It's a common misconception that you can only get a career in healthcare if you have a college degree. The truth is that you can have a rewarding career in healthcare even if you only have a high school diploma or a GED.
Phlebotomy is one of these jobs. Aside from not requiring a college degree, a phlebotomy career also offers amazing potential in terms of salary and career advancement.
To help you learn more about being a phlebotomist, we check official sources for the latest data on phlebotomists' salaries, job outlook, and related career opportunities.
We also break down the best states and industries to work as a phlebotomist and ways to increase your value in the field.
Keep reading to know if this is a right career for you to take. You wouldn’t want to spend your time on a job that won’t help you meet your financial goals.
Let's get started.
What does a phlebotomist do?
A phlebotomist is a healthcare professional who specializes in collecting blood samples from patients.
Phlebotomists are an important part of the healthcare team, as they play a vital role in diagnosing and treating many medical conditions.
Some of their tasks include:
- Drawing blood from patients
- Labeling and storing blood samples
- Preparing blood samples for lab testing
- Entering patient information into medical records
As a phlebotomist, you can work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, blood banks, and doctor’s offices.
How to Become a Phlebotomist: Step by Step Process
Unlike other medical professions, you don't need a college diploma to become a phlebotomist.
This makes it an easier and more affordable way to enter the medical field for many people.
In general, here's how to become a phlebotomist:
Step 1: Complete high school or earn a GED
To become a phlebotomist, you'll need to have a high school diploma or GED. If you don't have either of these, you can take an accredited GED program to earn your GED.
Check your local community college or adult education center for GED programs near you.
Step 2: Apply to and complete an accredited phlebotomy program
This is where your initial training will occur. You'll learn things like how to draw blood, phlebotomy standards and codes, how to label and store samples, and information about patient safety, among other things during your phlebotomy course.
An important part of these programs is the hands-on component, during which you'll get to practice your phlebotomy skills on real patients.
Most accredited phlebotomy programs will take around a year to complete, but you can also take fast-tracked programs that can be completed in as little as 6 months.
Can you take phlebotomy classes online? The answer is yes.
Some programs will allow you to take some of the classes online. However, you still need to complete at least 40 hours of in-person, practical training.
Step 3: Pass a certification exam
After you've completed an accredited phlebotomy program, you'll need to sit for and pass a certification exam. There are there certification levels available to phlebotomists:
- Limited Phlebotomy Technician (LPT)
- Certified Phlebotomy Technician I (CPT)
- Certified Phlebotomy Technician II (CPT)
Just like the name indicates, an LPT has the most limited scope of practice. LPTs are only authorized for skin puncture blood collection.
CPTIs can perform all the duties of an LPT, plus venipuncture (blood drawn from a vein).
CPT II s are the most highly skilled and can perform all the duties of a CPTI, plus arterial punctures (blood drawn from an artery).
After you've passed one of these exams, you'll be officially certified and can begin working as a phlebotomist.
(Note: requirements may vary by state. Some states have their own certification exam, so be sure to check the requirements in your state before you begin your training.)
For a more detailed breakdown of how to become a phlebotomist, check out this great article on Nurse.org.
How much can you earn as a phlebotomist?
Now that you know how to become a phlebotomist, let’s talk about how much phlebotomists earn. Here’s a quick breakdown:
Average Salary for Phlebotomists
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for phlebotomists is $17.97 per hour or $37,140 per year.
Phlebotomist Salary Growth for the Next 5 Years
According to NursingProcess.org, phlebotomist income is expected to grow by 15.08% in the next five years, or $37,140 to $42,900.
Phlebotomy Job Outlook for 2020 to 2030
The BLS also projects a 22% growth for the profession from 2020 to 2030, which is much higher than the 8% growth rate for most occupations. This translates to around 19,500 job openings for phlebotomists every year.
5 Industries That Hire the Most Phlebotomists
According to PhlebotomyTraining.org, the largest employers of phlebotomists are blood donation facilities, hospitals, laboratories, doctor’s offices, and outpatient care centers.
So once you become a certified phlebotomist, we recommend shortlisting these places for your job hunt.
Top 10 States in the US with the Highest Phlebotomy Salaries
In general, phlebotomy is an in-demand job with great pay. But if you want to earn more, it’s a good idea to work in states that offer the highest phlebotomy salaries.
Career site Zippia lists the following states that pay phlebotomists the most:
Check out the full state-by-state list of phlebotomist salaries here.
Top 8 Industries That Pay Phlebotomists the Most
Aside from high-paying states, it also pays to see which industries offer the best income for phlebotomists. This list is arranged from highest to lowest:
|INDUSTRY||AVG. HOURLY PAY||AVG. YEARLY PAY|
|Commercial Companies and Enterprises||$20.62||$42,880|
|State-Owned General Medical and Surgical Hospitals||$19.90||$41,390|
|Privately-Owned Specialty Hospitals||$19.42||$40,400|
|Skilled Nursing Care Facilities||$19.33||$40,200|
|Medical and Diagnostic Laboratories||$18.74||$38,970|
4 Factors that Can Affect Phlebotomist Salary
Aside from a few outliers, most phlebotomists earn a relatively similar salary. There are, however, a number of factors that can impact how much phlebotomists are paid:
As with most jobs in the medical field, higher education levels generally lead to higher salaries. For instance, those with related medical degrees or certifications can expect to earn more than those without.
The reason is simple: More education usually means more time spent studying, training, and learning the ins and outs of phlebotomy. This, in turn, makes for a more knowledgeable and skilled practitioner – one who is better equipped to handle the challenges that come with the job.
