Phlebotomy/Specimen Processing Program | Westmoreland County Community College, Youngwood, Pennsylvania


Get Skills for a New Career in One Semester

Specimen Processing student

Whether you have been a patient or a blood donor, you have encountered a phlebotomist. Phlebotomists draw blood for tests, transfusions, research or blood donations. Specimen processors work with specimen samples such as blood, bacteria and body tissue in conjunction with other health care workers.

What Will I Learn?

The Westmoreland program offers students two options; first, a student can prepare for a career as a phlebotomist in a hospital or non-acute healthcare setting (ex. clinic, lab, skilled nursing facility); second, students can prepare to function as a laboratory specimen processor or laboratory aide in a clinical laboratory setting.

Students with previous credit or noncredit phlebotomy certificates and documented two years of clinical experience may apply to test out of the phlebotomy specific courses. View Phlebotomy/Specimen Processing in the College Catalog 

What Will I Earn?

If you plan to stay in the region, there are many occupations related to this program degree and certificates. In the 10-county region* surrounding Westmoreland County Community College, the earnings for occupations in this field range from $14.72 - $22.34 per hour, with an average hourly wage of $18.10. 

It is important to remember that wages vary based on level of education, experience, job location and other factors. 

Source: Data provided by Lightcast™ ( 2023.1

* 10-county region includes Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Lawrence, Washington and Westmoreland.

Career Opportunities

Phlebotomists typically work at hospitals, commercial laboratories, physician’s offices, blood banks, pharmaceutical firms, home health agencies, research institutions and public health clinics.

In addition to performing phlebotomy, specimen processors collect, evaluate and process various laboratory samples for hospital laboratories, physician office groups, and free-standing surgical facilities.

Basic Application Process - Health Professions

Frequently Asked Questions

Both specialties draw blood from patients (phlebotomy) and request other body fluid samples from patients. Both also search and enter data into computer systems. Phlebotomy includes venipuncture (drawing blood from veins) and capillary punctures (heel sticks and finger sticks).

Specimen processors (also known as lab assistants) prepare and deliver specimens to the various areas of the laboratory.  Specimen processors often obtain and test some samples from body systems. Processors often trouble shoot and correct specimen errors in addition to performing phlebotomy skills.

Completing both programs is beneficial for those wishing to work in the laboratory as a phlebotomist and/or lab assistant.

For students pursuing another Health Professions Program (such as Medical Assisting, Radiology or Nursing), it is helpful to complete the Phlebotomy Only Certificate while completing pre-program course work. Although students learn to perform phlebotomy as part of these programs, completing the phlebotomy certificate provides a more comprehensive education.

In addition, students with a phlebotomy certificate are able to waive the 80 hours of required phlebotomy time during the Medical Assisting Practicum (MAS120).

Note: students are assigned to clinical sites for the second half of the semester for phlebotomy with a Monday through Friday schedule. Only online or evening classes can be scheduled during the same semester as Phlebotomy/Specimen Processing.

The first 8 weeks of semester consist of lectures and lab; they take place in the classroom on Mondays for Phlebotomy and Wednesdays for Specimen Processing.  Classes generally begin at 8am and end around 2pm with a break for lunch.  

For the second 8 weeks of semester, the student reports directly to their assigned clinical site.  The hours spent in practicum must be unpaid.  They are always scheduled during daylight hours Monday through Friday (average of 4 days per week).  Most sites schedule students from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.  A few of sites require 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. shifts.

Students must complete 224 hours at a clinical site during the second 8 weeks of the semester.

Neither program has prerequisites.  Both programs have co-requisites of PDV101 (First Year Seminar) and ALH122 (Medical Terminology) which can be completed prior to beginning phlebotomy or during phlebotomy. 

The Phlebotomy Only program is NOT covered by Financial Aid.  Phlebotomy and Specimen Processing Certificate account for 18 credits; it is financial aid-eligible. 

All classes required for the program must have at least a C grade. 

Class Scheduling:

ALH122_Medical Terminology:  online or evening class required if completing during same semester as phlebotomy.  (3 credits)
PDV101_First Year Seminar:  This class provides an overview of college requirements and resouces.  It is required for all students at Westmoreland.  (1 credit)
PHB_101_01 Clinical Phlebotomy (4 credits)
PHB_105_13 Specimen Processing (4 credits)
PHB_110_01 Specimen Processing Practicum (4 credits) includes phlebotomy practicum
PHB_111_01 Phlebotomy Practicum (4 credits) for phlebotomy only certificate

Note: when completing both certificates, PHB101, PHB105 and PHB110 is required.  When completing phlebotomy only certificate, PHB101 and PHB111 is required. 

The phlebotomy experience starts with practice arms. Once the skills are demonstrated, then they are perfected in the classroom with each student being both the phlebotomist and the patient.

Students are limited to receiving two phlebotomies each lab session per student. All students participate in this practice.

After your application, you will be notified if you are accepted into the program, you will receive notice of the orientation meeting. The program director will give you the web site and explain the requirements. Those forms will clearly indicate the deadline for submission of that information.

You will have drug tests, FBI fingerprint screening, Act 33/34 clearance, physical exam, any immunizations that need to be updated (Tdap, HBV, PPD) CPR and liability insurance before starting the program. All results must be received before the start of the program to assure your safety.

The program has very specific requirements that must be followed for the clearances. Do not obtain the clearances until directed to avoid extra costs.

You must have started your HBV injection series before you start invasive skills and working with bloodborne pathogens.

The completion of health records, immunizations, purchase of uniforms, and textbooks is a large amount of money at the start of the program. Be sure to consider day care and transportation arrangements also.

Yes, during your orientation you will receive a dress code and uniform requirements. There are rigid guidelines for professional appearance and attendance.

You wear Westmoreland scrubs during all classes (lectures and labs) and practicum hours.

All Health Professions students wear color specific (according to program of study), embroidered scrubs obtained through the College Store. The Phlebomy/Specimen Processing scrub color is burgundy.

This is a single semester program and daily attendance is mandatory. Attendance, appearance, attitude, and class participation are part of the grading scale.

You will lose those points if you are not in class. If you have a written excuse and it is accepted, you will receive partial credit.

Students who have passed Phlebotomy programs or have been trained on the job may take the Phlebotomy final exams (written and physical) to “test out” of PHB 101.

This program is a certificate level program. Although students graduate with a certificate in phlebotomy, it is not the same as “being certified”. Certification (also known as registration by some agencies) requires passing a national examination.

Pennsylvania does not require phlebotomists to be certified at this time; however, you will be eligible to take a national phlebotomy certification exam for the RPT, Registered Phlebotomy Technician through American Medical Technologists. Visit for details about the RPT certification.

In addition to tuition, other fees may be associated with this program.  Costs will vary depending on insurance coverage, vaccines needed, etc.  This  is an estimate:

Castle Branch package:  $134
Passport photos required for file:  $10
Second drug screen (need before practicum):  $79
Child Abuse Clearance:  $8
FBI Fingerprinting:  $28
CPR:  $20 to $85
Student Liability Insurance:  $40
Medical Examination, Immunizations and Bloodwork:  varies based on insurance coverage
Textbook:  $125
Scrubs, shoes:  varies based on how many sets purchased; scrubs average around $60 per full set (top, pants and warm up jacket); must students purchase at least 2 sets