Phlebotomy, the professional field concerned with collecting blood from patients, is one of the most popular entry-level medical careers. Phlebotomists play an integral role in medicine by collecting samples, keeping accurate records and ensuring that the samples are properly delivered to laboratories. People in this field can go on to more advanced jobs in medicine or remain in their roles as phlebotomists over the course of their careers. Thanks to the high number of blood samples that are required for modern medical tests and the need for skilled professionals to collect blood donations, phlebotomy is also a stable job field with high prospects for future growth.
Becoming a phlebotomist requires a postsecondary certification earned by taking a series of courses and passing a certifying exam. Unlike more demanding introductory medical programs, phlebotomy programs don’t require a college background or entail a 2-year degree. Because there are no prerequisites other than a high school diploma or GED, phlebotomy is accessible to practically anyone looking to begin a career in medicine.
One of the best ways to become a phlebotomist is to enroll in an online training program. These programs offer similar training to in-person instruction, flexible scheduling and a cost that is within almost any student’s reach. Here’s your guide to the best online phlebotomy programs and what you should know about becoming a phlebotomist in 2021.
What Is an Online Phlebotomy Program?
Online phlebotomy programs prepare learners to work in the medical field by properly collecting and processing blood samples from patients. Phlebotomists learn to operate a wide range of modern blood collection instruments as well as techniques for collecting blood from patients with special medical requirements. The elderly and infants, for example, may require more specialized collection techniques or care after blood is collected. People suffering from certain chronic diseases may also require specialized care for blood to be drawn safely. Students in phlebotomy programs will be introduced to such special cases and instructed in how to handle them in practice.
These programs also teach basic laboratory procedures, record keeping, medical regulation compliance and a host of other skills that are essential to working in the medical field. As with most medical programs, students will learn communication skills to help them interact effectively with patients in a clinical setting. As a result, taking an online phlebotomy program is a good introduction to both the hard and soft skills required for a successful career in medicine.
Upon successful completion of the program and an accrediting exam, students earn certificates that allow them to work as phlebotomists. While there are a handful of states that have specific certification requirements, students can work in most states after passing their national certification exams. To remain current, phlebotomists must renew their certifications each year.
Breaking into the medical field as a phlebotomist can lead to a variety of different career paths. Phlebotomists frequently go onto careers as nurses, technologists or medical assistants. Phlebotomy can, however, also be a good starting point for more advanced medical careers. Some phlebotomists even choose to attend medical school and become doctors. While many career paths are available to those who complete a phlebotomy program, additional classes, certifications or degrees are required to move into more advanced jobs.
Why Choose an Online Phlebotomy Program?
One major advantage to pursuing an online phlebotomy program is that it is one of the easiest ways to break into the medical field. To enter one of these programs, students only need to have their high school diplomas or GEDs. It should also be noted that phlebotomy programs offer postsecondary certificates, rather than full degrees. As a result, becoming a working phlebotomist takes much less time than getting a job that requires a 2- or 4-year degree.
Students choose phlebotomy programs as a relatively fast, affordable way to increase their earnings and begin working in healthcare. For younger students who aren’t actively in college, becoming a phlebotomist is often a good early career option. Even for college students, though, a phlebotomy program offers some value. Pre-med students, for example, can get vital clinical experience by working part time as phlebotomists while continuing their studies. Likewise, students in nursing programs may choose phlebotomy as a way to establish a professional history and begin working with potential future employers.
Those best suited to a career in phlebotomy will have a combination of personal skills and an interest in science. Empathy and communication are key to successful patient interactions, and technical skills are required for sample collection and processing. Thanks to the widespread fear of having blood drawn, an ability to calm people and display relaxing confidence is quite helpful. If you have a combination of these skill sets, phlebotomy may be a good fit for you.
Although most phlebotomy training is quite affordable, there is still an advantage to taking online programs. Taking phlebotomy courses online offers a substantial cost savings, and the classes can be taken on a flexible schedule. Because the certificates for phlebotomists are valid on a nationwide basis, there’s also little advantage to location-specific training.
How Much Does a Phlebotomy Program Cost?
Phlebotomy programs are among the most affordable postsecondary educational programs. Some of the best online phlebotomy programs available charge as little as $300. Similar programs at community colleges and technical schools can cost $700 to $1,400, which still makes phlebotomy one of the most economically accessible careers that requires certification.
Although the programs themselves are quite affordable, there are other expenses associated with phlebotomy training that can raise the price somewhat. Hands-on training kits, textbooks, exam fees and other incidental expenses can add up to increase the total cost of phlebotomy training by up to a few hundred dollars. Even with these add-ons, an online phlebotomy program will cost less than most other forms of vocational training.
