California Occupational Guides

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Detailed Guide for

Phlebotomists in California

May also be called: Certified Phlebotomy Technicians; Donor Phlebotomy Technicians; Limited Phlebotomy Technicians

What Would I Do?

Phlebotomists collect blood samples and units for laboratory tests, transfusions, donations, or research.

Human health depends to a large degree on the precision and professionalism of Phlebotomists. Physicians diagnose major medical conditions based upon blood samples, including many kinds of cancer, diabetes, thyroid disease, allergies, and pregnancy. In addition, donated blood and platelets collected at blood centers account for thousands of lives saved every year in California. It is the Phlebotomist who must safely collect blood samples, identify them accurately, and preserve them properly until needed for testing or transfusion.

There are three ways to collect blood:

  • Venipuncture is the most common means of collecting a blood specimen. It involves placing a needle in a vein, typically at the bend of the arm or back of the hand.
  • Skin punctures involve piercing skin tissue that will bleed to collect a small amount of blood for minimal testing. An example of a skin puncture would be a finger prick.
  • Arterial blood gas puncture (commonly referred to as an ABG) involves drawing blood from an artery, typically in the wrist. This kind of draw is rare, and as a rule done on patients who have a respiratory condition.

Phlebotomists who work in medical clinics and hospitals are called Certified Phlebotomy Technicians (CPTs) and generally collect blood samples based on a physician’s order. The blood specimen, once taken, is then sent for diagnostic testing in a laboratory.

Phlebotomists who work for blood centers or blood banks are sometimes called Donor Phlebotomy Technicians. They can work at one location, or may be a member of a traveling team holding blood drives at schools, businesses, and community organizations.

In addition to the technical part of the job, Phlebotomists must be aware of the patient’s well-being before, during, and immediately following the blood collection. Their work requires explaining each procedure to patients and donors, as well as communicating with other staff and laboratory personnel.

Tools and Technology

Phlebotomists use a variety of tools in the course of their work. These include syringes, centrifuges, and blood analysis machines such as cuvettes, scales, vials, blood pressure monitors, and disinfectants. They may use computer recordkeeping programs and calendars to update patient and donor information.

Important Tasks and Related Skills

The tasks in the table below are common to Phlebotomists. Some duties require a higher level of certification to be performed in California. Each task below is matched to a sample skill required to carry out the task.

View the skill definitions
TaskSkill Used in this Task
Match laboratory requisition forms to specimen tubes.Perceptual Speed
Dispose of contaminated sharps, in accordance with applicable laws, standards, and policies.Problem Sensitivity
Draw blood from veins by vacuum tube, syringe, or butterfly venipuncture methods.Near Vision
Dispose of blood or other biohazard fluids or tissue, in accordance with applicable laws, standards, or policies.Public Safety and Security
Draw blood from capillaries by dermal puncture, such as heel or finger stick methods.Arm-Hand Steadiness
Enter patient, specimen, insurance, or billing information into computer.Active Listening
Organize or clean blood-drawing trays, ensuring that all instruments are sterile and all needles, syringes, or related items are of first-time use.Information Ordering
Collect fluid or tissue samples, using appropriate collection procedures.Critical Thinking
Collect specimens at specific time intervals for tests, such as those assessing therapeutic drug levels.Service Orientation
Source: U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Information Network (O*NET)

Working Conditions

Working conditions vary with the size and type of employment setting. Medical centers, hospitals, and blood centers are generally well lighted, temperature-controlled, and clean. Proper methods of needle disposal, infection control, and "universal precautions" are necessary to avoid occupational hazards. Workers must wear gloves and change them between patients or donors. Occasionally, they need to wear gowns when working in a controlled environment.

Phlebotomists may spend a great deal of time on their feet, especially those in blood centers. Those working for hospitals and medical centers generally work a 40-hour week. Some blood centers have limited hours and employ Phlebotomists on a part-time basis.

Some Phlebotomists belong to unions such as the Service Employees International Union.

Will This Job Fit Me?

The job of Phlebotomist will appeal to those who enjoy communicating with and assisting others. Those who are caring and kind, and who are good at recognizing problems and remembering details, might like this type of work.

What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?

Wages

The median wage in 2020 for Phlebotomists in California is $45,982 annually, or $22.11 hourly. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.

Change to Hourly Wages
Annual Wages for 2020Low
(25th percentile)
Median
(50th percentile)
High
(75th percentile)
California$38,566$45,982$54,995
Source: EDD/LMID Occupational Employment Statistics Survey, 2020 Wages do not reflect self-employment.
View Wages for All Areas

Benefits

Employers may provide health and life insurance, sick leave, vacation, and retirement plans.

What is the Job Outlook?

Demand for Phlebotomists will remain high as doctors and other healthcare professionals require blood work for analysis and diagnoses. In addition, the need for these workers is expected to increase over the next decade due to the rapidly growing older population and the resulting demand for testing that requires blood specimens.

Employment opportunities for Phlebotomists are expected to be comparable to the demand for skilled laboratory personnel. Overall, the need for these workers is expected to increase over the next decade due to the rapidly growing older population and the resulting demand for testing that requires blood specimens.

According to California’s Department of Public Health, there are approximately 50,000 workers who hold active Phlebotomy certificates.

Projections of Employment

In California, the number of Phlebotomists is expected to grow much faster than average growth rate for all occupations. Jobs for Phlebotomists are expected to increase by 28.7 percent, or 3,700 jobs between 2016 and 2026.

Estimated Employment and Projected Growth
Phlebotomists
Geographic Area
(Estimated Year-Projected Year)
Estimated
Employment
Projected
Employment
Numeric
Change
Percent
Change
Job
Openings
California
(2016-2026)
12,90016,6003,70028.718,600
Source: EDD/LMID Projections of Employment by Occupation
View Projected Growth for All Areas

How Do I Qualify?

