How Long Does It Take to Become a Phlebotomist? (Length of School & Training)

If you are thinking about getting into healthcare, you might be considering a career in phlebotomy. Phlebotomists help patients by collecting and sending blood samples to be tested in a laboratory. 

So, how long does it take to become a phlebotomist?

If you find a facility that offers on-the-job training, you can become a phlebotomist right away. However, most employers prefer to hire those who have gotten their phlebotomist certification which typically takes 4 to 8 weeks. Some in-person phlebotomy programs take a little longer, usually up to 12 weeks. 

This guide will go over different ways to get your phlebotomy certification, how long it takes to become certified, and everything else you need to know to get started working as a phlebotomist. 

Overview – How Long Does Phlebotomy School & Training Take

Before you can start training as a phlebotomist, you need your high school diploma or GED. After that, you can expect to spend several weeks to a few months training to get your phlebotomy certification.

Overall, it usually takes 4 to 12 weeks to become a certified phlebotomist.

School Type Length Leads To Cost
Online program 4 to 8 weeks Certificate $650 to $1300
Certificate from community college 6 to 12 weeks Certificate $600 to $2000
Associate degree in related field 2 years Certificate & Associate Degree $10,000 to $40,000

How Long Online Phlebotomy Training Programs Take

Length of time: 4 to 8 weeks

Online phlebotomy programs cover everything you need to know to become a phlebotomist without having to spend any time in a classroom. 

Some programs are completely self-paced, while others have scheduled video conference lecture hours. Most programs can be completed in 4 to 8 weeks and cost between $700 and $1,300.

Our Phlebotomy program here at Stepful, for example, takes only 4 weeks and costs just $759. We prepare you to take the NHA’s Certified Phlebotomy Technician exam and start working in just a month.

Most phlebotomy programs include lessons in basic anatomy and physiology, infection control, psychology, medical terminology, and of course techniques for drawing blood. 

After you complete your classroom learning online, you will need to practice blood draws on real people. Some online programs will send a phlebotomy draw kit for you to practice on volunteers from home, while others will help you get an externship set up to gain experience. 

All certifying organizations for phlebotomists require students to provide proof of successful blood draws before they can take their certification exam. 

How Long a Phlebotomist Certificate Program from a Community College Takes

Length of time: 12 to 16 weeks

Phlebotomy certificate programs from community colleges typically take one full semester to complete, somewhere between 12 and 16 weeks. Many colleges offer weekend, evening, or hybrid online programs to accommodate people with busy working schedules. 

Community colleges take a little longer than online programs but have the benefit of allowing you to practice specimen collection and venipunctures with an in-person instructor. 

Lessons covered in a community college program are the same as those covered in an online program and include anatomy and physiology, infection control, psychology, and specimen collection and handling. 

Community college courses are also slightly more expensive than online programs. They usually cost between $600 and $2,000, depending on the school you choose. 

How Long an Associate’s Degree from a Community College Takes

Length of time: 2 years 

There is actually no such thing as an associate's degree in phlebotomy. If you want an associate degree that includes a phlebotomy certificate, you can choose a related major that includes phlebotomy courses such as medical assisting or medical laboratory technology.

Associate degree programs typically take 2 years and can cost up to $40,000. If you want to start a career as a phlebotomist, it is much more cost-effective and efficient to complete a certificate program without a degree. 

While employers seeking to hire phlebotomists are more likely to hire candidates who are certified, having an associate degree is not expected or very helpful. 

How Long Does Each Step of Becoming a Phlebotomist Take?

If you already have a high school diploma and are self-motivated, you can become a phlebotomist in about 2 months. Here’s how long each step takes:

  1. Find a phlebotomy program (1 day). There are hundreds of phlebotomy training programs to choose from. Find one that is accredited and affordable, and you can usually sign up in less than an hour.
  2. Complete your coursework (4 to 12 weeks). This is the most time-consuming part of becoming a phlebotomist. If you are in a self-paced program, set aside time each day to work on your assignments to avoid procrastination and falling behind. 
  3. Practice blood draws (1 to 4 weeks). No matter what type of program you choose, you’ll have to spend some time practicing venipunctures and drawing blood from real patients. You can expect to spend 1 to 4 weeks practicing on volunteer patients or as part of an externship/internship. 
  4. Take your certification exam (2 weeks). When you finish your training program, you’ll need to submit proof of program completion and all other documents about 2 weeks before your scheduled test date depending on the certifying agency. Use this time to study and prepare for your exam. 
  5. Look for a job (6 weeks). Finding a job can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. You may be able to start looking for a job before you finish your training program by letting potential employers know that you plan to be certified by the time you start working. 

Do I Have to Complete a Phlebotomy Training Program or School to Work?

You may be able to get a job with no training or certification, but it depends on the state you live in. 

California, Colorado, Louisiana, and Nevada require all phlebotomists to pass a certification exam. While certification is not required in other states, most employers prefer to hire phlebotomists who have earned their phlebotomy certification

You may be able to find an organization that offers on-the-job training, but they are more likely to have a lower starting wage.

Getting your certification will make it easier to find a job as a phlebotomist no matter what state you live in and may help you earn more money. 

Is Phlebotomy School Worth It?

If you would like to start an entry-level career in healthcare and want to get to work right away, becoming a phlebotomist is an excellent choice. 

Phlebotomy school is pretty inexpensive and can be completed quickly. This is especially true if you choose an online program. You can compare the cheapest phlebotomy programs here.

Whether you live in a state that requires certification or not, completing a training program is well worth the time and upfront cost, considering many phlebotomy programs cost under $1,000.

Is Phlebotomy School Hard?

Phlebotomy school will include lessons in anatomy, physiology, psychology, and infection control. While these courses can sound complex, phlebotomy school usually only covers very basic information. 

Phlebotomy school is not especially difficult—it's actually considered one of the easiest jobs in healthcare. You will need good reading comprehension, some basic math skills, and good critical thinking in order to complete your schooling. The passing rate for the NCCT exam is about 73%. 

Our Phlebotomy Training Program graduates here at Stepful have a 90% certification rate.

The hardest part of phlebotomy school is learning to draw blood. Collecting blood samples from dehydrated patients or those with narrow veins can be a challenge. However, with practice and a good teacher, drawing blood is a skill anyone can learn. 

How Long Does the Phlebotomy Certification Process Take?

After you complete your training program, you’ll need to sign up for your certification exam. Most certifying organizations require you to submit your application at least 2 weeks before your scheduled exam. 

Before you submit your application and choose a test date, you need to make sure that you meet all eligibility requirements. Each phlebotomy certification has slightly different requirements. 

For example, the Phlebotomy Technician Certificate (PTC) from the American Society of Phlebotomy Technicians (ASPT) requires 50 successful venipunctures, while the Certified Phlebotomy Technician (CPT) from the American Certification Agency for Healthcare Professionals (ACA) requires 100. 

Getting help from teachers or career counselors in your training program can help you avoid forgetting necessary paperwork. 

Most phlebotomy certification exams take about 2 hours to complete. You will be able to see your results immediately after you complete your test, and official results are usually posted within 2 days of your exam. 

After you become a phlebotomist, you’ll need to keep your certification up to date. Recertification or renewal is usually required every 1 to 2 years. Most certifying agencies require you to pay a fee and complete 5 to 15 continuing education hours. 

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