IV Therapist: Educational Requirements for a Career in IV Therapy

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become an IV therapist. Get a quick view of the prior educational requirements as well as details about IV training, job duties, career options and voluntary certification to find out if this is the career for you.

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Essential Information

IV therapy professionals use venipuncture techniques to start catheter lines for IVs. The intravenous lines facilitate drug administration, hydration or blood transfusions. Getting into this career typically requires the completion of an IV therapy program, as well as previous medical education.

Career Titles Registered Nurses Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses Emergency Medical Technicians and Paramedics
Education Requirements An associate's or bachelor's degree or a diploma in nursing and completion of an IV therapy program Individuals must earn a certificate or a diploma in practical nursing and complete an IV therapy program A certificate or associate's degree in emergency medical technology and completion of an IV therapy program
Other Requirements Licensure Licensure Licensure
Projected Job Growth (2012 - 2022)* 19% 25% 23%
Median Annual Salary (May, 2013)* $66,220 $41,920 $31,270

Source: *United States Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Options

Intravenous (IV) therapists are trained professionals who work in various areas of the health care field. For instance, they could be registered nurses (RNs), licensed practical nurses (LPNs) or emergency medical technicians (EMTs).

Registered Nurses

A registered nurse is qualified to conduct diagnostic tests, administer treatments and operate medical machinery. They provide education on the management of various medical conditions and create patient care plans. Median annual salaries for registered nurses were $66,220 in May of 2013. Job opportunities for registered nurses were expected to increase by 19% during the 2012-2022 decade.

Licensed Practical or Licensed Vocational Nurses

These nurses attend to the basic needs of patients and work to ensure their overall comfort. They check blood pressure, change bandages and chart patients' progress. Job opportunities for licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses were expected to expand by 25% between 2012 and 2022. Median annual salaries were $41,920 in May 2013.

Emergency Medical Technicians and Paramedics

Emergency medical technicians and paramedics respond to emergency calls for help and attempt to stabilize patients until they are transported to medical facilities. They are responsible for assessing patients, monitoring vital signs, attending to traumatic emergencies and administering certain medications. Employment rates for EMTs and paramedics were expected to increase by 23% from 2012 to 2022. Their median salaries were about $31,270 in 2013.

Educational Requirements

Prerequisites

Prerequisites for starting an IV therapy training program may vary by school. Those who are interested in enrolling in an IV therapy program may be required to be a current medical professional and have completed an EMT-Basic training program.

Current cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification is also required for enrollment. Some programs may require students to have completed a venipuncture course and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) training.

Training Programs

IV therapy training programs are typically offered as certificate programs through many colleges. The length of IV therapist training programs will vary by school and the student's level of education. Individuals already in the medical profession, such as registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, EMTs, phlebotomists, can enroll in a conventional program that can be completed anywhere from six months to a year.

Coursework

The curriculum for IV therapists combines classroom presentations and lectures with a clinical component in a medical facility. Students are given an opportunity to work under the supervision of a current medical professional, where they are able to administer IVs to patients with their assistance.

Topics of study include blood compatibility, administering IV medications, blood transfusions, fluid and electrolyte therapy, anatomy and physiology. When coursework and a clinical experience are completed, students must take and pass a written test. Completion qualifies them to take a certification exam. Students will also need to demonstrate their ability to administer IVs.

Certification

Although certification is not required for IV therapists, employers tend to look favorably on individuals with this credential. Certification can be obtained through credentialing agencies like the Infusion Nurses Certification Corporation, which offers the Certified Registered Nurse in Infusion certification exam. The exam is a computer-based test given at various testing sites.

According to October 2014 data from Salary.com, the median salary for RNs who specialize in infusion therapy was $78,059. The top ten percent of workers earned $97,487 and up, while the bottom ten percent earned $70,301 and below.

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