How to Become a Phlebotomist

Phlebotomists collect and exam blood samples in a hospital, clinical or research setting. In order to become a phlebotomist, you need to complete phlebotomist training which can include a two- or four-year degree as well as the successful completion of a phlebotomist certification course or program.

Education

Some entry-level phlebotomy jobs will require that the applicant has completed their high school or a GED. Other positions will require an associate degree or an undergraduate degree in clinical sciences. There are some college programs that are specific for phlebotomy. According to College Navigator, provided by the National Center for Education Statistics, there are over two hundred schools that offer phlebotomy education in the US.

On their websites, the Center for Phlebotomy Education and National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS) provide a list of educators in this field.

Certification

Though it is not required by all states, many employers will prefer that you have or are in the process of acquiring certification in phlebotomy. National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS) devotes a section to their website to certification in phlebotomy. You will also be able to find resources on the National Credentialing Agency for Laboratory Personnel and the American Society for Clinical Pathology websites. You will also be required to pass the National NPA Certification Examination.

Types of Jobs

As a phlebotomy technician, you will be responsible for collecting samples, including skin puncture and collecting blood.  You must also be familiar with the storage and processing of samples. You will need good organizational abilities, and experience with data entry and categorization are assets in this position.

As a phlebotomy supervisor, you will also be responsible for collection, processing and storing samples, but you will also be responsible for training other staff in procedures in the laboratory environment, supervising their work and quality control procedures.

Getting Started

The minimum requirement is the successful completion of high school or a GED. You should try to find volunteer or paid opportunities working in a hospital setting, dealing with patients of all ages. Getting training is especially important because many positions require that you deal with patients in a friendly and positive manner, especially if the person is frightened or unsure about the test and the procedures.

You should look for opportunities to develop your organizational skills, such as data entry, managing and documenting inventory, using spreadsheets or databases to store information. Getting some experience in a laboratory setting and learning about work place safety, organization and cleanliness in this environment are also assets when applying to a phlebotomy position.

Since phlebotomists work with all different patient groups, experience working with children, young adults and seniors could also assist you when applying to these positions. Some phlebotomists also specialize in certain areas, such as pediatrics, so highlight this experience in your resume if you are applying to a position that deals with a specific client group.

Most positions will also accept a year's experience as a paramedic or other health professional before applying to a phlebotomy position. Some phlebotomy positions will also combine nursing experience, so this may be an alternative to a nursing career.

Additional Requirements

Some of these positions will also ask for a drug screen during the application process, and that your own vaccinations, especially for hepatitis B, measles, mumps and rubella, are currently up-to-date.