Note: Completion of a TAFE SA course does not guarantee an employment outcome. Formal requirements other than educational qualifications (eg licensing, professional registration), may apply to some occupations.

Job Prospects
Openings 5 years to November 2019: 10 001 to 25,000
Median weekly earnings: < $920
Australian Government Department of Employment 2015
'You need maturity and common sense in this job. It can be very tense because there is no room for error and we are often responsible for sick people,' says a Pathology Centre Specimen Collection Phlebotomy Supervisor.

Due to a lack of specific data, the exact number of phlebotomists (pathology specimen collectors) is difficult to pinpoint. There does, however, appear to be more females in this occupation than males. The majority of pathology specimen collectors work in the metropolitan area.

TAFE SA courses that may be relevant for: Phlebotomist

Accredited (Award)

  • Phlebotomists (pathology specimen collectors) mainly collect blood samples from patients for laboratory analysis. This is done for reasons such as the diagnosis of disease or to determine blood typing. Pathology specimen collectors may also conduct mycology collections (this involves taking skin scrapes, toe nail clippings or hair samples from patients), urine testing (this may be carried out for drug testing purposes) or swab collections from wound sites. After she has sighted a doctor's request form, she must prioritise the various patients from whom she will collect samples. One patient may require an urgent sample for instance, in which case it would be done first. Some samples are temperature variant and must be sent to a laboratory for analysis within a certain time of being taken from the patient. Pathology specimen collectors therefore, need to take such factors into account when collecting samples.


  • There are no specific education requirements necessary to become a pathology specimen collector, however, it is recommended that you complete some training in phlebotomy. A sound basis of verbal and written English is also required. A medical or laboratory technician background would be advantageous.

    TAFE SA offers the following courses that may assist you in gaining entry into this occupation: Certificate III and IV in Pathology.

  • At present there is not a high demand for pathology specimen collectors, however, this is an occupation noted for its transient nature. A higher number of job openings arise from time to time.

  • Once a sample is taken it is labelled immediately in front of the patient and then placed in a hazards bag or biological rack. This helps to prevent any mixing up of samples. Details surrounding the sample must also be recorded on the doctor's request form and on the collector's stat sheet. The sample is then sent to a laboratory for analysis. At laboratories, samples undergo centrifugation. They are spun at a very high speed, and the resulting force helps separate the different components of various samples, assisting with diagnosis. The sample results are bar-coded with a laboratory number.

    Pathology specimen collectors also:
    Explain specimen collection methods and procedures to patients.
    Examine patients and check their veins (mostly in the arm region).
    Determine the type of equipment to be used to collect samples.
    Assemble equipment such as needles, disposable specimen containers, tourniquet, gauze, cotton and alcohol according to specific procedures.
    Monitor inventory and order supplies.
    Take capillary blood samples from fingers and heels.
    Disinfect work area and equipment.
    Maintain records or a database of activities such as the number of patients seen, the type and number of specimens obtained, the type and number of specimens received and test results.
    Monitor inventory and order supplies.

  • Pathology specimen collectors need to know about the anatomy of the arm as well as blood-taking techniques. This includes knowing how to use hypodermic needles to collect blood samples and how to collect blood correctly so that the specimen is not damaged. They must be trained and confident in the use of equipment such as hypodermic needles, syringes and collection tubes. People with a medical work background are particularly well suited to this occupation as are people who have worked in a laboratory.

    Depending on the type of organisation they work for, pathology specimen collectors may have to travel to collect samples (this is referred to as a domiciliary service). They may travel to nursing homes or outpatient clinics to collect samples. In the metropolitan area, pathology specimen collectors are employed by private pathology laboratories, at some clinics.

  • On a personal level people able to handle stressful situations diplomatically, are well suited to this occupation. Pathology specimen collectors treat patients who may be unwell or who dislike needles (best if the pathology specimen collector is not squeamish themselves), so it is a bonus if they are able to put these types of patients at ease. This is an occupation that requires a high level of responsibility and up and coming pathology specimen collectors must be able to follow methods and procedures. A sound awareness of safety and hygiene and a general medical knowledge are also very beneficial in this occupation.

    For further information, contact:

    Institute of Medical and Veterinary Science
    PO Box 14 Rundle Mall SA 5000
    Ph: (08) 8222 3000
    Fax: (08) 8222 3538
    Internet Address: