A Quick Guide to Becoming a Phlebotomist in California
Within the complex world of health care, phlebotomy is in demand, including in California. A phlebotomist is a medical specialist whose expertise is drawing and collecting blood. The blood could be needed to diagnose illness, for substance testing or even for blood or plasma donation. A good phlebotomist can safely draw blood while minimizing pain and controlling infection risk. A phlebotomist with good communication skills can help make the process quick and easy for patients—even those who are afraid of blood or needles.
Requirements for Becoming a Phlebotomist in California
Phlebotomists in California benefit from strong training and licensing requirements. There are three grades of phlebotomists in the state. A Limited Phlebotomy Technician (LPT) is authorized to do skin puncture blood collection, while a Certified Phlebotomy Technician I (CPT I) can collect blood via skin puncture and venipuncture (from the vein). A Certified Phlebotomy Technician II (CPT II) collects blood via skin puncture, venipuncture and arterial puncture.
You don’t need a college degree to be a phlebotomist, but to get your license you’ll need to undertake some classroom training and some supervised on-the-job experience, overseen by skilled and experienced professionals. The amount of training and experience required varies with the grade of license you want to achieve.
Training Courses and Educational Programs in California
There are dozens of institutions in California where you can obtain the classroom learning and clinical experience needed to become a licensed phlebotomist. Options include:
- Phlebotomy Training Specialists has ten California locations. It offers 40 hours of classroom training and 40 hours of lab experience after you’ve had your exam, with over 125 externship partners across the state.
- U S Colleges of Health and Human Services offer day, evening and weekend classes in their Phlebotomy Technician program. The 16-week course includes 78 classroom and lab hours and 40 hours of externship to practice your skills, including the required skin and venipunctures needed to qualify for your CPT I license.
- Vallejo Regional Educational Center‘s phlebotomy program includes 70 hours of classroom and lab instruction and a 50-to 100-hour externship. You’ll also be given cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training.
These schools have branches in multiple California cities, and there are many other places where you can train to be a phlebotomist listed on the California Department of Public Health website.
Each phlebotomy grade has different requirements, but all grades require a high school diploma or a general equivalency diploma (GED). Training in California focuses on classroom education and on the job experience.
Certification and Licensing for Becoming a Phlebotomist in California
An LPT requires 20 hours of classroom teaching from a phlebotomy program accredited by the California Department of Public Health. You’ll also need to have performed 25 skin punctures that meet the requirements for examinations of patients in a clinical setting or the requirements for clinical sampling for laboratory tests.
A CPT I needs 40 accredited classroom hours, 40 clinical practice hours including 50 venipunctures, 10 skin punctures and observation of arterial punctures. Then you’ll need to pass a national certification examination administered by an approved examiner.
To progress to CPT II, an applicant needs to be a CPT I—or to have met the training and experience requirements for one—and to have 1040 hours of experience in a certified lab including having performed 20 arterial punctures. CPT II also requires passing an examination by an approved examiner.
For all grades, licenses must be renewed every two years, and you’ll need to pay a renewal fee and submit documentation of continuing education.
Career Outlook and Salary Expectations
Nationally, career growth for phlebotomists is strong at 23 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In California, the outlook is even higher, with the field projected to grow 26.7 percent by 2028.
Average salary for California phlebotomists is the highest in the country, with 2018 annual wages reported by BLS at $45,940 and an average entry-level wage at $33,030.
Working as a Phlebotomist in California
A broad variety of employers hire phlebotomists, such as hospitals, laboratories and doctor’s offices. In California, potential employers include Kaiser Permanente, Quest Diagnostics, Scripps Health and even Folsom State Prison. If you choose phlebotomy as a career you will benefit from an in-demand specialty and the satisfaction of helping to keep people healthy.