Like we mentioned earlier, there are several certifications you can take after finishing your phlebotomy program.
The higher your certification is, the more job opportunities you can apply for. For instance, having an LPT will limit you to working in donor centers, while having CPT will open up opportunities to work in hospitals, surgical facilities, and other medical settings that pay more.
Years of experience also play a role in how much phlebotomists are paid. The more years you've spent as a practicing phlebotomist, the more likely you are to earn a higher salary.
Just like any other medical practitioner, such as surgeons and nurses, phlebotomists who've spent more time in the field are usually better equipped to deal with challenges such as difficult veins, uncooperative patients, and so on.
This, in turn, makes them more valuable than entry-level phlebotomists, and thus, they can command a higher salary.
4. Geographic Location
Last but not least, geographic location is another important factor that can affect a phlebotomist's salary. In general, those who practice in urban areas tend to earn more than those in rural areas.
This is because there is usually a higher demand for phlebotomists in urban areas, as there are more hospitals, clinics, and other medical facilities. Consequently, phlebotomists who work in these areas can command better pay.
How can I make more money as a phlebotomist?
If you want to increase your salary or advance your career as a phlebotomist, we recommend the following:
1. Study for a formal phlebotomy diploma
Completing a diploma program for phlebotomy accomplishes two things: first, it gives you the theoretical knowledge required to work as a phlebotomist; second, it provides you with the opportunity to practice your skills in a clinical setting.
This experience will be invaluable when you are seeking full-time employment as a phlebotomist.
2. Get as many certifications as you can
Phlebotomy certifications are not just pieces of paper. They are proof that you know how to perform phlebotomy procedures safely and effectively.
It also demonstrates your commitment to your chosen profession. The more certifications you have, the higher your chances of landing a well-paying job.
Here are some of the most trusted phlebotomy certification organizations in the US:
- The American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP)
- The National Phlebotomy Association
- The American Medical Technologists
For more details on the best phlebotomy certification programs in the field, read this article from The Balance Careers.
3. Do volunteer phlebotomy work
While you won't get paid for this, doing volunteer phlebotomy work is a fantastic way to get better at the job while contributing to your community.
Many employers also view volunteer work favorably, so it's a great way to make yourself stand out from other applicants and negotiate a higher salary.
You can do volunteer work at places like blood banks, hospitals, and community health fairs.
4. Work in High-Paying Locations & Industries
A phlebotomist in New York City typically earns more than one in a small town. The same is true for other high-paying cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington, and Boston.
So, if you're flexible with where you work, consider relocating to an area where phlebotomists are in high demand and the pay is commensurate with the cost of living.
5. Consider Working Overtime or Taking on Contract Jobs
If you can fit it into your schedule, working overtime or taking on contract phlebotomy jobs is a great way to boost your earnings. Just be sure to check with your employer first to make sure they're okay with it.
6. Don't Forget to Factor In the Job Benefits
As a phlebotomist, your basic salary is only part of the story. Many employers offer phlebotomists bonuses, vacation days, and other benefits that can add thousands of dollars to your overall compensation. So, when you're negotiating your salary, be sure to factor in the job benefits as well.
6 Other Jobs You Can Do as a Phlebotomist
Finally, you're not just limited to one job title after becoming a phlebotomist.
In fact, phlebotomy is a terrific way to get your foot in the door of the medical field, and from there you can move up to any number of other positions.
With additional education and training, you could become one or more of the following:
1. Medical Laboratory Technician
A medical lab tech runs tests on samples taken by phlebotomists. They may work with blood, urine, or other bodily fluids.
Because the two jobs are so closely related, many phlebotomists eventually become medical lab techs.
2. EKG Technician
An EKG tech attaches electrodes to a patient's chest in order to measure the electrical activity of their heart.
As a phlebotomist, you're already used to dealing with needles and blood, so this job may be a natural next step.
3. IV Technician
This is another logical next step for a phlebotomist. An IV tech inserts and maintains intravenous catheters, which are used to deliver medications or fluids directly into a patient's veins.
Many hospitals and medical facilities have a need for both phlebotomists and IV techs, so you may be able to find work in the same place you're already employed.
4. Dialysis Technician
A dialysis tech helps patients with kidney failure by operating machines that remove waste and excess fluid from their blood. This job requires more training than most of the others on this list, but it's a great option if you're looking for a long-term career. Most phlebotomy skills, such as drawing blood and starting IVs, are directly applicable to this job.
5. Physician Assistant
A physician assistant is a medical professional who works under the supervision of a doctor. They provide many of the same services as a doctor, such as diagnosing and treating illness, but they do not have a medical degree.
Phlebotomists already have exposure and experience in the medical field, so becoming a physician assistant may be a good option if you're interested in furthering your career.
6. Medical Biller and Coder
A medical biller and coder is responsible for billing insurance companies and patients for medical services.
This job is more admin work than patient care, but it's a great option if you're looking for a position that's less hands-on.
In fact, you can freelance as a medical biller and coder while also working as a phlebotomist, which can give you a nice income boost.
Final Thoughts: Can You Earn a Good Income as a Phlebotomist?
Yes, you can certainly earn a great salary as a phlebotomist. It's also an excellent stepping stone to other careers in the medical field, such as becoming a medical technician or if you wish, a registered nurse or even a medical doctor.
Add the amazing job outlook and salary growth, and you have a career that is definitely worth considering.