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The Difference Between a Phlebotomist and Phlebotomy Technician

Phlebotomist drawing blood

Suppose you are interested in healthcare or have recently had your blood drawn. Maybe you have seen or heard both phrases and were curious about the distinction. You might wonder: what is the difference between a phlebotomist and a phlebotomy technician?

Surprisingly enough, there is actually no difference between a phlebotomist and a phlebotomy technician! Both are terms for the same certified healthcare professional – someone who draws blood for analysis. Confusing, right? 

What Does a Phlebotomist or Phlebotomy Technician Do?

A phlebotomist, or phlebotomy technician, is a specialized healthcare professional who collects blood samples from patients. Below is a breakdown of their responsibilities.

Phlebotomist Responsibilities
Patient Preparation Explain the procedure to the patientHelp the patient relax and feel calmIdentify the best vein or capillary for collectionGet the patient in the correct position for blood collection
Infection Control Wear proper personal protective equipmentMasks, gloves, eye protection, gownsSterilize equipmentPrevent sample contaminationPrevent the spread of germs 
Venipuncture What you probably think of when you hear “blood draw”Blood collection from a veinUses a needle, syringe, and collection tubes (vials)
Capillary Puncture Blood collection through smaller capillaries (fingertip)Common for blood glucose monitoring
Record Keeping Proper record-keeping, including accurately labeling the samples
Sample Handling Safely pack and transport samples to the lab for analysis
Communication Communicate with medical staff about patient collection needsCommunicate with the patient about the procedureSpecific instructions like fasting or pausing medicationsAnswer questionsCommunicate with the lab when you transport samples for testing
Lab Management Prepare samples for testingMaintain equipmentManage lab records

There are many settings where a phlebotomist might work, including:

  • Hospitals
  • Blood donation centers
  • Clinics
  • Physician’s offices
  • Medical laboratories

Some hospitals or clinics will distinguish between phlebotomists based on years of experience and training, creating a new title to tell the roles apart. In those settings, different “phlebotomist technician levels” might be allowed to perform other tasks or have additional duties. However, these phlebotomists will still all have the same education and training needed to be certified professionals in California. 

How Do I Become a Phlebotomist or Phlebotomy Technician in California?

The first step to becoming a phlebotomist is getting the best education in your field. Phlebotomy education focuses on learning the skills needed for safe blood collection. 

All certified phlebotomists in California must pass a certification exam, and having a great education from an accredited institute will set you up for success on this exam!

Educational requirements for California phlebotomy certification differ depending on your work background and experience. At a minimum, all phlebotomists will need:

  • 40 hours of basic and advanced classroom instruction
  • 40 hours of clinical training to perform at least
    • 50 venipunctures
    • 10 skin punctures
    • Arterial puncture observation (A CPT-II license is required to perform this blood draw)

The best programs will incorporate these requirements into structured classroom education, clinical training, and an externship to tie everything together. 

After you get your education and training, you will need to pass an exam for certification and apply for your license. The NCPT is a national exam for phlebotomists, and the CPT-I  is a specific license required to practice phlebotomy in California. After you pass your exam and have your CPT-I license, you will complete your phlebotomy education with an externship to gain valuable clinical practice and begin networking to find a job after graduation.

  • NCPT – National Certified Phlebotomy Technician (NCPT) exam through the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT). This is the most widely used exam for certifying phlebotomists in America. The NCPT exam is mostly multiple-choice questions covering everything you learned in your training and how to identify and correct problems in the field. 

Once you have completed your phlebotomy training at an institute accredited by the California Department of Public Health and passed the NCPT exam, you can apply for your CPT-I license.

  • CPT-I – Certified Phlebotomy Technician I is a license provided by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). This license is required to work as a phlebotomist in the state of California. Unlike the NCPT, it is not valid to use when outside the state of California.

The best way to prepare for a career in phlebotomy is to get your CPT-I license. To do that, you need to pass the NCPT exam and complete thorough training at a reputable phlebotomy training program. The BAMA Institute is the premier training institute for phlebotomists in California. BAMA Institute has a comprehensive program to help you learn the skills and techniques necessary to become a certified phlebotomist.

Are You Ready to Explore a Career in Phlebotomy? Now that you know there isn’t a difference between a phlebotomist and a phlebotomy technician, Reach out to the BAMA Institute to learn more about becoming one.

Accreditation and Certifications

California Department of Public Health
Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education

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