Phlebotomists are basically health care professionals who have been trained to take blood from persons through venipuncture (the process of extracting blood from the veins), capillary punctures and other micro collection process. Also known phlebotomy technicians, they work in close association with physicians, nurses, medical assistants and other allied healthcare workers. Blood is usually collected from patients who are undergoing treatment, donors wanting to donate blood, blood collection for research purpose etc. A dedicated phlebotomist can reduce the work load of doctors and nurse s by performing the task of blood collection.

The main duties of a phlebotomist includes performing venipuncture, collecting blood from patients and donors in hospitals, healthcare centers an other collection points, using finger sticks to collect minute quantities of blood, using butterfly needle to collect blood from infants etc. Specialized phlebotomists also extract blood from arteries near the wrist.
A phlebotomist also carries out other clinical and administrative tasks in the laboratory.

In order to become a phlebotomist, one must first have a high school diploma. One must be fairly good in math, science and computers at the high school level to pursue a training program in phlebotomy. There are hundreds of phlebotomy degree program being offered by vocational schools, community colleges, career centers, universities and hospitals across the Unites States. Programs range from certificate and diploma to associate degree. It may take between nine moths to two years to complete the training program depending upon the course one chooses. Training includes class works and practical training. Study subjects include physiology, immunology, genetics, blood groups, blood collection techniques, computer programs, legal aspects of blood collection, specimen handling and labeling, universal and standards precautions, medical ethics etc. Then they must also undergo work experience (known as externship) under the guidance of trained personnel where they learn the methods of blood collection under different circumstances. The American Red Cross and The American Heart Association also offer clinics for training during the day time.

All the programs must be accredited by the American Society of Clinical Pathologists (ASCP), the American Medical Technologists (AMT), the American Association of Medical Personnel (AMP) and the National Accrediting Agency (NCA).Even though certification is not mandatory in many states, majority of the employers prefer those who are certified. Even after getting certified, phlebotomists must take continuing education to maintain their certification.

After certification, a phlebotomist can work in a hospital, physicians office, healthcare centre, private clinics and laboratories, surgical centers, blood and plasma donation centers, governmental medical facilities, U.S Armed Forces etc. The annual salary of a phlebotomist ranges between $30,000- $60,000 depending upon qualification, experience and job location. Through experience and further training one can reach higher positions. The demand for phlebotomist is expected to increase by more than twenty percent by the year 2014 according to the U.S Department of Labor.