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What Phlebotomists Do About this section

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Phlebotomists talk with patients and donors so they are less nervous about having their blood drawn.

Phlebotomists draw blood for purposes such as tests, research, or donations. They help patients or donors who are anxious before or have an adverse reaction after the blood draw.

Duties

Phlebotomists typically do the following:

  • Draw blood from patients or blood donors
  • Explain their work to help relax patients or donors who feel nervous about having blood drawn
  • Verify a patient’s or donor’s identity
  • Label the collected blood for testing or processing
  • Label sterile containers for other samples, such as urine, and instruct patients on proper collection procedures.
  • Enter sample information into a database
  • Assemble, maintain, and dispose of medical instruments such as needles, test tubes, and blood vials
  • Keep work areas and equipment clean and sanitary

Phlebotomists primarily draw blood, which is then used for different kinds of medical laboratory testing or for procedures, such as transfusions. In medical and diagnostic laboratories, patients sometimes interact only with the phlebotomist. In donation centers or locations that have blood drives, phlebotomists draw blood from donors. Because all blood looks the same, phlebotomists must carefully identify and label the blood they have collected and enter the information into a database.

In addition to drawing blood, phlebotomists also may collect urine or other samples. They instruct patients on procedures for proper collection and ensure that the sample is acceptable and clearly labeled in its container.

Phlebotomists must keep their work area and instruments clean and sanitary to avoid causing infections or other complications. Some phlebotomists also ship or transport blood or other samples to different locations.

Work Environment About this section

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Phlebotomists work mainly in hospitals, medical and diagnostic laboratories, and doctor’s offices.

Phlebotomists held about 135,500 jobs in 2021. The largest employers of phlebotomists were as follows:

Hospitals; state, local, and private 36%
Medical and diagnostic laboratories 35
All other ambulatory healthcare services 14
Offices of physicians 8
Outpatient care centers 1

Phlebotomists who collect blood donations sometimes travel to different offices or sites in order to set up mobile donation centers. Some phlebotomists travel to long-term care centers or patients’ homes.

Phlebotomists may be required to stand for long periods of time.

Injuries and Illnesses

Phlebotomists must be careful when handling blood, needles, and other medical supplies. Injuries may occur if they are not careful with medical equipment.

Work Schedules

Most phlebotomists work full time. Phlebotomists who work in hospitals and labs may need to work nights, weekends, and holidays.

How to Become a Phlebotomist About this section

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Many employers look for phlebotomists who have completed some kind of professional certification.

Phlebotomists typically enter the occupation with a certificate from a postsecondary phlebotomy program, but some qualify with a high school diploma and on-the-job training. Employers may prefer to hire candidates who have earned professional certification.

Education and Training

Phlebotomists typically enter the occupation with a postsecondary nondegree award from a phlebotomy program. These programs are available from community colleges, vocational schools, or technical schools and usually take less than 1 year to complete. They involve instruction in anatomy, physiology, and medical terminology and laboratory work and lead to a certificate.

The National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS) and the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) are among the organizations that accredit phlebotomy education programs.

Some employers hire candidates with a high school diploma and train them on the job. Whether through formal education or employer-provided training, the training that all phlebotomists receive includes instruction on how to identify, label, and track blood samples.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

States may require that phlebotomists complete an accredited training program, have a license or certification, or meet other requirements. For specific requirements, contact your state licensing agency.

Some employers prefer to hire phlebotomists who have earned professional certification, such as those offered by professional organizations. Requirements vary by organization but may include education and clinical experience, passing an exam, and practical components, such as drawing blood.

Phlebotomists also may need to have Basic Life Support certification. Those who transport samples may need a driver’s license.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Phlebotomists must be able to clearly explain procedures and provide instruction to patients.

Compassion. Some patients become anxious about having blood drawn, so phlebotomists should be considerate in performing their duties.

Detail oriented. Phlebotomists must draw the correct amount of blood for the tests ordered, carefully label the vials collected, and enter information into a database to avoid misplacing samples or injuring patients.

Dexterity. Phlebotomists must be able to use their equipment efficiently to minimize patients’ discomfort.

Interpersonal skills. Phlebotomists work with other members of the medical staff and must interact with them cooperatively.

Physical stamina. Phlebotomists stand for long periods and are often on the move throughout the workday.

Pay About this section

Phlebotomists

Median annual wages, May 2021

Total, all occupations

$45,760

Phlebotomists

$37,380

Other healthcare support occupations

$37,370

 

The median annual wage for phlebotomists was $37,380 in May 2021. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $28,990, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $48,490.

In May 2021, the median annual wages for phlebotomists in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Outpatient care centers $38,220
Medical and diagnostic laboratories 38,040
Hospitals; state, local, and private 36,980
Offices of physicians 36,410
All other ambulatory healthcare services 35,360

Most phlebotomists work full time. Phlebotomists who work in hospitals and labs may need to work nights, weekends, and holidays.

Job Outlook About this section

Phlebotomists

Percent change in employment, projected 2021-31

Other healthcare support occupations

12%

Phlebotomists

10%

Total, all occupations

5%

 

Employment of phlebotomists is projected to grow 10 percent from 2021 to 2031, faster than the average for all occupations.

About 21,500 openings for phlebotomists are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment

The growing population, with its rising share of older people, will continue to increase demand for medical services, including blood testing.

Blood analysis remains an essential part of medical care, as it is used to check for a wide range of issues. Therefore, demand for phlebotomists will remain high as doctors and other healthcare professionals require bloodwork for analysis and diagnosis.

Employment projections data for phlebotomists, 2021-31
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2021 Projected Employment, 2031 Change, 2021-31 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Phlebotomists

31-9097 135,500 149,400 10 13,900 Get data

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