What Does it Take to Become a Phlebotomist?
When you consider the specialized nature and high demand for qualified graduates, it is completely understandable that so many medical students are interested in becoming a phlebotomist. In fact, with there being such a clear path to certification, this rising demand has seen phlebotomy become one of the most enticing career prospects in the entire medical industry.
However, the exciting career prospects and general stability in this sector is often overlooked for the simple fact that the road to becoming a phlebotomist is wrongly assumed to be a very long one. Yes, this is most definitely not true and the steps involved are rather straight forward, not to mention affordable.
With that said, the following is a brief guide on how to become a phlebotomist and what to expect as soon as you qualify:
Career Prospects and How to Become a Phlebotomist
In order to know how to become a phlebotomist, we must firstly understand the precise nature of phlebotomy itself which is the practice of extracting small samples of blood from a patient. Various medical instruments are used to remove the blood such as needles and it is also the job of a phlebotomist to examine this sample before recording their initial findings.
Quite often, a phlebotomist works on the instruction or request from a physician, while the purpose of this process is to provide samples to medical laboratories for relevant tests.
In this regard, you should already know that such blood samples are commonly required in hospitals, clinics and various medical institutions which ensures the career prospects for a phlebotomist are more than promising. Furthermore, recent studies by the Bureau of Labor have shown that the demand in this particular field is expected to increase in the coming years and beyond.
As for salary, in the United States, the average wage of a phlebotomist ranges between $14 and $20 per hour, but most often the experience of a particular phlebotomist will warrant considerably more. Either way, the pay is good and future growth of phlebotomists is bright.
How Long Does it Take?
For recent graduates, the thought of further learning or certification can sound like another lengthy process but on the contrary, the relatively short amount of time it takes to become a phlebotomist is what can often make this role or career so appealing.
Simply put, provided that you qualify for enrollment, a specialized phlebotomy program can take as little as one year to complete, which make them very accommodating for people with families or with jobs already.
Phlebotomy Certification Qualifications
Although some medical institutions insist on a bachelor’s degree in life sciences and medical technology, the path to becoming a phlebotomist can be a rather straight forward process which requires a mere fraction of the time it takes to complete a degree. Similarly, the option of completing a specialized certificate in this particular field means that becoming a phlebotomist does not need to be an extremely expensive ordeal.
In fact, the only stipulation concerning enrollment for a specialized phlebotomy certificate is that every applicant must have a valid GED or high school diploma, so provided you have one, it is just a matter of choosing the right program in which to enroll.
Certification is the most important step on your path to becoming a phlebotomist as it will demonstrate your ability, separate you from other candidates, demonstrate your necessity to health care institutions, and is legally required in a number of states including California, Louisiana, Nevada, and Washington. If you live in these states, it’s just another reason to get certified!
Once certified, you are ready to seek your first employment and complete the task of becoming a phlebotomist by gaining some valuable first hand experience.
Specific Requirements of a Phlebotomist
That being said, there are certain requirements which every successful phlebotomist is expected to meet. In a medical institution, attention to detail is no less than crucial while compassion is another necessity when dealing with patients in what can be particularly stressful or upsetting circumstances. And then there is patient, stamina, hygiene and personal health; traits and characteristics which will allow any phlebotomist to perform in challenging circumstances and with the highest possible standards.
4 Simple Steps to Becoming a Phlebotomist
Step 1 – Earn a High School Diploma
Firstly, are you ready to enroll in a phlebotomist certification program? If you have either a high school diploma or GED, you are entitled to enroll in a program of your choice. Another prerequisite for enrollment is that you must be 18 years of age.
Step 2 – Choose a Certification Program
Although the goal of every program is to acquire certification, programs differ between technical schools and college programs. For example, some programs will start with the absolute basics while others are phlebotomy certification courses intended for recent graduates who already have a basic understanding of phlebotomy.
Some programs are also shorter than others but the point of the matter is that you should check all available options and choose the one that is best for you.
Step 3 – Complete Phlebotomy Certification Program and Acquire Certification
Most certification programs comprise of two distinct parts: an in-class theoretical portion and a hands-on clinical portion, followed by an exam for your certification.
Phlebotomy Theory / Practical Hands-On
At this point, it is time to start your journey to becoming a phlebotomist. Consisting of both in-class, theory-based learning and on-the-job work experience, you will spend most of this time learning about the role and processes involved in phlebotomy.
Having completed the course, you will be required to sit a phlebotomy exam and upon passing this exam, one of the following accreditation organisations will provide you with a certificate in phlebotomy:
- American Medical Technologists (AMT)
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
- American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP)
- American Certification Agency (ACA)
- National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT)
Please note that there are several more agencies which provide certification but in this respect, the above are the most trusted and respected organizations.
Step 4 – Start Your Job as a Certified Phlebotomist
Having received your certification, the final step to becoming a phlebotomist is to find a medical facility with which you would like to start working. Given how experience is equally as important as certification, keep in mind that phlebotomists are in high demand in the medical industry so your very first position, is unlikely to be the last.
Whether you speak with your course instructors, call around the HR departments in local facilities or use classified sites like Monster or Indeed, finding work as a phlebotomist is a lot less challenging than most other roles in the industry.
Affordable and easily accessed, certification programs for phlebotomists are a relatively straight forward process and once certified, you should find that your new role was worth every last bit of effort.