What Is Phlebotomy?
Phlebotomy is the process of performing blood draws in a healthcare setting. The samples phlebotomists collect may be used for lab testing, blood donation, or blood transfusion. These professionals typically work in medical offices, hospitals, or blood banks. Although, some travel to nursing homes, work sites, or between medical facilities.
Phlebotomy doesn’t require as much time and intensive medical training as physician or nursing careers. Instead, the process is comparable to becoming a medical assistant. Still, students must complete technical coursework in laboratory terminology, HIPAA and patient privacy, and anatomy. For certification, they must also complete in-person hours to gain experience with different types of blood draws, lab procedures, professionalism, and safety practices.
Learners interested in a medical career with strong projected growth, plentiful opportunities, and room for advancement may choose the phlebotomy path if they don’t want to spend years pursuing a degree. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 10% growth in the field from 2021-2031, as the demand for these professionals will continue to increase with an aging population.
Online Phlebotomy Programs
An online phlebotomy certificate program builds the skills and knowledge future phlebotomists need to succeed in their careers.
However, a phlebotomy technician certificate should not be confused with a phlebotomy certification. Certificate programs do not provide a professional certification like certification programs do. In contrast, they prepare learners for the medical field by teaching clinical and professional skills and getting them used to various healthcare settings.
An online phlebotomy certificate program usually takes 6-12 months to complete, but some may be as short as three months. Learners explore handling hazardous materials, patient safety and privacy, specimen processing, and various phlebotomy techniques.
Although programs deliver course content online, they usually require students to complete in-person labs or internships in order to gain tangible experience with blood draws and patient communications. These face-to-face segments comprise a significant credit portion of the curriculum and are required for phlebotomy students to sit for future certification exams.
Courses in an Online Certificate in Phlebotomy
Phlebotomy certificate programs include lecture courses and clinical requirements to give future professionals a well-rounded understanding of their responsibilities as healthcare workers. Courses are designed to introduce learners to the medical laboratory environment while giving them the vocabulary, techniques, and knowledge they need to become successful phlebotomists.
The following are a few of the most common courses in these certificate programs:
Phlebotomy students first learn the basics of anatomy and physiology to help them understand the functions of body mechanisms and how they work together. Learners study general anatomy and physiology, emphasizing the circulatory system and blood vessels. They also explore pathology and aging as it relates to bodily systems and their functions.
Laboratory methods courses teach students various techniques for drawing blood and managing blood specimens. They also explain the laboratory process after collecting specimens, including handling specimens, processing samples, and following safety measures. Learners may also be required to take a laboratory methods lab course, along with a lecture-focused course that puts these concepts into practice.
Future phlebotomists will learn common and complex medical terms that they’ll encounter in healthcare settings in this course. Throughout the course, students enhance their vocabulary by practicing spelling, defining, and using the words they learn. They may also learn common abbreviations for terms to help them decipher shorthand in a medical laboratory environment.
How Much Does an Online Certificate in Phlebotomy Cost?
Online certificate-only phlebotomist programs typically cost less than a degree because they require fewer credits. Most programs are 10-20 credits, with many schools charging between $200-$500 per credit for a total tuition of $2,000-$10,000.
Of course, some schools may charge out-of-state tuition for online learners, increasing their overall tuition costs. Online programs can also sometimes include technology and other online learning fees. Phlebotomy certificate students also need their own computer and internet service to access their courses and scrubs to complete their clinical hours.
Upon successfully completing the program, students may sit for a certification exam, which generally costs between $100-$170.
What Can You Do With a Phlebotomy Certificate?
Several healthcare specialists, like nurses, laboratory technicians, medical assistants, and emergency medical technicians, can benefit from adding a phlebotomy certificate to their resumes. The following are a few careers learners can pursue after completing a phlebotomy certificate program.
Annual Median Salary: $37,380
Job Outlook: 10%
Phlebotomists draw blood from patients for medical laboratory testing, blood donations, or blood transfusions. They typically work in medical facilities or blood donation centers. A phlebotomy certificate can prepare students for professional certification, which most employers require.
Annual Median Salary: $57,800
Job Outlook: 7%
After a phlebotomist draws blood, a clinical laboratory technician processes and studies the blood to report results according to requested medical tests. These professionals may also analyze other medical samples, such as tissue or urine. Pursuing a phlebotomy certificate allows technicians to collect blood samples, when necessary, in addition to analyzing them. Some technicians may need to also obtain licensure, depending on their state.
Annual Median Salary: $36,850
Job Outlook: 20%
Veterinary technicians work in veterinary clinics and hospitals to care for animals. They have multiple responsibilities, including monitoring and restraining animals during procedures, providing first aid, and performing laboratory tests. A phlebotomy certificate can build their blood draw and sample management skills while following the path toward a bachelor’s degree and certification.
Phlebotomy certifications differ from phlebotomy certificates. While certificates build skills and knowledge in phlebotomy and healthcare practices, certifications prove a candidate’s competency based on industry standards.
Several credentialing agencies offer phlebotomy certifications, including the following:
Requirements for each certification vary by agency. Generally, candidates need both educational and clinical experience before they can sit for a certification exam. Certified individuals typically need to renew their certification periodically with the certifying agency.
What To Look For in a Phlebotomy Program
Whether you’re interested in a medical assistant role or are on the pathway toward becoming a phlebotomy supervisor, there are a few key elements to look for in a quality phlebotomy program.
First, consider accreditation, which denotes schools and programs that meet the standards of certifying bodies. Often, accredited programs have highly trained faculty, in-depth curricula, and successful outcomes and resources for graduates. Certificate programs through accredited colleges may look better on your professional resume and your future college applications.
Also, search for programs that fit your scheduling needs. Online programs sometimes require you to attend virtual classes at specific times, which can be challenging for full-time workers. Others are self-paced, allowing students to complete coursework on their own schedules. Regardless of the format, online phlebotomy programs usually have in-person clinical components, so it’s a good idea to understand all requirements before applying.
Finally, consider how a program’s costs fit into your budget. Some certificate programs allow you to use financial aid, while others might offer payment plans or discounts for specific situations. Remember that schools in other states may charge out-of-state tuition for online learners, which can raise tuition costs.