Phlebotomists play an essential role in healthcare, and the demand for these specialists is constantly rising. Such a career allows you to work in various settings and can easily provide a stable income.
The best part is that you might be able to become a phlebotomist and find a job in only about a year.
Keep on reading to find out exactly how long each step of the process might take.
Who Is a Phlebotomist?
A phlebotomist is a specialist who collects blood from patients and prepares the samples for testing. The majority of them work in clinics and hospitals.
A phlebotomist should not only know all the necessary information about different blood tests but must also be aware of how diet and medications can impact the samples. The best phlebotomists should be able to put the patients at ease before the procedure as well.
To become a phlebotomist, you must have a high school diploma or equivalent. You would also typically be required to complete a phlebotomist training program.
To advance your career, you can get certified in a certain area and become a donor phlebotomy technician, for example, or a phlebotomy specialist. With additional education, you can later become a medical assistant, medical lab technician, or an RN.
How Long Is a Phlebotomy Training Program?
There is a plethora of different training programs that you can choose from. Just make sure to pick one from the approved phlebotomy training school list.
Related: Explore our detailed Phlebotomist education and training guide
Overall, the program might take you anywhere between a few weeks and 6 months to complete, but it’s typically not recommended to go for a course that lasts only for 14 days or so.
There are minimum state requirements for completion of a phlebotomy course. And though those can vary, you should typically expect around 20 hours of basic didactic, 20 hours of advanced education, and about a 40-hour internship. In many cases, the longer the course, the more effectively you’ll be prepared for your future work.
To pass the training program, you typically must do at least 30 successful skin punctures and over 100 successful venipunctures. The former type of puncture involves pricking the skin to collect a small amount of blood, and the latter type involves inserting a bigger needle in the vein to collect a larger amount of blood.
Program Outline Example:
Community colleges, technical schools, and trade schools usually offer phlebotomy training programs.
Here’s what to expect from the program that might cost you between $700 and $1,800:
- Phlebotomy Lecture
Lectures will consist of basic anatomy and physiology, the theory and principles of blood collection, and medical terms and abbreviations.
- Laboratory Practice
20-45 hours of laboratory practice for blood collection procedures.
- Clinical Rotation
Placement in a clinical setting for those students who have completed the previous units.
What Are the Phlebotomy Training Requirements?
- A high school diploma is typically the minimum educational requirement for a phlebotomy training program
- Only those over the age of 18 can apply in the majority of cases
- Before enrollment, you might have to pass a background check and drug screening and provide immunization records
- Some schools might require you to have a minimum GPA of 80 out of 100 or 2.5 out of 4.0
Do bear in mind that the requirements can vary from one school to another, so make sure to check what is necessary to get enrolled in your chosen program.
Do You Need to Become Certified?
In most states, you do not need certification to work as a phlebotomist. But you might not be able to find a job without a certificate. Furthermore, certification is required in California, Louisiana, Washington, and Nevada to draw blood.
Related: Explore our detailed Phlebotomist certification guide
You would be eligible to take the national certification examination for phlebotomy once you have completed your training course. The certification from the American Society for Clinical Pathology, or ASCP, is recognized internationally. It can be attained after successfully passing an exam which includes 80 questions that should be answered within 2 hours.
Depending on your experience, you can obtain different certification levels – Limited Phlebotomy Technician (LPT), Certified Phlebotomy Technician 1 (CPT 1), or Certified Phlebotomy Technician 2 (CPT 2).
How Long Does It Take to Become Certified?
To be able to take the exam, you would have to create an account with ASCP and register for the exam online. The process involves providing some documents, so make sure to have your official transcripts from all of your schools on hand.
Most employers require the candidate to have at least CPT 1, so you might want to aim for that certification level. To achieve it, you can have no experience or less or more than 1040 hours of experience.
Those without experience must have 20 hours of advanced phlebotomy classes, 40 hours of training in a hospital setup, 50 venipuncture, and 10 skin punctures.
It can take you a few hours to register and another 2 to complete the exam. But you might have to apply at least 2 weeks before the exam.
You would have to contact your school coordinator to determine when you will receive your documents. Remember that the results are usually sent out after 8-10 weeks and that the count time does not begin until 30 days after the examination has passed.
Is There an Associate’s Degree in Phlebotomy?
You can’t get an associate’s degree in phlebotomy, but there are associate’s degrees that include a phlebotomy certificate.
If you’re enrolled in a medical assisting or medical laboratory technology program, you will most likely attain the needed certification. But if you know that you want to be a phlebotomist, getting an associate’s degree just for that might simply not make sense as it will take 2 years to obtain.
Do You Need to Get a License?
In California, Nevada, Louisiana, and Washington, phlebologists are legally mandated to be licensed.
The main difference between a ‘license’ and a ‘certificate’ is the fact that the government issues the first one, and the second one can be given to you by an accredited organization.
How Long Does It Take to Get a License?
To receive your license, you would have to:
- Successfully complete an accredited phlebotomy training program.
- Pass the Phlebotomy Certification Exam.
- Apply to the State of California/Nevada/Washington/Louisiana for the Phlebotomy License.
So, if you live in one of these states, you would have to spend some extra time applying for your license.
It might take you an hour or a little longer to apply over the official website as you would have to enter your education and certification details. The application attestation can be signed electronically, and after that, you would have to wait about a month before receiving your state license.
To Sum Up
All in all, you must be prepared to spend at least 6 months mastering the skill and obtaining a certificate. However, in some cases, it might take you up to 1.5 years to become a licensed phlebotomist.
But that’s still quite fast, considering that you’ll be able to start a rewarding career and positively impact the lives of others.