes
  • Restoring hemostasis, or the process of making a wound stop bleeding
  • Instructing patients about post-puncture care
  • Ordering tests per the doctor’s request
  • Labeling tubes with the date and patient’s name
  • Delivering blood to a laboratory
  • Completing records and entering any data onto a computer
  • Becoming proficient at drawing blood without causing pain or discomfort

Phlebotomist Salary

Now that we’ve gone over what is a phlebotomist, let’s move on to the phlebotomist salary. The annual median salary of a phlebotomist is roughly $30,150 a year. That is about an average wage of $14.50 an hour. Of course, this figure can change depending on location, training, years of experience, and performance. On the low end of the bell curve (the low 10%), a phlebotomist can expect to make $21,760 a year. The lower 25% makes roughly $25,510 a year while the upper 75% makes roughly $36,270 per annum. Meanwhile, the top 10% makes more than $43,190 annually. This is not including bonuses and benefits, such as a healthcare plan, social security, 401K/403B, and paid holiday and vacation. But for now, let’s break down the different factors that can affect a phlebotomist salary.

what is a phlebotomist salary

*All statistics provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics

 

Location

Obviously one of the most important factors is location. As they say, location, location, location! The pay rate won’t differ so much within a state, but it’s comparing the different salaries of different states where you really begin to notice a stark difference! The highest paying states are often the ones that have big urban cities and dense metropolitan areas, while those working in rural areas often get paid less. For example, if you were to move from Mississippi to California, you’d be potentially looking at a salary increase of more than $20,000!

Here’s a breakdown of the phlebotomist salary by state, with the 5 highest and lowest paying states (median salary) and an interactive map:

Top 5 Highest Paying States Top 5 Lowest Paying States
1. Alaska – $38,000 1. Mississippi – $23,400
2. California – $37,600 2. Arkansas – $23,800
3. Delaware – $36,200 3. West Virginia – $23,900
4. Rhode Island – $36,000 4. North Dakota – $24,000
5. Massachusetts – $35,100 5. Alabama – $24,100

Phlebotomist Salary by State

Employer

Different employers can offer different salary rates. For instance, federal government facilities and private practices and laboratories often have a much higher starting salary, although spots are typically limited. If you can find a phlebotomist job in these locations, we say take it! But on the other hand, places like local state hospitals offer lower salary rates, although there are many more spots available. This could be a good starting point for phlebotomists just beginning. Also, there is the option to become a traveling phlebotomist, and these unique phlebotomists work for private laboratories. The average salary of a traveling phlebotomist is $33,000 a year, although it does require more driving on your end.

Certification

For most states, certification is not required in order to become a phlebotomist. Most phlebotomists receive the necessary skills through on-the-job training and free programs, but those that do receive certification often receive a higher starting salary and also a better chance of getting hired.

Experience

Although it typically doesn’t make a huge difference, experience can definitely help to increase a phlebotomist’s salary. The basic assumption is this, more years of experience equals more efficient performance. But the figures don’t really change all that much until you’ve had 4-10+ years of experience.

Phlebotomist Career Outlook

So now, we’ve covered what is a phlebotomist, the actual practice, and salary figures, let’s talk more about the career outlook for the occupation. As you probably already know, the healthcare field is doing very well right now, with an explosion of new jobs in almost every field that has to do with healthcare. Phlebotomy is no exception.

As of 2012, there were more than 101,300 phlebotomist jobs in the United States, and this is expected to change by an increase of 27% by 2022 (that’s another 27,100 expected phlebotomists!). So if you’re looking for a stable occupation right now, phlebotomy could be your answer. The majority of phlebotomists work in hospitals, whether it’s general, medical, or surgical hospitals. The other settings that employ a lot of phlebotomists are laboratories and ambulatory health care services. However, phlebotomists can also be found working in offices of physicians and employment services, although in fewer number.

*All statistics provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics
Phlebotomist Requirements

On to the phlebotomist requirements. As we’ve mentioned earlier, most states do not require any sort of formal training or certification in order to become a phlebotomist. There are only four states in the United States that do require certification, however. These include: California, Washington, Nevada, and Louisiana. Although most states do not require certification, we highly recommend that you give it some thought as there are many potential benefits that you can gain from obtaining certification. A head start on the job, a better chance of being hired, and possibly a higher starting salary are just a few. There are a number of agencies that offer phlebotomist certification, and six well-know agencies include the the ACA, AMT, ASCP, NCCT/MMCI, NAACLS, NHA, and the NPCE. Although there are more agencies out there, these six agencies are accepted as approved phlebotomist certification for the state of California (as well as the majority of other states).

In order to be able to take the phlebotomist certification exam (often consisting of a 2 part exam, a written portion and a skills portion), you must first complete a series of requirements. Those include:

  • Complete a state approved phlebotomy course
  • Provide documentation of clinical or laboratory experience
Where Can I Learn More About Phlebotomist Training?
Phlebotomist Job Description Phlebotomist Requirements
Phlebotomist Salary Phlebotomist Training