Phlebotomy Career Guide - Duties & Pay

Phlebotomists are allied medical professionals who serve a critical purpose in healthcare. Phlebotomists are responsible for the safe collection, processing, and retention of blood samples. The skills phlebotomists use include describing the blood draw procedure to patients and putting them at ease, collecting blood samples, maintaining organized records, and collaborating with other medical care professionals.

Phlebotomists are currently in fairly high demand. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2023), employment of phlebotomists is expected to grow 8 percent between 2022 and 20312—roughly three times the average growth expected among all occupations. Approximately 10,800 openings are projected to be added during the aforementioned decade.

Attrition due to retirement and transfers into other occupations will drive some of the need for phlebotomists. The demographic shift within America due to the aging of the Baby Boomer generation also contributes to demand. America’s growing elderly population will sustain demand for healthcare services, including that of phlebotomists, for many years to come.

Regularly using bloodwork for patient assessment, clinical research, and other purposes means phlebotomists can and do work in many healthcare settings. According to BLS, approximately one-third of all phlebotomy jobs are in state, local, and private hospitals. Another one-third are in medical and diagnostic laboratories. Salaries vary according to several factors, including work experience, training, certification status, and the market in which the individual works. States with higher costs of living will typically pay a higher salary as a means of offering employment opportunities that are competitive with other parts of the country.

The minimum background necessary to enter a phlebotomy training program is typically a high school diploma or equivalent such as a GED. Training requirements vary depending on what job a person ultimately wishes to have. Phlebotomy training programs can prepare students for employment quite quickly; many programs can provide sufficient training anywhere between two months and one year. Training typically features anatomy, blood collection procedures, proper storage and handling of blood samples, and safety precautions.

Phlebotomy professionals may develop their skills within various related fields, such as medical assisting and nursing. Because of the critical importance of phlebotomy, those trained in this field can often easily branch into other healthcare professions. Those who wish to become someone like a donor phlebotomy technician may need to further specialize their knowledge through additional academic coursework and hands-on experience. There currently exist no federal requirements for licensure or certification within the USA. However, as is true for many healthcare professions, phlebotomists will typically be far more competitive candidates if they secure and maintain registration or certification in the state where they work.

Due to the variety of roles in which a phlebotomist may work, there are many certifications a phlebotomist can hold. There is thus only one accepted certification process and a single certifying organization that oversees the entirety of this profession. Examples of certifying organizations include the American Society of Clinical Pathologists, the National Healthcareer Association, American Medical Technologists, and the National Phlebotomy Association.

Read further to learn about various phlebotomy career options, including responsibilities, training requirements, salary, and certification options. Note that the list below is not an exhaustive listing of phlebotomy jobs.

Become a Certified Phlebotomy Technician (CPT)

Phlebotomy technicians constitute a significant percentage of the phlebotomy workforce. A phlebotomist’s most crucial skill is the collection and proper handling of blood samples. Healthcare providers often order blood work to assess patient health as well as the impacts of treatment interventions. Phlebotomy techs may also assist with blood donation events. Successful phlebotomists have skills in interpersonal communication, organization, and record-keeping. The regular use of a variety of equipment and technology necessitates phlebotomists also have good manual dexterity and fine motor skills.

Technicians may work in many settings, including hospitals, clinics, doctors’ offices, nursing homes, private home care, medical labs, blood donation centers, research institutes, and insurance companies. They may work day, evening, or night shifts as well as weekend and holiday hours. Some phlebotomists may work irregular hours or can potentially be on call as a way to respond to emergencies and disasters. Techs spend much of their time on their feet.

The specific duties a phlebotomist technician may have include the following:

  • Explain procedures and any aftercare to patients to secure trust and cooperation
  • Measure blood pressure, pulse, and respiration
  • Perform blood draws and transfusions
  • Organize and maintain blood draw samples
  • Securely maintain, track, and send blood samples for delivery to varied destinations, including laboratories and blood banks.
  • Sterilize equipment and clean workspaces
  • Correctly enter, use, and protect patient information in accordance with all applicable regulations

Many phlebotomy technician training programs offer one of three different programs. They are:

  • Limited Phlebotomy Technician (LPT): Certified to perform skin puncture blood collection.
  • Certified Phlebotomy Technician I (CPT I): Certified to perform skin puncture and venipuncture blood collection.
  • Certified Phlebotomy Technician II (CPT II): Certified to perform skin puncture, venipuncture and arterial (artery) puncture blood collection.

