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How to Become a Phlebotomy Technician (& Job Description)

How to become a phlebotomy technician

The literal translation of the word ‘phlebotomy’ comes from the combination of two Greek words. Phlebo- which means ‘pertaining to a blood vessel,' and -tomia which means ‘cutting off.' Translated again, it simply means ‘making an incision into a vein with a needle.'

Phlebotomists are the medical professionals who draw blood. The procedure of phlebotomy removes blood from a body by having a hollow needle inserted into a vein. Through this procedure, the phlebotomist takes samples of blood to perform medical tests, diagnoses, and analysis. Phlebotomy is also used as a treatment for some disorders such as Hepatitis B and C which causes an overabundance of iron in the bloodstream.

Phlebotomist Job Description

ralph waldo emerson quote-article how to become a phlebotomy tech

As part of a medical team, it’s the phlebotomist's job to take blood from patients. These blood samples that the phlebotomist takes are usually sent to a medical lab for tests to check any health issues in the patient. A phlebotomist's training and duties may vary by state but here are the primary job duties of a phlebotomist:

  • Collect blood from patients
  • Accurately identify the patient to prevent lab mix-ups
  • Properly label vials with the patient’s name, date, and any other required information
  • Decide the best way to draw blood from the patient
  • You may have to take the blood to the lab
  • If allowed/required, centrifuge the vial of blood
  • Be friendly and empathetic; you’ll be working with patients who may be very sick or terrified of needles
  • Keep organized, and follow safety precautions
  • Some phlebotomists work strictly for companies that do blood drives such as the Red Cross

Becoming a Phlebotomist

There are a few requirements that need to be fulfilled before you can start your work as a phlebotomist. Phlebotomy is an entry-level job within the medical field, but it sets the groundwork in the event of wanting to become a registered nurse or beyond!

  • Get your high school diploma or GED
  • Be a minimum of 18 years old
  • Enroll and complete an ACCREDITED phlebotomy training program through a community college or trade school
  • Get licensed and certified to make yourself more desirable to employers. In some states it’s mandatory, in others it’s preferred
  • Get hired as a phlebotomist through a medical practice, hospital, clinic, or laboratory!

Find a phlebotomy program near you.

Phlebotomy Program Information

Depending on your state will determine what skills and training will be required of you. Whichever program you choose to enroll in, make sure it’s accredited. Otherwise, it’s harder to obtain the necessary licensing and certifications. If you did well in high school sciences, chances are you’ll have an easier time in any phlebotomy program. The programs are science heavy. There will be hands-on experience mixed with in-class coursework. To graduate from the course, you must maintain a minimum of a C average.

  • Course work will include anatomy and physiology, blood and cell composition, blood sampling procedures, lab safety, and medical terminology.
  • Hands-on training will include basic techniques, butterfly and finger stick methods, heel stick and capillary puncture which are used on newborns, CPR, and first aid.

Full-time attendance at a trade school will take 3-4 months to complete while associate degree programs will take two years with full-time attendance. Degrees are not necessary however they can provide you with better future opportunities.

Getting Your Phlebotomy Certification

How to become a phlebotomy technician with quote by Jim Rohn

Right now, only four states; California, Nevada, Washington, and Louisiana, require certification for anyone who handles blood, other than doctors or nurses. However, most other states prefer to hire certified phlebotomist's so without any certifications, an otherwise qualified phlebotomist may have a difficult time finding a job. It’s important to check with your state to find out exactly what you’re permitted to do on the job, as each state varies.

California and Florida have their own certification agencies, so they do not accept the following ones, aside from ASCP.

There are a few different, highly-regarded entities to receive certifications from:

80 questions with 2 hours for completion

Qualifications For Certification Eligibility

  • High school diploma or GED with completion of an approved/accredited phlebotomy program in the last 5 years
  • High school diploma/GED and completion of an approved/accredited two-part phlebotomy program that had 40 hours of classroom and 100 hours of clinical. Must have a minimum of 100 successful skin punctures/venipunctures
  • High school diploma plus a minimum of one-year lab work experience within five years of applying for certification
  • High school graduate, completion of RN, LPN or other health profession education that included phlebotomy. 100 unsupervised, successful blood draws
  • High school diploma, completion of a program approved by California Department of Health within the past five years
  • Exam application fees: $135-$530

The Certification Test Covers:

  • Procedures, policies, terminology
  • Choosing appropriate area to draw blood from
  • Deciding on best blood drawing method for patient
  • Handling blood
  • Prepping patients, samples, and equipment
  • Evaluation of patient

