Phlebotomists are health care professionals who work in hospitals, blood banks and other diagnostic health care facilities, where they draw blood from patients. The blood is used for medical analysis or blood donations. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a federal agency that provides salary data, classifies phlebotomists under the of medical and clinical laboratory technician category. According to the BLS, there were 155,600 medical and clinical laboratory technicians employed in the U.S. as of May 2008.
The primary duty of a phlebotomist is to draw blood. They use equipment like needles, tourniquets, disposable containers, gauze and alcohol to fulfil their responsibilities. Usually blood is withdrawn from a vein in a person’s arm, although it is sometimes necessary to use other blood collection procedures to get the job done. Phlebotomists label and transport the blood after it is withdrawn. Some phlebotomists also perform diagnostic tests on the blood and must help interpret the results.
Certification and licensure requirements for phlebotomists vary by state. Nearly all phlebotomists hold at least a professional certificate in the field, although many hold an associate or bachelor degree. Most programs include both a classroom and clinical component. Generally, state licensing boards require that phlebotomists train under the supervision of another diagnostic technician before awarding them licensure. Phlebotomists must also possess strong communication and people skills, which they may need to calm and comfort nervous patients and blood donors.
Phlebotomists work in hospitals, private physicians’ offices and blood banks. Most work 40 hours a week, although there are part-time phlebotomy positions available. Blood drives are often held on weekends or during the evening, meaning that phlebotomists must occasionally work irregular hours.
Employment of medical and clinical laboratory technicians is projected to grow at a rate of 16 per cent during the period 2008-2018, according to the BLS. This rate is faster than the national average for all occupations. Growth will be driven by an increase in population and the availability of new types of blood tests to diagnose medical conditions. By 2018, there will be 25,000 more medical and clinical laboratory technicians than there were a decade prior.
According to the BLS, the average annual wage for a phlebotomist as of May 2008 was £24,147, which works out to £11.60 per hour. The median annual earnings were £22,997, while the middle 50 per cent brought home between £18,473 and £28,801 annually. The lowest-paid 10 per cent of phlebotomists in the United States recorded average annual incomes below £15,262, while the highest-paid tenth made more than £34,788. Again, the BLS data is not specific to phlebotomists, but rather incorporates all medical and clinical laboratory technicians.
After a few years on the job, the hourly wage of a phlebotomist increases, according to a March 2010 salary survey by Payscale.com. According to the report, phlebotomists with between one and four years of work experience can expect to earn between £6.30 and £8.10 per hour. That wage range goes up to £7.50 through £9.70 for phlebotomists with between five and nine years of work experience. Phlebotomists with more than 20 years of work experience make between £8.70 and £11.10, according to the report.