Medical professional in a lab coat

How to Become a Phlebotomist

Duties, Responsibilities, Schooling, Requirements, Certifications, Job Outlook, and Salary


Medical professional in a lab coat

Have you ever participated in a blood drive or had your blood drawn as part of a routine medical screening? If so, you’ve most likely interacted with a phlebotomy technician. In addition to drawing blood, phlebotomists are the friendly faces who calm the nerves of the many people who get a little squeamish around needles. So if you’re hungry to get your foot in the door of the healthcare industry within just a few months, and set yourself up for plenty of opportunities to advance your career down the road, a career as a phlebotomy technician could be a great fit!

This career guide will teach you everything you need to know about becoming a phlebotomy technician, including the educational requirements, certifications, day-to-day duties, and how long it generally takes to launch your new career.

Not sure if becoming a phlebotomy technician is right for you? Click here to see our full list of the best entry-level medical jobs.

Phlebotomist Definition

What is a Phlebotomy Technician?

When a patient or blood donor has blood drawn at a hospital, clinic, or mobile donation site, they’re most often working with a phlebotomy technician. Also known as phlebotomists, these entry-level healthcare workers are primarily responsible for drawing blood and ensuring it’s properly labeled and stored. They’ll also track important patient information and help people nervous about having their blood drawn relax and feel comfortable.

Phlebotomist: Job Description

What Does a Phlebotomy Technician Do?

On a day-to-day basis, phlebotomy technicians work with patients to safely draw blood, either as a life-saving donation or for analysis in a diagnostic laboratory. Phlebotomists are also responsible for labeling and tracking blood samples and ensuring they’re properly matched with a patient’s medical records. They’ll also spend time assembling, maintaining, and sterilizing their medical instruments and work area.

Phlebotomist Duties

Some of the day-to-day responsibilities of phlebotomy technicians include:

  • Drawing blood from patients or blood donors
  • Helping people feel less nervous about getting their blood drawn
  • Properly labeling and tracking blood samples or donations
  • Accurately entering patient information into databases
  • Cleaning and sanitizing their work area and any medical instruments

Phlebotomy Technician Skills

The best phlebotomy technicians are compassionate people with good interpersonal skills. Many patients get nervous about having their blood drawn, so the ability to put people at ease and help them relax will make your job much easier. You’ll also need solid manual dexterity, as it takes a steady hand to successfully draw blood on the first try. Being detail-oriented is equally important, as it’s critical to ensure many similar-looking samples are properly labeled and associated with the correct patient.

Where Do Phlebotomists Work?

Phlebotomy technicians work in a wide variety of healthcare settings—basically, anywhere you’ll find blood being stored or analyzed! The most common workplaces are hospitals, diagnostic labs, outpatient clinics, and private physician’s offices. Most phlebotomists work full-time, 40-hour workweeks. However, typical work hours can vary by facility. For example, places like hospitals or diagnostic labs that must be able to analyze blood on short notice may schedule shifts during nights, weekends, or holidays.

Phlebotomist Schooling & Certification

How Long Does it Take to Become a Phlebotomist?

What Degree Do You Need to Be a Phlebotomist?

To get started as a phlebotomy technician, you’ll need to earn your Phlebotomy Technician diploma from an accredited college or university. It’s the best way to prepare for your certification exam, which will be required in many states. While plenty of healthcare diploma programs can take up to two years to complete, you could earn your Phlebotomy Technician diploma in as little as 34 weeks! It’s one of the fastest ways to start a career in the healthcare industry, and you’ll gain a skill set that will make you employable just about anywhere.

Like any long-term goal, working toward a new career as a phlebotomy technician seems much more attainable when you break it down into individual steps.

Team of medical professionals

Here’s a step-by-step guide to the education, experience, and certifications you’ll need to become a phlebotomy technician:

1. Enroll in a Phlebotomy Technician Program

The first step in starting your new career as a phlebotomist is enrolling in an accredited Phlebotomy Technician program. Buckling down in school for a few months will set you up for great long-term job prospects, and a phlebotomy technician diploma is achievable for just about anyone. For example, to enroll in the Phlebotomy Technician program at Brookline University, all you’ll need is a high school diploma or GED, plus a passing score on a Scholastic Level Exam.

2. Earn Your Phlebotomy Technician Diploma

At the beginning of your phlebotomy technician studies, you’ll learn about the big-picture basics of the healthcare industry, as well as receive an introduction to medical office administration and the fundamentals of phlebotomy. From there, you’ll study more specific topics like infection control and more advanced phlebotomy techniques. By the time you’re done with your coursework, you’ll be well-versed in the skills and procedures you’ll need to work in just about any facility that employs phlebotomy technicians.

