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PHLEBOTOMISTS ARE SPECIALIZED CLINICAL SUPPORT workers who draw blood from patients or blood donors for medical testing. They need to ensure that the blood is taken correctly without contaminating the blood samples; otherwise, the test results may be unobtainable or worthless.

Phlebotomists also help prepare the collections by properly labeling and safeguarding them for delivery to the laboratories. They divide their time between taking blood and working in a laboratory with a lab technologist testing drawn blood for disease or other abnormalities. Phlebotomists are also responsible for explaining the procedure to patients, putting patients at ease during the procedure, updating patient records, preparing stains and reagents, cleaning and sterilizing equipment.

The Workplace

Phlebotomists work in a variety of medical settings, such as hospitals, clinics, doctors' offices and laboratories that contain the necessary equipment for drawing and testing blood. When proper methods of infection control and sterilization are followed, few hazards exist. Phlebotomists may work in shifts, and in some instances, they may be required to work on weekends and holidays, or may be on call in case of emergencies. A good personality is a plus for this career, as many times, the phlebotomist is among the first in a series of medical personnel that patients encounter.

Educational Requirements

Educational requirements for phlebotomists vary; however, a high school diploma is necessary. Some medical facilities offer in-house training programs, where the trainee learns on the job. There are also many two-year programs offering phlebotomy certification. The National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS) has approved 57 programs in phlebotomy and clinical assisting. Certification requirements vary from state to state, so it is best for aspiring phlebotomists to contact their local board of health or state government in order to determine what certification is needed.


Salaries for phlebotomists vary according to the area in which they work. Some phlebotomists make minimum wage or just above, and others may make well over $40,000 a year. The Web site www. reports that median wage and salary annual earnings of phlebotomists for 2003 were $42,910, with the top 10 percent earning more than $58,000.

Job Outlook

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Outlook Handbook states that job opportunities for phlebotomists are expected to be excellent because the number of job openings is expected to continue to exceed the number of job seekers. Employment of clinical laboratory workers is expected to grow faster than average for all occupations through the year 2014, as the volume of laboratory tests continues to increase with both population growth and the development of new types of tests.

Bedside Matters

Phlebotomist's supply trays are well stocked as they visit in-house patients to complete blood draws.

Explore More

Here are some places to turn for more information about education and training as a phlebotomist.

American Society of Phlebotomy Technicians

Center for Phlebotomy Education

My Blood Draw

National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences

National Phlebotomy Association

Phlebotomy Pages
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Title Annotation:CAREER CURVE
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2007
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