After students graduate, they should hold the requisite knowledge to pass a certification exam successfully. Those seeking certification can use practice tests and other resources to prepare them for the exam.

Become a Registered Phlebotomy Technician (RPT)

Registered phlebotomy technicians often hold positions similar to certified phlebotomy techs. There are essentially three forms of professional recognition that enhance a person’s marketability in the healthcare workforce, namely certification, registration and licensure. Regulations regarding what formal recognition a person must have to practice vary by state and sometimes between urban centers and rural areas within states. As licensure is a common requirement in many states, it is crucial for aspiring professionals to do thorough research to plot out what career path they wish to take.

Individuals seeking to become an RPT can do so via several different training pathways. These are:

  • Pass an accredited phlebotomy course (within the last four years)
  • Gain a cumulative 1040+ hours of experience as a phlebotomy technician in the last three years
  • Work as a health program instructor with at least three years of teaching experience
  • Pay a fee if you have an existing certification from another organization

Once this experience is completed, a person can take the RPT-AMT certification exam. Candidates can retake the exam a maximum of four times.

  • Salary: $40,609 on average per year (ZipRecruiter, October 2023)
  • Certification: Registered Phlebotomy Technician (RPT-AMT)
  • Certifying organization: American Medical Technologists (AMT)

Become a Laboratory Phlebotomist

Phlebotomy and medical assisting are closely related professions. Those who train to become medical assistants will often receive phlebotomy training as part of their required curriculum. It is thus possible to make lateral transfers into roles featuring duties closely related to those of a phlebotomist technician.

Becoming a laboratory phlebotomist can be a wise choice because many phlebotomy jobs are in laboratory settings. Phlebotomists in lab settings may work with a diverse client population, including pregnant women, children, the elderly, those with a variety of pre-existing health issues, and employment candidates completing mandatory drug testing as a part of their application process. This particular job category is fairly sedentary; patients typically travel to the phlebotomist rather than vice versa.

Laboratory phlebotomists can earn several different certifications, such as certified phlebotomy technician (CPT), certified EKG technician (CET), and medical laboratory technician (MLT). Certifications are offered by more than one certifying organization.

  • Salary: $39,500 to $240,000 per year (ZipRecruiter, October 2023)
  • Certification: Certified Phlebotomy Technician (CPT) as well as CET and MLT
  • Certifying organizations: National Healthcareer Association (NHA), American Phlebotomy Association (APA) and the National Phlebotomy Association (NPA) all offer relevant certifications

Become a Traveling Phlebotomist

A traveling phlebotomist draws blood for medical testing, research, and blood donations. They may collect blood in settings such as geriatric centers and blood drives. They may also collect blood as part of the review process for life insurance applicants. The mobility of traveling phlebotomists allows them to work in various settings. They may travel to sites alone or alongside private nurses to assist them in fulfilling their duties. They are usually reimbursed for travel expenses. Traveling phlebotomist jobs can appeal to those for whom a flexible schedule is desirable or even necessary.

Many positions will require people to hold a certification to be eligible for hire. While there is no universal licensure requirement, state licensure can further enhance a candidate’s competitiveness in the job market. Given the expectation of travel, some positions may also require a valid driver’s license.

  • Salary: $38,000 to $59,500 per year (ZipRrecruiter, October 2023)
  • Certification: Phlebotomy technician (NCPT)
  • Certifying organization: National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA)

Become a Phlebotomy Supervisor

Phlebotomy supervisors are responsible for active oversight of a staff of phlebotomists. Duties include monitoring activity in the lab or other settings where staff work, scheduling work hours for staff, organizing and ordering supplies and equipment, ensuring compliance with all regulations and policies, and liaising with other individual professionals and teams in other departments and sites. Supervisors also serve as a vital link between staff and management.

