What Does a Phlebotomist Do?

If the sight of blood doesn’t make you squeamish, then a career as a phlebotomist could be for you. Phlebotomy technicians draw and prepare blood for medical tests, transfusions or donations. (Don’t let the funny name confuse you; it comes from the Greek work for vein.)

Phlebotomists collect blood through a patient’s vein (venipuncture) or through a finger prick (capillary sample). They are important members of the healthcare team. If you’ve ever had a calm, experienced phlebotomist take your blood — or the opposite — then you know what we mean. This technician is often the first or only person a patient will interact with. If a patient is anxious, the phlebotomist first has to make the person more comfortable.

If you enjoyed science classes in high school and are interested in working in a healthcare setting, this career is a good way to know if that’s a good fit for you. Plus, you can become a phlebotomist in less than a year! Keep on reading if you want to know more. 

$ 30,700 - $ 50,400
$ 38,300
Phlebotomist inserts a needle to take a blood sample
Not familiar with the job name? A phlebotomist is the person who draws your blood when you go to the doctor’s office. (Credit: Andrey_Popov/Shutterstock)

Job Responsibilities

  • Explain blood draw or transfusion process to patients
  • Draw blood for testing or processing
  • Accurately label the drawn blood
  • Assist patients who experience adverse reactions
  • Enter patient information into a database
  • Maintain medical instruments such as needles, test tubes and vials
  • Keep work areas sanitary
  • Adhere to all safety protocols

How To Become a Phlebotomist: FAQs

What is required to become a phlebotomist?

Some phlebotomists enter the occupation with a high school diploma and are trained on the job, but most employers look for candidates who have completed an accredited postsecondary phlebotomy program. Educational programs are available from community colleges and technical schools and result in a phlebotomy certificate or diploma. Programs are accredited by the American Association of Allied Health Professionals (AAAHP).

Programs include hands-on experience, clinical laboratory work and instruction in anatomy, physiology and medical terminology. Phlebotomy students also receive detailed instructions on how to identify, label and track blood samples.

Once you have successfully completed a program, you’re eligible to take a national certification exam. Not all states require this step, but some employers prefer candidates who are nationally certified. 

Finally, expect to keep on learning. Many phlebotomists take continuing education credits from groups such as the American Society of Phlebotomy Technicians. 

What other qualifications are necessary?

Proof of graduation from high school (or equivalent), immunization records and CPR certification are typically required to start a training program. Some employers also require job candidates to pass a background check.

How long does it take to become a phlebotomist?

A phlebotomy certificate usually takes less than a year to complete. There are three levels of certification: Limited Phlebotomy Technician (LPT), Certified Phlebotomy Technician I (CPT I) and Certified Phlebotomy Technician II (CPT II). National certification may require additional preparation time.

Where do phlebotomists work?

They work in hospitals, outpatient care facilities, clinics, physician’s offices and diagnostic laboratories. They also work for blood donation drives. At facilities that are open 24 hours a day, night and weekend shifts are required. 

Is there a demand for this job?

Job opportunities for phlebotomists are expected to grow a remarkable 22% from 2020 to 2030. To put that in perspective, job growth for all occupations in the U.S. during that same time period is expected to increase about 8%.

What skills and qualities would make someone a good fit for this job?

A successful phlebotomist usually has these attributes: 
•    Good interpersonal skills to help blood donors feel comfortable
•    A focused, professional attitude
•    Excellent dexterity and hand-eye coordination
•    Stays calm and works effectively under pressure
•    Detail-oriented

The bottom line:

Physicians need blood drawn as a first step in any diagnosis. That’s why a skilled phlebotomist is so crucial to a medical team’s success. What other career can put you into such a vital position with less than a year of study? 

What Is It Like To Be a Phlebotomist?

Becky Palsgrove, phlebotomist

What Is It Like To Be a Phlebotomist?

Becky Palsgrove started as a part-time phlebotomist in September 2019, but it didn't take long for her to make it a career. 

"When I’m able to collect blood from someone who’s a 'hard stick,' I feel proud," says Becky of patients who aren't keen on getting their blood drawn. "I really do feel like a valued member of the care team when I do a good job."

Her ability to connect with patients and be respectful of their fears has made her better at her job.

Phlebotomist Training in Your Area

Hutchinson Community College logo

Phlebotomy Certificate

Hutchinson Community College
Hutchinson (138.4 Miles)

Phlebotomy Certificate

Metropolitan Community College (MO)
Kansas City (149.7 Miles)
School logo for Manhattan Area Technical College in Manhattan KS

Phlebotomy, A.A.S.

Manhattan Area Technical College
Manhattan (153.6 Miles)
North Arkansas College logo

Phlebotomy Technician Certificate

North Arkansas College
Harrison (157.4 Miles)
Grayson College logo

Phlebotomy Certificate

Grayson College
Denison (239.5 Miles)
Grayson College logo

Phlebotomy Technician Non- Credit Certificate

Grayson College
Denison (239.5 Miles)
Southern Arkansas University Tech logo

Phlebotomy Certificate of Proficiency

Southern Arkansas University Tech
Camden (292.5 Miles)
Southern Arkansas University Tech logo

Health Sciences (Phlebotomy Option), A.A.S.

Southern Arkansas University Tech
Camden (292.5 Miles)
Des Moines Area Community College logo

Phlebotomy Specialist Certificate

Des Moines Area Community College
Ankey (338.2 Miles)
Southwest Tennessee Community College logo

Laboratory Phlebotomy Certificate

Southwest Tennessee Community College
Memphis (352.4 Miles)
Southwest Tennessee Community College logo

Laboratory Phlebotomy Certificate

Southwest Tennessee Community College
Memphis (352.4 Miles)
Lincoln Land Community College

Phlebotomy Training

Lincoln Land Community College
Springfield (376.9 Miles)