Medical professional taking a blood sample

Medical Assistant vs. Phlebotomy Technician

Discover the Differences in Duties, Responsibilities, Schooling, Requirements, Salary, and Job Outlook

Medical professional taking a blood sample

Once you acquire the education and skills to become a Medical Assistant (MA), you’ll discover many career options and types of facilities where you can work—like hospitals, outpatient centers, and physician’s offices. But you may not realize that becoming an MA can also serve as a springboard into many related careers or help you move on to additional training programs that can build on your healthcare career.

This article is part of a series that compares the differences between a Medical Assistant and other related careers. This one focuses on Medical Assistant vs. Phlebotomy Technician and highlights differences in schooling requirements, job outlook, and average salaries for these jobs.

If you’re interested in preparing for a MA career, you can read more in our related article about how to become a Medical Assistant.

Medical Assistant vs. Phlebotomy Technician: Definition

First, when we compare Medical Assistant vs. Phlebotomy Technician, remember that both are great ways to start a career in the healthcare industry. Your best choice will depend on your personal goals and long-term work preferences. However, we want to point out the essential characteristics of each job, so you can better understand which career path makes the most sense for you. Let’s start by defining each role.

What is a Medical Assistant?

The Medical Assistant definition provided by The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that MAs complete administrative and clinical tasks in hospitals, offices of physicians, and other healthcare facilities. Medical Assistants can choose from several certification programs based on their career goals and the state where they plan to work.

What is a Phlebotomy Technician?

The Phlebotomy Technician definition, also called a Phlebotomist, is more focused. These techs draw blood for tests, transfusions, research, or blood donations.

Medical Assistant vs. Phlebotomy Technician: Job Description

One of the best ways to understand and compare these two careers is to look at the job duties. This will give you a good idea of what the daily work might entail. Let’s start by looking at Medical Assistant duties.

What Does a Medical Assistant do?

Doctors and nurses have come to rely on MAs to handle administrative and increasing clinical tasks as part of their day-to-day responsibilities. In this role, your actual tasks will vary by the type of office or facility you work in, but the following is an excellent general overview of job duties.

Medical Assistant Responsibilities

  • Updates the patient’s medical records
  • Administers medicines under the supervision of a physician
  • Assists during medical examinations
  • Prepares medical samples for laboratory testing
  • Manages the schedule of appointments
  • Assists patients with their bills and in filling out forms

What Does a Phlebotomy Technician do?

Phlebotomy Technician duties involve drawing blood from patients and blood donors. Phlebotomists may also provide help if patients have adverse reactions.

Phlebotomy Technician Responsibilities

  • Draw blood from patients and blood donors
  • Help patients and donors feel less nervous
  • Verify identity to ensure proper labeling of blood
  • Label blood for testing or processing
  • Enter patient information into a database
  • Assemble medical instruments and keep areas sanitary

Phlebotomy Technician drawing blood

Where Do Medical Assistants Work?

Next, let’s review where MAs typically work. The majority, 57%, work in physicians’ offices. Another 15% work in state, local, and private hospitals. Others work in outpatient care centers (8%) and offices of chiropractors (4%). Work schedules at these offices and facilities are usually full-time, and some require evenings, weekends, and holidays—especially medical facilities that are always open.

Where Do Phlebotomy Technicians Work?

The majority of Phlebotomists, about 39%, tend to work in hospitals, but a good amount, 31%, also work in medical and diagnostic laboratories. About 15% work in other ambulatory healthcare services. Some work in other environments like doctor’s offices (7%) and outpatient care centers (2%). Most work full-time schedules, but Phlebotomists sometimes work in multiple offices or sites. Some also travel to patients’ homes.

Medical Assistant vs. Phlebotomy Technician: Schooling

Our next comparison is the amount of education you need for each of these careers and how long it will take to finish the required training or degree. Here’s what you need to know:

Educational Requirements for Medical Assistants

Most Medical Assistants must not only complete an educational program accredited by an approved regional or national accreditation agency but also become certified. You’ll study multiple areas in your program, such as patient interaction, basic coding and billing, medical office procedures, and electronic medical records. You’ll also learn how to assess and intervene in specific patient situations. You can choose to complete a diploma program or an associate degree program.

For example, Brookline College offers an accelerated Medical Assisting program that provides the necessary training for entry-level positions in a healthcare facility such as a clinic, physician’s office, or urgent care facility. This program offers a healthcare diploma.

Once you graduate, you can study for and pass a certification exam. You can choose from five different Medical Assistant certifications once you finish your program. In addition, some employers, or states, require a specific certification to start working in that state. For more information, read our article, The Best Medical Assistant Certification for Your Career.

What Degree Do You Need to Be a Medical Assistant?

You can earn a healthcare diploma or complete an associate degree program.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Medical Assistant?

Your program can take anywhere from nine months (for a healthcare diploma) to two years (if you choose the option to obtain an associate degree). The diploma program at Brookline College can be completed in about nine months.

Educational Requirements for Phlebotomy Technicians

To become a Phlebotomist, you must complete a certificate or diploma program. But almost all employers also require new hires to have passed professional certification. Several organizations offer phlebotomy certifications, including The National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT), National Healthcareer Association (NHA), American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP), National Phlebotomy Association, and American Medical Technologists (AMT) offer Phlebotomy Technician certifications.

Brookline College offers a Phlebotomy Technician program that provides the training you need to start working as a Phlebotomy Tech.

What Degree Do You Need to Be a Phlebotomy Technician?

