How to Become a Phlebotomist in Alabama

Would you like to become part of the healthcare industry and play a role in diagnosing and treating patients while also performing laboratory procedures? If so, becoming a phlebotomist might be the perfect fit for you. Learn all you need to know to become a phlebotomist in Alabama, including requirements, education and career outlook.

Phlebotomist Requirements

To become a phlebotomist in Alabama, you must complete a phlebotomy training program. Students interested in pursuing this career can enroll in a two-year associate degree program or a short-term certificate program at a technical school or community college. Certificate programs, which usually are completed in less than a year, are the programs most chosen by aspiring phlebotomists.

Students take courses like legal issues, anatomy and physiology, medical ethics, lab safely, venipuncture and urinalysis. The training usually consists of lectures and hands-on training in a hospital or other clinical setting where the student can gain experience performing the venipuncture procedures. Phlebotomists must be 18 years old.

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Is Any Prior Education or Training Required?

The only real prior education required to enter a phlebotomy program is a high school diploma or GED. Some programs may require that students pass a criminal background check and drug screening prior to performing the clinical portion of the training. Applicants may also be required to have CPR certification and provide proof of health and liability insurance. Each school may have different admission requirements or prerequisites.

Are Phlebotomists Required to be Certified in Alabama?

There are only three states where phlebotomists must be licensed and Alabama is not one of them. Certification is not a state or legal requirement in Alabama, but most employers prefer to hire phlebotomists who have obtained certification. Many phlebotomists choose to obtain voluntary certification to improve their employment options and earning potential.

How Can a Phlebotomist Become Certified?

Certification can be obtained through organizations such as the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT), the American Medical Technologists (AMT), the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) and the National Phlebotomy Association (NPA). To be eligible for certification, the candidate must meet certain education and work requirements and must pass a certification exam. The requirements vary by organization.

The AMT, for instance, requires that the individual complete a training program, complete at least 1,040 hours working as a phlebotomist and pass the certification exam. The NCCT offers candidates several different paths towards certification, and these paths may be work, completed training or being a student in an accredited program, among others.

Is Continuing Education Required?

Continuing education (CE) is generally not required to be a phlebotomist, but it is required to maintain certification. The amount of continuing education required may vary by organization. For instance, the National Phlebotomy Association requires 1.8 hours of CE per year whereas the NCCT requires a certain number of CE hours based on the number of certifications the phlebotomist has earned.

Salaries for Phlebotomists in Alabama

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that phlebotomists earned an annual average wage of $30,150 as of May 2013 while those in the lowest ten percent earned $21,760 and those in the top ninety percent earned $43,190. Salaries vary throughout the state depending on the city.

According to a September 2014 report, phlebotomists in Tuscaloosa earned $25,951 while those in Birmingham and Huntsville earned $28,922 and $30,125, respectively. Other factors that may affect a phlebotomist’s earning potential include place of employment, geographic location, years of experience and number of certifications.

What Job Duties Does a Phlebotomist Have?

Phlebotomists typically work in labs at clinics and hospitals. In fact, the phlebotomist may be the only person patients see when they come for lab tests. Although a phlebotomist’s job duties may vary by employer, here are some of the various tasks this medical professional may have in the course of a work day.

• Enter patient information into hospital database
• Preparing specimens, such as blood, urine or fecal matter, for laboratory testing
• Preparing slides and stains
• Clean and sterilize lab equipment
• Verify patient identification
• Assemble needles, vials, test tubes and other required medical instruments
• Perform venipuncture procedures
• Process and label specimens
• Ensure safe delivery of specimens to appropriate departments
• Observe safety requirements
• Monitor and document vital signs

What Tasks is a Phlebotomist Legally Allowed to Perform?

A phlebotomist can perform venipuncture and urinalysis on a patient. Venipuncture is the process of drawing blood or other fluids for the purpose of medical testing. While the phlebotomist can do all the tasks listed above, the phlebotomist cannot do IVs unless he or she has completed an IV training program and/or has IV certification.

In addition, while phlebotomists must may perform the procedures and take the samples to the lab, they do not perform the actual tests on the samples. The lab technologists perform the lab tests.