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Few people probably know the term phlebotomist, but it’s the health care professional who draws blood and ensures the proper amount is taken and that all blood is properly labeled. Whether you have been a patient or a blood donor, you have visited one in a medical lab, a blood donor center or a doctor’s office. Anyone who chooses this field has to be comfortable with blood, needles, databases, test tubes and blood vials. You will draw blood, verify the patient’s or blood donor’s identity, label the blood and enter patient information into a database. You’ll assemble and maintain equipment as well to prevent infections or other complications. Phlebotomists also tend to reassure nervous patient who don’t like needles, and some of them will explain what they are doing for patients who are interested.

If you become phlebotomist, you’ll likely spend your days in a hospital or lab, so be sure you’re comfortable with medical environments where people may be uncertain or worried about their health. You’ll work full time, and you may be expected to work on nights, weekends and holidays. Lisa Scott, an assistant phlembotomy supervisor at Greater Baltimore Medical Center who has been working in the field for 32 years, starts her mornings at 3 a.m. to get to work by 5 a.m. when she begins seeing patients. She may draw blood from as many as 150 patients a day. To ensure things go smoothly, Scott employs laughter to help the patient feel better. As she puts it, “There’s a body attached to that arm.”

If you enjoy working with people and are patient and compassionate, this could be the job for you. You won’t necessarily make a lot of money, but Scott says the job can be “very rewarding” because you’re helping people and interact with a diverse group of patients. The average annual salary is about $30,000, and the projected growth for this field is close to 27 percent, with 27,100 new jobs to be filled in through 2022, much faster than the average for all jobs.


Phlebotomists made a median salary of $29,730 in 2012, according to the BLS. The highest-paid 10 percent in the profession earned $42,600, while the lowest-paid earned $21,340 that year. About 40 percent of phlebotomists worked in general medical and surgical hospitals in 2012, while 26 percent worked in medical and diagnostic laboratories, 18 percent in other ambulatory health care services, and 9 percent in physicians’ offices. California pays phlebotomists the best: The best-paying cities for this occupation include Oakland, Stockton and Santa Barbara.

Salary Range

75th Percentile $35,920
Median $29,730
25th Percentile $25,110


Phlebotomists don’t need to be certified in every state – currently, only California, Louisiana and Nevada mandate it – but still, most employers seek those who have completed a certificate program and earned professional certification. Programs are available at community colleges, vocational schools or technical schools which offer courses in anatomy, physiology and medical terminology, as well as clinical experience. It usually takes less than a year to complete the program, at the end of which students take a certification exam. Visit the websites for organizations like the National Center for Competency Testing or the American Medical Technologists website for information on becoming certified.

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After you’ve completed your certification, begin applying for jobs with hospitals, diagnostic laboratories and blood donor centers. Those are the places the BLS predicts will have the most job openings. Employers are looking for trained phlebotomists with good hand-eye coordination (you’re pricking skin, after all) and a good bedside manner. In your interview, emphasize your attention to detail, since phlebotomists spend a great deal of time marking blood vials and tracking them, not to mention dealing with copious amounts of data entry.

Job Satisfaction

Upward Mobility fair Average
Stress Level poor Above Average
Flexibility fair Average
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Last updated by Harriet Edleson.

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