Medical Lab Assistant vs Phlebotomist What’s the Difference | MedCerts

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So you’re all ready for a rewarding and lucrative career in healthcare. But if you’re debating whether to train as a medical lab assistant or go into phlebotomist work, keep reading to learn the difference between these equally important roles!.

The healthcare industry is one of the fastest-growing career paths in the United States, due in part to the aging Baby Boomer generation and the many advancements in technology that help people stay healthier as they age. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a projected 16% growth in new healthcare jobs from 2020 to 2030.

One of these new jobs could be yours with the right training, experience, and credentials. When you’re just starting, the best path to take to maximize your opportunities in this expanding field can be complicated.

Here, we’ll explain a little more about what it means to be a medical lab assistant and what it means to be a phlebotomist. Both are excellent entry-level professions that can get your career in healthcare started fast.

What is a Medical Lab Assistant?

Let’s start with the simple question: What is a medical lab assistant (MLA)? A medical lab assistant is a healthcare professional who works directly with patients. They are tasked with:

  • Collecting blood

  • Collecting tissues

  • Collecting any additional samples requested by the doctor

  • Preparing these samples for testing and analysis

MLAs typically work in inpatient or outpatient medical facilities as hands-on help, although sometimes they will work in private or public laboratories or research facilities. They may be working during sensitive times, accompanying patients through complicated processes and procedures. This will require excellent interpersonal skills, a strong stomach, and the ability to work as part of a team.

What is a Phlebotomist?

Now you may wonder, “What is a phlebotomist?” The responsibilities of phlebotomy technicians have some overlap with those of a medical lab assistant and can include:

  • Collecting blood

  • Preparing the samples to be analyzed in a clinical laboratory

  • Entering patient information into a database

This specialized work may be done in clinical laboratories, hospitals, community health centers, nursing homes, doctor’s offices, blood donation centers, and other health care facilities. Unlike a medical lab assistant, a phlebotomist’s role is focused specifically on collecting the blood samples, so they can be used to diagnose illness, evaluate the effectiveness of medications, and determine if the patient is getting proper nutrition.

How to Become a Medical Lab Assistant, Phlebotomist, or Both!

To start your career in healthcare, you’ll first need to decide on what path works best for you. You can earn certifications as a medical lab assistant or phlebotomist online through MedCerts. With one-on-one counseling and support, MedCerts prepares students to pass exams, earn certifications, and get hired for some of the most in-demand careers in the nation.

After a 12-week training program focused on phlebotomy through MedCerts, you can earn your Certified Phlebotomy Technician certification through the National Healthcareer Association. Phlebotomists earn a starting salary of about $29,000 a year from employers who look for excellent attention to detail, knowledge of medical terminology, and refined collection skills.

To be a medical lab assistant, you’ll need to complete a 16-week program to prepare for the Certified Medical Laboratory Assistant and Certified Phlebotomy Technician certification exams. You’ll notice that you can earn the same CPT certification as through the phlebotomy course, as well as the CMLA certification through American Medical Technologists. This will increase your likelihood of getting hired as a medical lab assistant, earning an average of $33,000 a year to start.

Start Your Education Today

If you still have questions, the education consultants with MedCerts are happy to help. They’ll discuss your skills, strengths, and interests to help you decide what career path is best for you.

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Published on June 21, 2022

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