NHS Careers > Explore by career > Wider healthcare team > Careers in the wider healthcare team > Clinical support staff > Phlebotomist


Phlebotomists are specialised clinical support workers/assistant healthcare scientists who collect blood from patients for examination in laboratories, the results of which, provide valuable information to diagnosing illness.

Phlebotomists are responsibile for taking blood without harming the patient or disturbing the nursing care they are receiving at the time. They also need to ensure the blood is taken correctly, as if specimens are harmed during collection, test results may be unobtainable or worthless. Once the blood is taken, phlebotomists are also responsible for transporting the specimen to the correct laboratory, as and when, required.

Many phlebotomists work part-time, and others may combine phlebotomy as part of their role as a clinical support worker/ assistant healthcare scientist.

Entry requirements

There are no specific minimum requirements to work in phlebotomy, although a good range of GCSEs would be an advantage.


Training will usually be entirely on the job and so securing a trainee phlebotomist position is recommended.

Please note that if you take a freestanding course in phlebotomy before applying for a job as a phlebotomist, there is no guarantee of a position with the NHS.

On the job training will include learning to take blood from different patient groups, including children and the elderly.

The aim of this programme is to provide the necessary theoretical and practical knowledge in phlebotomy. As a student you will undertake various objectives such as:

  • the role of phlebotomy within the pathology department
  • the importance of professional standards and codes of practice
  • the methods of blood collection
  • the aspects of blood taking and the requirements for different sample tubes and labelling protocols
  • anatomical and physiological considerations in choosing appropriate sites for venepuncture
  • the health and safety aspects of phlebotomy

After training, you may be awarded a certificate of competence, which will allow you to work without close supervision throughout the hospital. The certificate will also be beneficial if you want to work in another hospital.

Find out more about the training for healthcare science assistants and healthcare science associates

Job vacancies

Most NHS trusts advertise vacancies on the NHS Jobs website, for trainee phlebotomist positions, as well as for qualified phlebotomists. Vacancies are also advertised in the local press and job centres. Additionally, you can contact the human resources department officer or head biomedical scientist at a hospital where you would like to work.

As training is usually undertaken whilst you are working, you should aim to secure a post as a trainee phlebtomist and then undertake the training in phlebotomy.

Further information

For further general information about the work of phlebotomists, please contact:

*National Association of Phlebotomists
12 Coldbath Square
Tel: 0207 833 8784
Fax: 0208 363 7738
Email: phlebotomy@btinternet.com
Website: www.phlebotomy.org

*Institute of Biomedical Science
12 Coldbath Square
Tel: 020 7713 0214
Fax: 020 7436 4946
Email: mail@ibms.org
Website: www.ibms.org

(*NB Neither the National Association of Phlebotomists, nor the Institute of Biomedical Science, train phlebotomists and therefore cannot provide details of initial phlebotomy courses)