A phlebotomist salary is just one of several factors that has made this occupation one of the top choices among people looking for a career in health care. Phlebotomists, or phlebotomy technicians, draw blood from patients for a variety of diagnostic tests and transfusions. They also label, transport and store specimens until they can be analyzed. Some phlebotomists who work in research labs also draw blood from laboratory animals that are subjects of studies.
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Phlebotomists are part of the growing workforce of allied health care workers who support doctors, nurses and other medical professionals. The job outlook for all allied health care workers is excellent. The U.S. health care system is growing to accommodate a generation of baby boomers who are requiring more medical attention as they grow older. Other changes in the health care system that will make medical treatment accessible to all people, regardless of income, are also triggering an increase in allied health care job opportunities across the board.
Phlebotomists play an important role in all areas of health care. Some work in the offices of doctors, others work with patients in hospitals. Because blood analysis is a fundamental part of medical treatment, some phlebotomists work in rehabilitation centers and nursing homes collecting samples that are used to monitor a patient’s treatment or progress. Phlebotomists also work for blood banks collecting, storing and maintaining a blood supply for trauma victims that require transfusions. And, as mentioned, some phlebotomists draw blood samples from people,and also from animals, being monitored for research studies.
Training and Certification
Phlebotomy training often involves earning a two-year associate degree at a community college. Many schools also offer a one-year certificate program in phlebotomy. Students learn how to perform venipuncture, a procedure that involves inserting a needle into a patient’s vein and collecting blood in special vacuum tubes. There are also special methods of collecting blood from infants and elderly patients.
Training also includes courses in anatomy, medical terminology, safety protocols and sterile hospital and lab procedures. Most programs also require some general courses on health care systems and medical ethics. Because phlebotomists work with people of all ages who have a wide range of health problems, they must also have good communication skills and have a solid understanding of patient care.
After completing their course work, most phlebotomists also take a standardized test to earn their national certification. Several different professional phlebotomy organizations and associations offer certification exams, and while not all jobs require certification, it can be an advantage in a competitive job market.
Phlebotomist Salary Levels
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, phlebotomists earn an average of $15 an hour, or $27,000 to $28,000 per year. Phlebotomists who work in hospitals usually earn more than those who work in private medical practices, and those with an associate degree tend to earn higher salaries than those who have a graduated from a certificate program.
Location can also determine a phlebotomist salary range. California, New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Delaware are among the states where phlebotomists earn the highest rates of pay. San Francisco, Providence, Bridgeport, CT, Bethesda, and Bangor, ME, are some of the urban areas with the highest salaries.
Phlebotomists with several years of experience can often advance to higher-paying managerial positions, and oversee a team of phlebotomists within a hospital. Phlebotomists are also well-positioned to parley their skills and education into high-paying jobs such as medical and clinical laboratory technicians.
A phlebotomist salary is just one of many factors, including job security and opportunities for advancement, worth weighing when considering this occupation as a career.