How To Become A DOT Specimen Collector

What Does It Take to Become a DOT Specimen Collector?

Becoming a Professional Specimen Collector – one that is qualified to perform DOT collections – is not difficult.  There are steps that should be followed, and the Department of Transportation lists very specific training requirements to become a “qualified” collector.
What sort of background do I need to become a Specimen Collector
for DOT drug testing?

The Department of Transportation (DOT) rules do not require Professional Specimen Collectors to have any specific background or education prior to being trained as a Specimen Collector. However, although no medical background is required, persons with an additional certification in the healthcare field are typically at an advantage when seeking employment as a Specimen Collector. The reason for this is due to the fact that the employer (most often a clinic or healthcare facility) can utilize the employee’s other  healthcare skills when he or she is not performing specimen collections (such as X-ray technicians, phlebotomists, and Medical Assistants.

On the other hand, after completing the required training, you may decide to open your own drug testing business or sell your services to companies.

What are the training requirements to be a Collector for DOT  drug testing?

The DOT rules for drug testing are found in the Code of Federal Regulations, specifically: 49 CFR Part 40. The DOT has also published a number of documents to help the Collector in ensuring that they are properly trained. Click here  for the DOT’s publication “How Can I Become a Collector For DOT Drug  Testing?”

The DOT rules do not require a Specimen Collector to be  “certified” per se; however, many companies offer a Certification  upon completion of a training program. The DOT calls the training  “qualification” training (rather than “certification” training).  

The DOT-required qualification training must teach the Collector  the Part 40 Rules relating to Collection Procedures; the specific steps in  properly completing the collection process and in completing the Federal Custody  and Control Form (CCF); specific training on how to properly handle problem  collections; training on how to handle errors (called “flaws”) in the collection process; and detailed information on the Professional Collector’s  responsibilities under the Federal Regulations in the DOT drug testing process.

Once the Collector student has completed the Qualification Training, he or she must then complete a “proficiency demonstration” with a qualified trainer or monitor. The proficiency demonstration consists of five, specific error-free mock collections, which must be documented. The mock collections should be fully acted out (including completion of the paperwork and processing of the specimen), as if the Collector is conducting real collections on a real employee.

Once fully trained, the Collector is typically good-to-go for 5  years. (The Regulations require that Collectors repeat their training every 5 years.)

Can anyone make a good specimen collector?

As mentioned, there are no requirements in the Federal  Regulations for who can become a Specimen Collector for DOT drug testing; however, there are a number of personality traits that may help the Collector in succeeding in this field of work. 

First, the Collector should be a person of integrity.  Performing collections for DOT safety-sensitive employee is serious business. The safety of hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of people may be at risk if the Collector does not perform a DOT collection properly, and thereby, allows a drug user to ‘beat’ the test. “Cutting corners” should never be considered in the DOT drug testing process. The collector should take his or her job of ensuring the integrity of the collection process and the specimen very seriously. The collector should not be a person at risk of bad judgment calls (such as willing to take a bribe from an employee to assist the employee in beating the test).

Second, the Collector should be detail-oriented.  There are many steps in the DOT collection process, and all steps must be followed in a specific sequence.  Failure to complete a single step may cause serious problems in the collection process.

Next, the Collector should have a passion for safety and for following Rules and Regulations. If you are a person that likes to blaze your own trail and find your own way to do things, DOT collections may not be for you. Specimen Collectors are bound to a very strict order and process of collecting and handling specimens. If you enjoy consistency and following a process the same way every time, you may enjoy performing specimen collections for DOT drug testing – and, you may be very good at it.

Finally, the Collector should enjoy working with people, but  also be willing to exert authority, when needed. Specimen Collectors meet  lots of people face-to-face every day and work with them very closely. You should enjoy this personal contact --- especially since the Collector may be the only person the donor actually meets face-to-face in the entire drug testing process.  Most collections go smoothly, but you should be thick-skinned enough to handle those that do not. The Collector is charged with handling difficult collection situations, when they arise.  This may include confronting hostile and abusive donors, donors attempting to be beat a drug test, and uncooperative employees.

Are there risks associated with being a Specimen Collector for DOT drug testing?

Acting as a Specimen Collector has its own occupational hazards, like any other job.  However, there are additional risks to being a Specimen Collector, such as the possibility of legal action against you (for example: by an employee/donor), and the possibility of Enforcement Action against you by the DOT or a DOT Agency (if you do things wrong in the collection process, such as not following the DOT rules/process, missing steps, making mistakes, etc.).

Becoming a Specimen Collector for DOT drug testing can be a rewarding profession; however, it also comes with its frustrations and  risks. Getting into the profession is relatively simple – get the necessary training. Certified Training Solutions’ Specimen Collector Training Course can help you take the first steps in obtaining the most thorough, professional training available in the industry. 

For more information visit:  Certified Training Solutions