A phlebotomist is a crucial part of the health system. Their role is to safely and quickly gather bloods in order to accurately diagnose an illness. The phlebotomist must have attention to detail and good interpersonal skills. This is a highly skilled and professional job that is vital for laboratory diagnosis.
Entry level requirements
A fundamental requirement of phlebotomy training is to have good personal communication skills. Phlebotomy is a care orientated profession and you will need to be able to deal with people who are often scared of needles, worried about the test and generally nervous. It is your job to put them at ease in order to safely carry out the blood draw.
You should also have an understanding of the fundamental sciences, biology, psychology and mathematics.
Although it is not technically essential to have A-levels or equivalent, it is a good idea to obtain these prior to training. Most places will expect you to have at least 2 GCSE certifications to start training programs. You also need to be at least 18 years old to enrol in any vocational training.
There are several paths into becoming a phlebotomist, you can:
- Complete a college course
- Partake in Training programs
- Gain Certification
- Apply directly
- Do an apprenticeship
- Work towards the role via other healthcare jobs
Becoming a phlebotomy trainee can be quite competitive, so you may find it advantageous to have a college qualification such as:
- A Level 2 Diploma in Healthcare Support Services
- A Level 2 Certificate in Health and Social Care
- A Level 3 Diploma in Healthcare Support
- T Level for Healthcare Science Assistants
When you take a level 2 or 3 course in health and social care you will normally participate in a work placement. This on the job training and experience can give you an advantage when it comes to getting a job afterwards.
Entry requirements for a college course are normally:
- 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent, for a level 2 course
- 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, for a level 3 course
- 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths for a T level
Although colleges do offer some phlebotomy training programs, these are usually quite limited. Today you can find independent organisations, such as here at Phlebotomy Training UK, that offer a lot more opportunities. Having completed one of the above degree courses along with specialised training will definitely give you a competitive edge when looking for work.
It is important to make sure that your training centre is an accredited one. Here at Phlebotomy Training we are fully licensed and accredited for all our training courses.
The training can be divided into one or two semesters or, four to eight month-long intense courses. The theory courses teach you about anatomy and physiology, but the most important part of any course is the practical side. Getting to do practical exercises and demonstrations on the intricacy of drawing blood in the most efficient, calm and friendly way is essential.
If you want to apply directly to an employer then you would be well advised to have a formal certification prior to application. Certificates are provided once you have successfully completed a formal exam. We provide opportunities for you to obtain several certifications and this will ensure that you are paid the correct amount when going for a job.
Again ensure that your centre has accredited certificates to establish membership in the Phlebotomy Association. As well as the technical credentials, you may also need to provide validated Immunological History to ensure safety protocols in critical care environments.
It is possible to apply directly to work as a phlebotomist. While there are no set requirements, some certification is recommended. Most employers will expect you to have a minimum of 2 GCSEs and a first aid certificate. Others will want you to have some formal qualification in healthcare or health and social care.
One way to get your foot on the ladder is to do an intermediate apprenticeship as a healthcare science assistant who specialises in phlebotomy. Another would be to complete an intermediate apprenticeship as a healthcare support worker and then apply for a trainee role in phlebotomy.
To complete an apprenticeship you will usually need to have a few GCSEs. These GCSEs, or equivalent, should include Maths and English. As an apprentice, you will earn as you train, work alongside experienced professionals and gain job specific skills. You do get up to 20% of your working hours that are dedicated to study. Training can take between 1 and 5 years when done this way.
As Phlebotomy is a practical profession, it is worth mentioning that placements are an essential part of your training. A phlebotomist can work in hospitals, diagnostic labs, care homes and research institutes among others. But the role itself doesn’t really change from one setting to another and all places will expect you to have hands on experience before being allowed to draw blood on patients.
With a placement, you will probably practice on non-patient volunteers while a senior phlebotomist supervises you. Once you have gained enough experience, you will begin supervised work with actual patients.
Work towards the role
You may start working in the healthcare profession as an assistant and work you way up through training and promotion to become a phlebotomist.
Another way to gain work experience is through volunteering. Employers will look for relevant experience so, any work you have done in a health or social care role counts.
A final note
In order to undertake training and start work as a phlebotomist you will need these skills:
- To have a caring and kind demeanour
- A willingness to be hands-on with patients
- Be comfortable working with needles and bodily fluids
- The skill to put patients at ease as they may feel anxious
- To be able to meticulously follow instructions and the procedures set out
- Be part of a team while using your own initiative
- Have good communication skills so that you can fully explain procedures to patients.
- Be a good listener
- Have good organisational and observational skills.