The final portion of your phlebotomy technician program will consist of what’s known as a practicum, where you’ll gain experience in an actual clinic performing the same tasks you’ll be expected to handle on the job. Then, with a mix of classroom instruction and real-world experience under your belt, you’ll be ready to ace your certification exam and become a certified phlebotomy technician.

Wherever you choose to pursue your phlebotomy technician diploma, you may want to consider colleges or universities that offer job-placement assistance to students after completing their diploma program. The job search can be stressful when you’re trying to break into a new industry, and having a little help when it comes to making connections and preparing for interviews can give you a leg up on the competition.

3. Get Certified By One of the Major Professional Organizations

Nearly all employers will strongly prefer to hire phlebotomy technicians who have earned professional certification. A variety of credentialing organizations are available, though the most commonly recognized are the National Center for Competency Testing,  the National Healthcareer Association, the American Society for Clinical Pathology, the National Phlebotomy Association, and American Medical Technologists. All of these organizations offer certifications for phlebotomy technicians. While each organization’s exam will differ slightly, you can generally expect them to consist of a mix of multiple-choice questions and a hands-on practical component.

How Much Does it Cost to Earn a Phlebotomy Technician Diploma?

The cost of attending college has risen steadily over the years—many colleges and universities bill students $20,000 and up per semester in tuition alone. That usually doesn’t even include the cost of books, lab fees, or the other hidden charges that often seem to pop up. The good news is, the rise of online education has made earning a diploma much more accessible for millions of people across the country. And most of the time, you’ll end up spending less on tuition since online colleges don’t have the same overhead costs as traditional institutions. The Phlebotomy Technician Program at Brookline College not only costs less per credit hour than many other colleges, but the price you pay also includes all lab fees, books, and other required course materials. Not only will you likely pay less in tuition, but over 80% of Brookline students qualify for some form of financial aid, which makes attending college even more accessible. Wherever you choose to earn your phlebotomy technician diploma, make sure it’s with a school that can give you a straight answer about what you’ll be spending on your education.

Phlebotomist Salary

How Much Do Phlebotomists Make?

According to the most recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average salary* among all phlebotomy technicians (also known as phlebotomists) is over $37,000 per year, which is just shy of $18 per hour. Phlebotomists in the top 25% of earners average over $42,000 per year, while the top 10% of salaries in the field start at over $50,000 annually.

Highest Paying Industries for Phlebotomists

According to the BLS, you’ll find the top-paying jobs for phlebotomy technicians in these industries:

Industry Average Hourly Pay Average Salary
Outpatient Care Facilities $21.11 $43,920
Scientific Consulting Services $20.38 $42,390
Insurance Companies $20.36 $42,360
Colleges & Universities $19.88 $41,340
Medical & Diagnostic Laboratories $18.74 $38,970

Highest Paying States for Phlebotomists

According to the BLS, phlebotomy technicians in these states earn the highest average wages:

Location Average Hourly Pay Average Salary
California $22.71 $47,230
New York $21.46 $44,630
Washington, D.C. $21.13 $43,960
Alaska $20.80 $43,270
Washington $20.45 $42,530

Highest Paying Cities for Phlebotomists

According to the BLS, phlebotomy technicians earn the highest average annual pay in these cities:

Location Average Hourly Pay Average Salary
Redding, CA $25.37 $52,770
San Diego, CA $24.96 $51,920
Santa Rosa, CA $24.82 $51,620
Santa Cruz, CA $24.56 $51,070
San Jose, CA $24.38 $50,710
Vallejo, CA $24.35 $50,650
Santa Barbara, CA $24.32 $50,580
San Francisco, CA $24.16 $50,250
Hanford, CA $23.27 $48,400
Stockton, CA $23.21 $48,270

Phlebotomist Job Outlook

What is the Job Outlook for Phlebotomy Technicians?

The rising demand for healthcare services comes with an excellent long-term outlook for most healthcare careers, especially for phlebotomy technicians. The BLS estimates the overall number of phlebotomists in the workforce will increase by a massive 17% by 2029. That’s over four times higher than the average job-growth rate (4%) among all careers across the same time period! If you’re looking for a new career in the healthcare industry with one of the best long-term employment outlooks for job-seekers, you’d be hard-pressed to do better than becoming a certified phlebotomy technician.

Smiling healthcare professionals

Ready to Start Your Career as a Phlebotomy Technician?

One of the fastest ways to get your foot in the door of the booming healthcare industry, a career as a phlebotomy technician is an excellent match for caring. These compassionate people who like the idea of working directly with patients. You’ll have fantastic long-term prospects for finding work all over the country, and many people take the skills they learn as a phlebotomist to later make their way into other, even more lucrative healthcare careers like nursing.

Click here to learn more about the Phlebotomy Technician program at Brookline College, and start taking steps toward your new career as a phlebotomy technician today!