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The job of a phlebotomist starts when a blood test is ordered. The blood is drawn, labeled and sent for testing. Though it is a fairly routine procedure, the phlebotomist should also be ready to deal with any unexpected occurrences, and be able to keep the patient calm. Phlebotomists work in labs, buses at blood drives or in testing sites. Sometimes they travel to collect blood samples or transport them back to the lab. These lab technicians must also be familiar and adept at working with infectious samples, and know how to protect themselves and others accordingly. They must be familiar with all the equipment at each site. Most start working part time and build up their hours.
The practice of phlebotomy is also known as venipuncture. This career is new, compared to many other clinical jobs, as drawing blood was often performed by nurses or doctors in the past. Nowadays, phlebotomists are related to the select group of medical professionals known as clinical laboratory technologists/ technicians or clinical laboratory scientists.
Certification as a phlebotomist is fairly straightforward and doesn’t take very long. You must have your high school diploma (or GED) in order to enroll in a phlebotomy course at a technical school. You will need a certificate or an associate’s degree to obtain work in a clinic or lab.
Some organizations that approve phlebotomy certification programs in the states include The National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS), the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools. Certification is also offered by the following groups: the Board of Registry of the American Association of Bioanalysts, The Board of Registry of the American Society for Clinical Pathology, The National Credentialing Agency for Laboratory Personnel, and the American Medical Technologists. The cost of certification runs from $1,500 to $3,500.
A phlebotomist certification is not the only course of study you can pursue in the field. You can also obtain an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree. Obviously, these higher levels of training will go more in-depth into all the topics related to the field, and prepare you for potential supervisory roles. After certification, you are now ready for work in a hospital, private lab, veterinary lab or hospital, a blood bank or a pathology lab.
While the salary of a phlebotomist is not high at the entry level, there is a great potential for job growth and advancement with further experience and training. The average annual salary of a phlebotomist is about $27,000. As with other clinical positions, jobs in the federal sector will usually pay the most, followed by those in hospitals. The hourly rate for phlebotomy work is also higher in a doctor’s office than in a hospital.
Phlebotomist Job Prospects
The current phlebotomist job prospects are looking very good indeed. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported overall expected growth of 14 percent by 2018. New technology will bring new kinds of blood tests, and it is predicted that the amount of employment will be higher than the number of applicants.