By Sarah Jividen, RN, BSN
If you’re looking for a rewarding healthcare career that has little schooling, you may be considering becoming a phlebotomist. Payscale reports that phlebotomists are highly satisfied with their jobs and it’s also an excellent entry-point into other healthcare careers like nursing or becoming a physician assistant.
While you’re considering this career path, you’re likely wondering “how much does a phlebotomist make?” The answer to that depends on a lot of factors. Read on to learn how much you can make as a phlebotomist and what factors will impact your phlebotomy salary.
To learn more about if a phlebotomist career is right for you, check out our How to Become a Phlebotomist guide.
Part One What is a Phlebotomist?
A phlebotomist is a medical professional who specializes in drawing blood, also known as venipuncture. Blood sample collection is done for many medical reasons such as clinical lab analysis, determining a medical diagnosis, ensuring a medication’s effectiveness, or managing other health conditions.
You will find phlebotomists working in various clinical settings, including hospitals, outpatient clinics, clinical laboratories, nursing homes, doctor’s offices, community health centers, blood banks, or other healthcare facilities needing blood collection.
Part Two What Does a Phlebotomist Do?
In order to be a successful phlebotomist, these are the skills you'll need to master:
- Have an excellent bedside manner. Patients are often nervous when they have their blood drawn, so clear, calm communication is critical.
- Learn proper collection techniques by disinfecting the area with alcohol, using a tourniquet, locating a vein via site and touch, and inserting a needle with precision.
- Prevent safety hazards by following sanitation and infection control protocols.
- Ensure those blood specimens are contamination-free to prevent inaccurate results.
- Label all blood vials properly with correct patient information.
- Ensure that specimens are appropriately stored and promptly transferred to the correct location for analysis.
Part Three What is the Average Phlebotomist Salary?
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, phlebotomists in the US earned a national average salary of $36,320 per year or $17.46 per hour as of May 2020.
Career projection for phlebotomists is also very positive, with the BLS projecting a 17% growth in the profession between 2019-2029. There will be a need for an additional 22,800 phlebotomists during that time frame.
Part Four Phlebotomist Salary Factors
How much a phlebotomist can make depends on a number of factors including how much experience you have, where you work, and your geographic location.
Years of Experience
According to Payscale, the hourly wage for phlebotomists ranges from $11.78 per hour to $19.95 per hour, with a median hourly rate of $15.31.
The number one factor for phlebotomists earning higher wages is their level of experience. Entry-level phlebotomists with 1-4 years of experience can expect to earn around $14.05 per hour according to Payscale, while those with 20+ years of experience earn on average $17.95 per hour.
- 1-4 years of experience - $14.05 per hour
- 5-9 years of experience - $15.65 per hour
- 10-19 years of experience - $16.93 per hour
- 20+ years of experience - $17.95 per hour
Type of Workplace
Another important salary factor to consider is the type of business you work for as a phlebotomist. According to the BLS, the 2020 median pay varied depending on your specific work location.
Here was the 2020 BLS median pay for phlebotomists based on work location:
- Outpatient care centers: $42,310 annual
- Medical and diagnostic laboratories: $38,170 annual
- Physician offices: $35,530 annual
- Hospitals: $34,880 annual
- Other ambulatory centers: $34,790 annual
Part Five Phlebotomist Salaries by Location
Where you live as a phlebotomist is also important in determining what your income will be.
Highest Paying States for Phlebotomists
According to the BLS, the states where you can earn the most money as a phlebotomist are:
- California - $22.71 per hour, $47,230 annually
- New York - $21.46 per hour, $44,630 annually
- District of Columbia - $21.13 per hour, $43,960 annually
- Alaska - $20.80 per hour, $43,270 annually
- Washington - $20.45 per hour, $42,530 annually
Phlebotomist Salary by State
|State||Hourly Wage (Mean)||Annual Salary (Mean)|
|District of Columbia||$21.13||$43,960|
Highest Paying Cities for Phlebotomists
According to the BLS, the cities where you can earn the most as a phlebotomist are:
- Redding, CA - $25.37 per hour, $52,770 annually
- San Diego-Carlsbad, CA - $24.96 per hour, $51,920 annually
- Santa Rosa, CA - $24.82 per hour, $51,620 annually
- Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA - $24.56 per hour, $51,070 annually
- San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA - $24.38 per hour, $50,710 annually
Part Six Ways to Increase Your Salary as a Phlebotomist
Becoming certified as a phlebotomist is required in some states before you are allowed to practice. However, not all states require certification, so it is essential to understand the requirements where you live.
One of the easiest ways to raise your hourly rate in these areas (as well as prove your professional knowledge) is to become a certified phlebotomy technician.
There are several certification agencies where you can earn and maintain certification. The requirements, testing, and cost varies for each agency. Here are the most commonly used certification agencies for phlebotomists:
- American Certification Agency For Healthcare Professionals (ACA)
- American Medical Certification Association (AMCA)
- American Medical Technologists (AMT)
- The American Society For Clinical Pathology (ASCP)
- The National Center For Competency Testing (NCCT)
Further Your Education
The education to become a phlebotomist requires a diploma or certificate program. It takes about two semesters, or 4-9 months, which is relatively fast compared to most direct patient care professions.
But working as a phlebotomist gives you a bird’s eye view into several other interesting medical careers that require more education - and may even double your income. For example, many phlebotomists work closely with nurses and ancillary staff who are earning a significantly higher salary and have increased responsibility.
You may want to consider advancing your education in another healthcare field while you work as a phlebotomist. That way, when you graduate, you will already have a foot in the door to work in the same healthcare facility where you are already employed.
Become a Phlebotomy Trainer
Some medical facilities will offer an increase in your hourly wage while you take on the extra responsibility of training a new graduate or new hire. Not only does it show your administrators how valuable you are and increase your income, but it also gives you an edge if you are looking to be promoted into a management position eventually.
Be Promoted to Manager or Supervisor
If you work hard to master your skills as a phlebotomist, become certified, and eventually gain on-the-job experience, you might want to consider training for a management position. Becoming a phlebotomy supervisor will give you additional responsibility. However, it also offers a higher hourly wage to match.
Per-diem is Latin for working “by the day.” Per diem employees are valuable because they help fill staffing needs daily. An employer needs a certain amount of phlebotomists to manage patient care every day, and when they don’t have enough staff, per diem employees can help come in and save the day.
One of the perks for being flexible with your schedule is that you earn a higher per hour wage than a career phlebotomist with a set schedule. As a result, some per diem phlebotomists choose to work between two facilities to help fill staffing needs while making more money. You can even work as mobile phlebotomist! Traveling to different medical facilities when they have an increased need.
As you saw above in the section on phlebotomy salaries by cities and states, where you live can have a big impact on how much you can earn as a phlebotomist. What you need to keep in mind, however, is the cost of living in these areas as well! You may pull in a higher salary in Los Angeles for example, but the increased living expenses may not make it worth your while.
Part Seven How to Decide if Becoming a Phlebotomist is Right for You
If you don’t mind the sight of blood and the thought of working on a team of life-saving medical professionals excites you, a career in phlebotomy might be an excellent choice for you.
But when considering any profession, it is essential to do your homework and understand your earning potential. Factors such as location, type of workplace, experience, certification, and your desire for promotion can affect how much you can earn in the profession.
But most of all, consistency and hard work are essential. Over time your experience can put you in the top 10% of phlebotomist earners and offer a rewarding, life-long career.