Aspiring phlebotomists should also be aware of the ongoing costs of maintaining their certificates. Recertification requires a certain number of continuing education credits. While continuing education courses are usually quite affordable, they do add to the cost of maintaining an active certification. Generally, you can expect to pay $50-75 per continuing education course. In many cases, you’ll be able to get an employer to reimburse you for continuing education classes. You can also take advantage of these classes to build up your knowledge base for future advancement into other medical jobs.
How Much Do Phlebotomists Make?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for phlebotomists in 2020 was around $36,300 per year as of May 2020. This equates to an hourly rate of $17.46 per hour. PayScale notes a slightly lower median hourly wage of $15.57, or about $32,400 per year. It should be noted that the PayScale data is more recent, coming from July 2021. Some compensation for phlebotomists, however, comes from outside the normal wage structure. According to PayScale, phlebotomists can receive up to $2,000 from bonuses and a similar amount from profit sharing each year.
PayScale also offers more complete data on the pay of phlebotomists as they gain experience on the job. Starting out, phlebotomists earn a median wage of $13.54. With 5-9 years of experience under their belts, this wage increases to $16.08. The most experienced phlebotomists earn $18.36 an hour, or about $38,200 a year. Because phlebotomy is usually a starting point for people interested in medical careers, though, relatively few phlebotomists maximize their pay through experience before deciding to advance their education and move up into more lucrative positions.
When considering how much phlebotomists are paid, it’s also important to take benefits into account. As professionals within the medical industry, many phlebotomists receive health and dental insurance at discounted rates through their companies. Company retirement plans are also a common part of the non-wage compensation for phlebotomists. For those who are using phlebotomy as an entry point for other medical careers, educational savings are also a possibility. Many healthcare companies offer tuition reimbursement for workers willing to sign extended contracts. Together, these benefits can add up to thousands of dollars in non-wage compensation each year.
What Is the Job Outlook for Phlebotomy Certificate Holders?
Those holding phlebotomy certificates can find work in blood donation centers, hospitals, doctor’s offices and medical labs. There are also ample travel opportunities for phlebotomists, both domestically and abroad. The work of a traveling phlebotomist can involve visiting medical facilities in rural areas to collect samples or servicing non-hospital facilities without on-site phlebotomists, such as nursing homes. On the international front, jobs exist with international relief organizations, charitable foundations and multi-national healthcare companies.
Over the next 10 years, the projected job growth for phlebotomists is 17 percent. This makes phlebotomy a faster-than-average growth field. By the end of the decade, an expected 22,800 jobs in this field will have been created.
Scholarships for Phlebotomy Programs
Because phlebotomy certificate programs aren’t traditional degree programs, there are fewer scholarship opportunities for students who enroll in them. There are, however, still some options available if you’re trying to save money on becoming a certified phlebotomist.
When looking for financial assistance for one of these programs, it’s important to keep in mind that there are many sources of aid that aren’t specific to phlebotomy. General medical scholarships and even general assistance programs can also be used to pay for your training. Here are some of the scholarships and grants you should look into when enrolling in an online phlebotomy program.
American Society for Clinical Pathology Lab Student Scholarship
A scholarship of $500 is available to students in accredited phlebotomy programs. This is one of the few phlebotomy-specific options.
Many technical schools and community colleges offer institutional scholarships or grants. If you qualify, you can use the money for a phlebotomy program.
If you’re obtaining a phlebotomy certification while also pursuing a larger degree program, you may be able to use federal Pell grants to pay for it.
State Vocational Grants
In certain states, you may be able to pay for your phlebotomy certification with a state vocational grant. These grants do not require repayment.
FAQs About Phlebotomy Certifications
- Programs available online, through technical schools and at community colleges
- Programs can be completed in as little as 4 months
- Certificates earned from online programs are valid in almost all states
- Online programs work well for flexible schedules
- Some programs offer more than one skill set, i.e., combined phlebotomy and EKG technician training
- Online phlebotomy programs are an inexpensive path for entering the medical field.
- Programs can be completed much faster than college degree programs.
- Phlebotomy can lead to more advanced medical careers with continued education
- Better-than-average job growth projections indicate good career stability.
- Non-wage benefits such as insurance and retirement plans are common for phlebotomists.
- Travel potential and widespread job opportunities make phlebotomy a good option for students looking for mobility.
- Program costs vary but rarely exceed $1,500.
- Programs can cost as little as $300.
- Textbook and additional material costs are fairly manageable.
- Even the best online phlebotomy programs cost around $700.
- Some grants and scholarships available.