If needles and blood don't bother you, then a phlebotomist career may be for you. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), phlebotomists draw blood for transfusions, tests, research and donations. They also assist patients who may have a negative reaction to the procedure, assemble and maintain medical equipment, help keep patients calm and much more.
To become a phlebotomist, the BLS reports, typically requires a postsecondary non-degree award from a phlebotomy program. These programs are available at technical schools, community colleges and vocational schools, and they usually take less than a year to complete. Most employers also prefer a professional certification, which several organizations grant, and the following skills: compassion, dexterity, hand-eye coordination and to be detail-oriented.
If you're looking for an important, health-focused career that's both growing and sustainable, then it might be worth checking out one of the many good phlebotomy programs available in the U.S.
You can make a living as a phlebotomist. According to the BLS, phlebotomists in the United States as of May 2013 earned a mean annual wage of $31,410, with the lowest-paid 10 percent earning an annual wage of $21,760 and the highest-paid 10 percent earning an annual wage of $43,190.
Keep in mind that the industry in which you're employed as a phlebotomist can affect how much you earn. According to the BLS, the top-paying industries in the United States for phlebotomists as of May 2013 were:
- Insurance carriers: $42,650 annual mean wage
- Management of companies and enterprises: $36,680 annual mean wage
- Individual and family services: $36,620 annual mean wage
Location also affects how much money phlebotomists can potentially earn. The BLS reports that the top-paying American states for phlebotomists as of May 2013 were:
- Alaska: $40,200 annual mean wage
- California: $38,440 annual mean wage
- Delaware: $38,120 annual mean wage
More specifically, metropolitan areas have their own wage data. The top-paying American metropolitan areas for phlebotomists as of May 2013 were:
- Oakland-Fremont-Hayward, CA Metropolitan Division: $46,290 annual mean wage
- Vallejo-Fairfield, CA: $45,380 annual mean wage
- Stockton, CA: $44,510 annual mean wage
Job outlook for phlebotomists
The phlebotomist career has lots of growth in its future, according to both the BLS and state labor departments. The BLS projects that employment of phlebotomists in the United States is expected to grow by 27 percent between 2012 and 2022, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. That comes out to 27,100 new jobs.
"Blood analysis remains an essential function in medical laboratories and hospitals," the BLS reports. "Demand for phlebotomists will remain high as doctors and other health care professionals require blood work for analysis and diagnoses." Job prospects are expected to be best for those phlebotomists who receive certification from a reputable organization. There are several to choose from, including the National Center for Competency Testing, American Medical Technologists and the American Society for Clinical Pathology's Board of Certification.
Some hospitals and medical laboratories may evaluate their staffing needs and replace phlebotomists with "more skilled healthcare workers," the BLS reports, but that doesn't affect the projected employment growth nationally.
Looking at past data may give an idea where geographically the phlebotomist career may grow the most in America. According to the BLS, the American states with the highest employment level of phlebotomists as of May 2013 were:
The American metropolitan areas with the highest employment level of phlebotomists as of May 2013, according to the BLS, were:
- Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, CA Metropolitan Division
- New York-White Plains-Wayne, NY-NJ Metropolitan Division
- Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale, AZ
- Chicago-Joliet-Naperville, IL Metropolitan Division
- Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, GA
Certain states are also projected to have especially strong growth. Although state labor data doesn't call out this career specifically, the data for healthcare support workers, which includes phlebotomists, can give you a good idea of which regions might have the best job opportunities. The states with the highest projected growth through 2020 are:
- Idaho: 26.9% growth
- Minnesota: 24.9% growth
- Indiana: 23.1% growth
- Utah: 23% growth
- Texas: 22.3% growth
Wherever you go in America, if you choose to become a phlebotomist, you're potentially joining a career field that can help saves people's lives. No wonder it's growing.
Occupational Employment and Wages for Phlebotomists, Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2013,
Phlebotomists, "Occupational Outlook Handbook: 2014-15 Edition," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Jan. 8, 2014,
Long-Term Occupational Projections for Healthcare Support Workers, Projections Central,