Have you ever heard of phlebotomy technicians? Well, if you have ever had a blood sample taken in a hospital or a clinic, there is a good chance that you have actually met a phlebotomy tech. Their job is to draw blood from patients to use for blood samples. They also do the work of labeling the samples, performing tests on the blood, as well as maintaining and cleaning the test equipment used in the process.
But are they doctors? Nurses? No – very often they are trained in just that one task – drawing blood and working with blood samples. How is this interesting for you? Well, becoming a phlebotomy technician requires a lot less schooling than becoming a doctor or a nurse. As a matter of fact, in many states (in the US) you do not even need to be certified! In Louisiana and California however, you do need the certificate. Even if you do not live in either of those states, you would still do well to take the courses needed, as your chances of getting a job will increase by a lot. It is not unlikely that only trained phlebotomists will be able to get work sometime in the future.
What is a typical phlebotomist salary, I hear you ask? It will vary depending on where you get the work, but a good estimate would be that a newly certified tech could make 30.000$ per year – and expect to gradually make more, as experience is accumulated and perhaps further training is added. Again, having the certificate can only help you towards that salary, as your employees will then have proof that you are worth it.
How long does it take to become a certified phlebotomy technician? There are actually three different rungs on the ladder to becoming a fully-fledged phlebotomy tech.
Limited Phlebotomy Technician – This is the basic step of the training, after which you are allowed to do simple skin puncture and nothing else. An example of skin puncture blood collection is the little pin prick in the tip of a finger used when only a few drops of blood are needed, or if venipuncture is somehow not practical or recommended. It is also called “capillary blood collection”.
Certified Phlebotomy Technician I – Here, you are required to complete a minimum 20 hours of basic lessons and 20 hours on more advanced topis. These courses must be taken in schools approved by the Department of Public Health, by the way. In addition to that, you must successfully perform 50 venipunctures and 10 skin punctures on real patients. You must also pass a written exam. If you already have a certain amount of on-the-job experience, you can skip the basic lessons and go straight to the advanced ones though.
Certified Phlebotomy Technician II – To enter this advanced part of your education, you must have passed all the tests and exams for step I – and you must have at least 1040 hours of on-the-job experience under your belt. You will then go through another 20 hours of lessons on advance topics, as well as do 50 venipunctures, 10 skin punctures and 20 arterial punctures successfully.
Before you even enter your first classes though, make sure you have either a high school diploma or a GED, with completed coursework in biology, chemistry, English and some computer science at minimum. Algebra and geometry are also good, as well as having studied a foreign language. Remember that as a phlebotomist, you will often come in contact with people who do not speak English well – if at all – and you are expected to be able to communicate with them to the degree that you can do your work with their acceptance.
So how do you get the certificate? As mentioned, you need to enter a course which is approved by the Department of Public Health. This could take place in vocational schools or at community colleges. Course duration may vary some, but should always be properly accredited by the authorities.
If you think you might like a career related to the medical sciences, a job that consists of helping people and doing lab and computer work as well, then a phlebotomy certification may just be for you.