Education, Training, and Other Requirements

The minimum education requirement to enter a training program is a high school or general equivalency diploma, or proof of higher education in lieu of high school graduation. Students must also be at least 18 years old.

Phlebotomists who work in hospitals, medical centers, or laboratories must first complete a state-approved training program and serve a minimum of 40 hours of phlebotomy practice to qualify for the certification exam in California. Training programs generally take 3-6 months and cover basic hematology, venipuncture techniques, appropriate site selection, routine processing, safety, and infection control procedures. The 40 hours phlebotomy practice includes at least 50 venipunctures and ten skin punctures.

Phlebotomists who work for licensed blood centers or banks can be trained in house by their employer, although the blood center must meet all state, federal, and organizational training requirements. Blood center Phlebotomists are sometimes called donor phlebotomy technicians and their work is limited to working at blood banks, drawing blood through skin or venipuncture methods.

Early Career Planning

High school students interested in becoming a Phlebotomist will benefit from taking courses in English, biology, and health. There are California Regional Occupational Programs (ROPs) available for this occupation. To find an ROP program near you, go to the California Association of Regional Occupational Centers and Programs Web site.

Continuing Education

Phlebotomists must keep their skills current over the years, as well as update their knowledge of current health and safety regulations. To renew certification, which is required every two years, they must take six hours of continuing education approved by the Laboratory Field Services division of California’s Department of Public Health.

Certification

California’s Department of Public Health (CDPH) requires any Phlebotomist who draws blood for laboratory and medical testing to obtain certification by passing an exam given by a state-approved organization.

There are currently three levels of state certification:

  • Limited Phlebotomy Technician – Authorized to perform skin puncture blood collection only.
  • Certified Phlebotomy Technician I – Authorized to perform venipuncture and skin punctures.
  • Certified Phlebotomy Technician II – Authorized to perform venipuncture, arterial puncture, and skin punctures.
Phlebotomists who work in licensed blood centers do not need to be state certified as long as their work is limited to drawing blood from donors through skin or venipuncture methods. They are sometimes called donor phlebotomy technicians in these establishments. They can be trained in house by the blood center, and must meet the training requirements established by the medical director. Some blood centers require their donor phlebotomy technicians be state certified, and some workers voluntarily gain certification to better achieve recognition and demonstrate competence.

To see a list of the currently approved certifying agencies, go to http://www.cdph.ca.gov/programs/lfs/Documents/PhleboCertExamsApproved08Feb05A.pdf.

To obtain certification, applicants must submit an application, pay the appropriate fees, and pass the certifying organization’s examination. Certificates are valid for two years.

For more information, go to the U.S. Department of Labor's Career InfoNet Web site and scroll down to "Career Tools." Click on "Certification Finder" and follow the instructions to locate certification programs.

Where Can I Find Training?

There are two ways to search for training information:

Contact the schools you are interested in to learn about the classes available, tuition and fees, and any prerequisite course work.

Where Would I Work?

Phlebotomists work in hospitals, medical centers, outpatient clinics, blood banks, or medical laboratories. Some work for insurance companies or for a mobile phlebotomist company that administers exams for insurers. The largest industries employing Phlebotomists are as follows:

Industry TitlePercent of Total Employment for Occupation in California
Medical and Diagnostic Laboratories36.2%
General Medical and Surgical Hospitals33.8%
Other Ambulatory Health Care Services10.4%
Offices of Physicians5.8%
Outpatient Care Centers5.7%
Source: EDD/LMID Staffing Patterns

Finding a Job

Direct application to employers remains one of the most effective job search methods. Hospitals advertise openings in newspaper classified ads, Internet job listings, and some also recruit through private employment agencies. Job seekers can apply directly to hospital or blood center personnel departments throughout California.  Online job opening systems include JobCentral at www.jobcentral.com and CalJOBSSM at www.caljobs.ca.gov.

To find your nearest One-Stop Career Center, go to Service Locator. View the helpful job search tips for more resources. (requires Adobe Reader).

Yellow Page Headings

You can focus your local job search by checking employers listed online or in your local telephone directory. Below are some suggested headings where you might find employers of Phlebotomists.

  • Blood Banks
  • Clinics
  • Hospitals
  • Medical Centers

Find Possible Employers

To locate a list of employers in your area, go to "Find Employers" on the Labor Market Information Web site:

  • Select one of the top industries that employ the occupation. This will give you a list of employers in that industry in your area.
  • Click on "View Filter Selections" to limit your list to specific cities or employer size.
  • Click on an employer for the street address, telephone number, size of business, Web site, etc.
  • Contact the employer for possible employment.

Where Could This Job Lead?

With experience, Phlebotomists can move into supervisory roles. Advancement to related occupations such as medical assistant requires taking additional education and state licensure. The field is sometimes considered a good starting point for people to decide if they would like to continue in the medical field and pursue training as a medical assistant or nursing career.

Related Occupations

Below is a list of occupations related to Phlebotomists with links to more information.

OccupationOccupational
Guide
Industry
Report
Occupational
Profile
Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational NursesGuide
Medical and Clinical Laboratory TechniciansGuide
Medical AssistantsGuide
Veterinary Technologists and TechniciansGuide

Other Sources

  • California Department of Public Health, Laboratory Field Services
         www.cdph.ca.gov
  • American Association of Blood Banks
         www.aabb.org

These links are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement by EDD.

For the Career Professional

The following codes are provided to assist counselors, job placement workers, or other career professionals.

SystemCode
SOC - Standard Occupational Classification31-9097
O*NET - Occupational Information Network
   Phlebotomists31-9097.00
   Interest Codes (RIASEC)CRI