How to Become a Phlebotomist in California


A Necessary Part of Medical Practice

Phlebotomists draw blood that is used for testing, research, or donations. They typically work full-time in hospitals, blood donation centers, and medical laboratories. However, their shifts may cover nights, weekends, and holidays, especially in round-the-clock facilities.


Unless he or she is a doctor, nurse, or clinical lab technician, anyone who draws blood in California must first receive phlebotomy certification. Requirements vary by previous experience and desired certification level but applicants generally need training, clinical practice, and passing an exam. As a prerequisite, they also need a minimum high-school diploma, GED, or equivalent.
Certification lasts two years. Renewal requires at least six hours of continuing education during the two years and paying a fee.

Limited Phlebotomy Technician

The Limited Phlebotomy Tech is the lowest certification level and legally authorizes only skin punctures for collecting blood. Applicants must then successfully complete at least 20 hours of basic classes at a training program approved by the state, such as at a technical school or community college.
They must also successfully complete 25 skin punctures on real patients in a clinical setting either on the job or as part of their training. A licensed MD, physician’s assistant, registered nurse, or clinical lab technician must sign a certificate or letter attesting to the skin punctures. No examination is needed but applicants must pay an application fee.

Certified Phlebotomy Technician 1

The CPT I certification legally allows all the duties of the Limited Phlebotomy Tech and venipuncture, which draws blood from a vein, typically inside the elbow or back of the hand.

  • If applicants have no experience, they must attend a state-approved training program with 20 hours of basic classes, 20 hours of advanced classes, 40 hours of practical training, as well as 50 successful venipunctures and 10 successful skin punctures on real patients.

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  • If they have less than 1040 hours of on-the-job experience within the past five years, applicants need to complete a program with 20 hours of basic classes and 20 hours of advanced classes. If they have more than 1040 hours of experience, they need only finish 20 hours of advanced classes.

After completing training, applicants then must successfully perform 50 venipunctures and 10 skin punctures on real patients, with documentation signed by lab directors. They must then pass a state-approved phlebotomy exam, apply for certification, and pay the application fee.

Certified Phlebotomy Technican 2

The CPT 2 certification legally allows all the duties of CPT 1 and arterial punctures. Applicants need a CPT 1 certification and at least 1040 hours of on-the-job experience within the past five years. They then need to complete 20 hours of advanced classes at a state approved program and at least 20 successful arterial punctures during training or on-the-job while supervised by a licensed MD, physician’s assistant, registered nurse, or clinical lab technician.

After completing training, applicants must successfully perform 50 venipunctures, 10 skin punctures, and 20 arterial punctures on real patients. The venipunctures and skin punctures must have signed documentation from a lab director. The arterial punctures require the signature of a licensed MD, physician’s assistant, registered nurse, or clinical lab technician.

Finally, applicants must pass a state-approved written phlebotomy exam, apply for certification, and pay the application fee.


The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) puts the average salary of phlebotomists in California at $38,440 per year, or $18.48 per hour. The lowest earning 10 percent make less than $27,460 annually, or $13.20 hourly. The best-paid 10 percent earn over $51,420 each year, or $24.72 an hour. Compare these wages to the average for the entire country, which runs $31,410 annually, or $15.10 hourly.
The California metropolitan area with the best average pay is Oakland-Fremont-Haryward at $46,290 per year, or $22.26 per hour, followed by Vallejo-Fairfiled at $45,380 annually, or $21.82 hourly, and Stockton at $44,510 a year, or $21.40 an hour.

Job Duties

The primary responsibility of phlebotomists is to draw blood from a patient, which is then tested or processed for future use. They must verify the identity of the donor, ensure proper storage of the blood, label the storage container correctly, and enter patient information in a computer database. They may also explain the procedure to a nervous patient to calm him or her down and minimize any fear of needles or blood. To avoid causing infections or the transmission of blood-borne diseases, phlebotomists must also keep their medical instruments, such as needles, as well as work areas sanitary and clean.


The job outlook for phlebotomists is excellent, according to the BLS. The government agency predicts 27 percent job growth from 2012 to 2022, which is more than the 23 percent projected for all miscellaneous healthcare support occupations, and much higher than the 11 percent expected for all occupations in all industries. Demand will be greatest at hospitals, diagnostic labs, and blood donor centers.