A supervisory role requires a technical degree in phlebotomy, relevant professional certifications, and job experience. One particular path to consider is an associate degree in phlebotomy or clinical technology. Given the interpersonal and managerial skills often needed for a supervisory role, candidates may need additional job training before being considered qualified. Some roles may require a larger amount of formal education, such as a bachelor’s degree. In cases where a position does not require a bachelor’s degree, it can still be wise to attain one to improve future advancement prospects.

  • Salary: $50,000 to $60,000 per year (ZipRecruiter, October 2023)
  • Certification: A variety of certifications may be used to become a supervisor. Some acceptable certifications include CPT, RPT, and donor phlebotomy technician (DPT)
  • Certifying organizations: Various organizations provide the certifications necessary to attain a supervisory role in the phlebotomy profession

Become a Donor Phlebotomy Technician (DPT)

A donor phlebotomy technician works in the field of blood donation. Typical duties include interaction with donor clients, such as monitoring blood flow, taking blood pressure, and performing venipuncture for blood collection as well as ensuring the acceptability of donated blood, and performing quality checks. This role requires repetitive reaching, standing, and fine motor function. DPTs may work in hospitals, blood banks, or donation centers such as the American Red Cross Association.

There is no customized educational program to train a person to become a DPT. Candidates need a high school diploma or GED to be accepted into a phlebotomy training program. They will usually also be required to provide documentation of their experience with donor collection before being considered eligible to apply for certification. Another acceptable training path is a fully accredited medical assisting program. Graduates of such a program are then considered qualified to fill several roles, including that of blood donor technician.

Donor phlebotomy technicians can expect to earn a substantially higher wage than a standard phlebotomy technician. After working in the field for five years a DPT can expect an average salary of $48,000.

  • Salary: $40,821 per year (, June 2023)
  • Certification: Donor Phlebotomy Technician (DPT-ASCP)
  • Certifying organization: American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP)

Become a Phlebotomy Instructor (CPI)

Experienced phlebotomists who are enthusiastic about the profession may seek to become instructors. The certified phlebotomy instructor (CPI) certification formally recognizes an instructor’s proficiency in teaching phlebotomy. Admission requirements for CPI training programs typically consist of some combination of education, work experience and teaching experience.

At a minimum, applicants must have a high school diploma or GED. Some programs require credit from college coursework. Work experience requirements may consist of a minimum amount of experience (measured by hours worked or calendar time) or an active status as an allied health professional. Finally, many programs will require at least one year of past phlebotomy teaching experience.

Phlebotomy instructors often teach in programs at two-year colleges and vocational schools. Classes offered in such settings are often offered at numerous times, including days, evenings, and weekends. Additional responsibilities include advising students, developing clinical placements, and adhering to phlebotomy education program policies.

As is true of other phlebotomist career tracks, individuals seeking instructor certification can do so through many training programs and various certifying organizations.

  • Salary: $44,191 (ZipRecruiter, October 2023)
  • Certification: Certified Phlebotomy Instructor (CPI)
  • Certifying organizations: National Phlebotomy Association (NPA), American Association of Phlebotomy Technicians (AAPT), American Certification Agency for Healthcare Professionals (ACA)

As mentioned above, phlebotomy professionals will be in demand within the coming decade. One of the advantages of this profession is the access it may offer to many future career paths. Because expertise in blood work and patient care are essential skills in healthcare, individuals with phlebotomy training can often pursue several different occupations, including, but not limited to, nursing, physician assistant, and laboratory research.

In addition, the relatively small time investment needed to become a phlebotomist makes it an easy and low-risk first step for those passionate about entering the healthcare profession who remain unsure what is the best long-term career path to pursue.

Bernd Geels
Bernd Geels Writer

Bernd Geels is a Berlin, Germany-based freelance writer and artist. He holds an undergraduate degree in atmospheric science and two graduate degrees. He completed his most recent graduate degree in international environmental studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in 2011. He is interested in healthcare, climate change, marine conservation, indigenous science, and refugee issues. You can reach him directly at [email protected].