ASCP Website

Qualifications For Certification Eligibility

  • One year as a part-time phlebotomist
  • Six months as a full-time phlebotomist
  • A letter from a health care supervisor vouching for the regular blood draw; must become a member of ASPT written on faculty letterhead; OR needs the signature of supervisor/instructor on application stating that the above is all true.
  • Must have documented 100 successful venipunctures, 5 documented skin punctures, and be a current ASPT member
  • Exam application fee: $55 plus membership fee

ASPT Website

Qualifications For Certification Eligibility

  • One year of work experience and presently employed
  • Clinical experience not acceptable and need a reference letter from employer which verifies length of employment
  • Attended phlebotomy training program that included venipuncture techniques, hands-on internship, 160 classroom credits, and 16 continuing education credits
  • Exam application fee: $130 needed 30 days before test date

NPA Website

Qualifications For Certification Eligibility

  • Completion of phlebotomy training program within the last five years
  • Performed 30 venipunctures
  • Performed 10 capillary sticks
  • Have a high school diploma or GED
  • Exam application fee: $105

NHA Website

Qualifications For Certification Eligibility

  • High school diploma or GED
  • Diploma or certificate from approved/accredited phlebotomy program with official transcript from the program

How To Get Certified

  • Currently enrolled in a phlebotomy program from an NCCT authorized school or graduated from one within the last five years
  • Completed one year of verifiable employment as phlebotomist within the last five years
  • Completed Phlebotomy training in the United States military or equivalent while on active duty in the last five years
  • Exam application fee: $90-$195 (fees have not changed in 10 years)

NCCT Website

The 3 Categories of Phlebotomy

There are three different categories of phlebotomist's, and each has separate sets of educational requirements. Whether you’re in it for the short-term or the long-haul, you should be aware of what’s involved within the three different phlebotomy categories:

Allows the tech to do skin puncture blood withdrawal only

  • High school diploma or GED
  • Completed 20 hours of instruction from an accredited and approved program
  • Proof of 25 supervised skin punctures from clinical training
  • Apply for certification as Limited Phlebotomy Technician

Maintaining Certification

  • Monthly supervisor review
  • Competency review annually
  • Continuing ed: 3 hours yearly or 6 hours every two years
  • Certification must be displayed in a visible place

Allowed to do venipunctures and skin punctures only

  • High school diploma or GED
  • Completed 40 hours of instruction from an accredited and approved program
  • Completed 40 hours of practical hands-on instruction with proof of supervised 10 skin punctures and 50 venipunctures
  • Less than 1040 hours of on-the-job experience, a letter of reference from an approved practitioner stating hours and experience would only necessitate an additional 40 hours of instruction
  • More than 1040 hours of experience would require a letter of reference from an approved practitioner stating hours and experience would only require an additional 20 hours of instruction
  • Passed a written exam by an approved certifying organization
  • Applied for certification

Maintaining Certification

  • Monthly supervisor review
  • Competency review annually
  • Continuing ed: 3 hours per year or 6 hours every two years
  • Certification must be displayed in a visible place

Authorized to perform arterial, venipunctures, and skin punctures

  • Have a current Phlebotomy Technician I certification with 1040 hours in the past five years
  • Completed 20 arterial punctures with a letter stating this fact
  • Apply for Phlebotomy Technician II certification

Maintaining Certification

  • Annual competency review
  • Continuing education: 3 hours annually or six every two years
  • Certification must be displayed in a visible place

Phlebotomy Program Cost

Phlebotomy is one career path in the medical field that doesn’t cost a fortune. It’s relatively quick and painless to become a certified phlebotomy technician. Certificate programs can cost between $300-$800 plus the cost of certification applications. Extra school costs such as textbooks and the phlebotomist's practice kit and tools can add another $500. Associate degrees can run around $2500 per year plus the cost of books and supplies, which are similar to certificate programs.

Phlebotomy Technician Salary

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in 2021, the average salary for phlebotomy technicians in 2021 was $38,450. The top 10 percent made closer to $48,490. Phlebotomists work full time, and some may have irregular hours if they work in hospitals or after-hour clinics.

Top Paying States For Phlebotomy


Average Salary



New York






Phlebotomist Job Outlook

Phlebotomy careers will experience a very large employment growth of 22 percent by 2030, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is much faster than the national average. Demand for certified phlebotomist technicians will remain high because there will always be a need for blood to be drawn for a variety of medical reasons.