You do not need to earn a degree to work as a Phlebotomy Technician. You must complete a certificate or diploma program and complete any certifications your employer requires.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Phlebotomy Technician?

Most Phlebotomy Technician programs take less than a year to complete. The diploma program at Brookline College can be completed in as little as 34 weeks.

Stethoscope next to money

Medical Assistant vs. Phlebotomy Technician: Salary

Another important comparison is how much you can make performing these two medical jobs. See below for the average salaries for MAs and Phlebotomy Technicians.

How Much Do Medical Assistants Make?

The BLS reports that the median annual wage for Medical Assistants was $38,000 in May 2021. The lowest-paid 10 percent earned around $29,000, while the highest 10 percent earned more than $48,000.

This chart shows the top paying industries for Medical Assistants:

Industry  Hourly average wage  Annual average wage
Agencies, brokerages, and other insurance-related activities $ 25.46 $ 52,970
Professional and commercial equipment and supplies merchant wholesalers $ 23.53 $ 48,940
Outpatient care centers $ 21.48 $ 44,680
Electronic Shopping and mail-order houses $ 21.36 $ 44,420
Insurance carriers $ 21.34 $ 44,390

Below are the highest-paying states for Medical Assistants:

State  Hourly average wage  Annual average wage
Washington $ 22.75 $ 47,320
District of Columbia $ 22.45 $ 46,690
Alaska $ 22.30 $ 46,390
California $ 21.53 $ 44,780
Massachusetts $ 21.25 $ 44,200

Here are the cities with the highest pay for Medical Assistants.

City Hourly average wage  Annual average wage
Vallejo, CA $ 28.21 $ 58,670
San Francisco, CA $ 26.41 $ 54,930
San Jose, CA $ 25.90 $ 53,870
Santa Rosa, CA $ 25.74 $ 53,530
Sacramento, CA $ 24.78 $ 51,530
Seattle, WA $ 24.43 $ 50,820
Napa, CA $ 24.27 $ 50,480
Fairbanks, AK $ 22.62 $ 47,060
Portland, OR $ 22.41 $ 46,620
Olympia, WA $ 21.95 $ 45,650

How Much Do Phlebotomy Technicians Make?

The BLS reports that the median annual wage for Phlebotomists was $38,000 in May 2021. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $28,000, while the highest 10 percent earned more than $48,000.

This chart shows the highest paying industries for Phlebotomists:

Industry  Hourly average wage  Annual average wage
Grantmaking and giving services $ 27.51 $ 57,210
Scientific research and development $ 21.29 $ 44,290
Individual and family services $ 21.16 $ 44,000
Management of companies $ 20.71 $ 43,080
Outpatient care centers $ 20.48 $ 42,600

Below are the highest-paying states for Phlebotomists:

State  Hourly average wage  Annual average wage
California $ 23.11 $ 48,070
District of Columbia $ 21.82 $ 45,390
New York $ 21.82 $ 45,390
Massachusetts $ 21.16 $ 44,020
Washington $ 21.05 $ 43,770

Here are the cities with the highest pay for Phlebotomists.

City Hourly average wage Annual average wage 
San Jose, CA $ 27.37 $ 56,940
San Francisco, CA $ 26.47 $ 55,050
Santa Cruz, CA $ 25.91 $ 53,880
Santa Barbara, CA $ 25.31 $ 52,640
Redding, CA $ 24.44 $ 50,830
Stockton, CA $ 23.94 $ 49,800
San Diego, CA $ 23.53 $ 48,940
Santa Rosa, CA $ 23.51 $ 48,900
Sacramento, CA $ 23.37 $ 48,600
Vallejo, CA $ 23.34 $ 48,550

Medical Assistant vs. Phlebotomy Technician: Job Outlook

Now that you have a good idea of the job duties for these two healthcare jobs and the educational requirements and average salaries, let’s look at the projected job outlooks.

Medical Assistant Job Outlook

How are MA careers expected to grow over the next decade? The BLS reports that the employment of Medical Assistants is projected to grow 18% from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average of all other occupations.

More than 104,000 openings for Medical Assistants are projected each year, on average, over the next decade. These rapidly expanding jobs may be in hospitals, physician offices, and other healthcare facilities. Many of these jobs may require Medical Assistant certifications.

Click here to learn more on how to become a Medical Assistant.

Smiling nurse wearing a hijab

Phlebotomy Technician Job Outlook

Employment for Phlebotomists, even more robust than Medical Assistants, is projected to grow by 22% from 2020 to 2030.

About 19,500 openings for phlebotomists will become available yearly. Some of those jobs may result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or retire from the workforce.

Click here to learn more on how to become a Phlebotomist.

Which Job Is Right for You?

If you’re just starting your healthcare career, you may be deciding which of these two careers is the best first step. As you can see, the amount of schooling needed and the average salary* for both jobs are comparable. So it may come down to the job duties and work environment. If you’re interested in the administrative side of healthcare and not just the clinical duties, you may want to opt for the Medical Assisting route. On the other hand, if you’d prefer to work in a more clinically focused role drawing blood, then Phlebotomist may be for you.

Reach Your Healthcare Career at Brookline College

Good luck as you choose the right healthcare career and the educational partner to help you prepare to work in your field of choice. Brookline College offers a Medical Assisting program that provides the necessary training for entry-level positions as a Medical Assistant. It also offers a Phlebotomy Technician program that provides the training you need to start working as a Phlebotomy Technician.