Phlebotomist vs. Medical Assistant

Head-to-head comparisons of salaries, education, job requirements, and more.


Phlebotomists draw blood for lab testing or medical procedures. 

Medical assistants help doctors and other health care professionals with administrative and clinical tasks, such as taking blood pressure.


The median salary for phlebotomists is $37,380 per year or $17.97 per hour (Source: BLS

The median salary for medical assistants is $37,190 per year or $17.88 per hour (Source: BLS)

What they do

Phlebotomists typically do the following (Source: O*Net):

  • Collect blood from patients and blood donors
  • Clean, organize and maintain medical equipment such as needles and vials
  • Interact with patients
  • Enter information into database
  • Dispose of blood or other biological waste

Medical assistants typically do the following (Source: O*Net):

  • Interact with patients and collect patient information
  • Prepare patient examination rooms
  • Administrative work, such as scheduling patient appointments or updating patient medical records
  • Clinical work, such as measuring vital signs
  • Give patients medication or injections, as permitted by state law

What they do

Phlebotomists typically enter the profession by completing a certification program or through on-the-job training. Certification requirements differ from state to state. California, for example, requires all phlebotomists and phlebotomy technologists to be certified after completing academic coursework as well as clinical training. Sample career path:

  1. Earn high school diploma or complete GED
  2. Complete certificate program, including classroom and clinical work
  3. Obtain certification, for example the National Phlebotomy Certification Examination (NPCE)
  4. Find job in a hospital or laboratory

In most states, there are no formal requirements to become a medical assistant. Medical assistants typically complete a certificate or diploma program. Others complete a 2-year associate’s program. Still others can become medical assistants through on-the-job training. Sample career path: 

  1. Obtain high school diploma or its equivalent
  2. Complete certificate program or associate’s degree program
  3. Find job in doctor’s office or other health care facility

Frequently Asked Questions

Which is a better career phlebotomist or medical assistant?

Yes, medical assistants are allowed to draw blood in many states. However, they must have proper training and certification in order to do so.

Is a medical assistant allowed to draw blood?

There is no definitive answer to this question as it depends on individual preferences and goals. However, both careers offer opportunities to provide healthcare services and make a difference in people's lives. Phlebotomists may enjoy working more directly with patients and having the opportunity to draw blood, while medical assistants may prefer working in a more administrative role and having more contact with medical records. Ultimately, both careers can be rewarding and provide individuals with a sense of satisfaction.