What Do I Need to Start a Drug-testing Business?

Once you’ve determined that starting a drug-testing business is for you, you need to do some preliminary work before jumping right in to test people. You first need training. You’ll also need some specific supplies, and you’ll eventually want to hire a staff once you start to grow. So what exactly do you need to start a drug test business.

About Training 

There is no particular training program or license requirement to become a specimen collector for drug testing. However, you might be required to undergo specific training to work for certain clients. The training you select should match the type of drug testing you will do. For example, if you will be a business working with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), you will need to undergo DOT’s training program. You’ll need to demonstrate that you can correctly complete a urine specimen collection per DOT’s guidelines. DOT tests for marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, opiates, and phencyclidine (PCP) using a five-panel test. You would be trained to do the following, according to DOT

  • Verify the donor’s ID, and have the donor empty their pockets.
  • Have the donor select a sealed kit for providing 45 ml or more of urine.
  • Check the temperature of the sample and pour it into two bottles.
  • Seal both bottles.
  • Have the donor sign paperwork.
  • Ship the secure specimen to the Laboratory 
  • And Much More …

Note that this was an overview. You can view more detailed steps here

If you will test people who are not DOT employees, such as workers in the private sector, athletes, people on probation, or teenagers suspected by their parents of using drugs, you would still be subject to your particular state or local laws or U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) guidelines.  To limit exposure to liability follow best practices and only use qualified individuals with proper collector training.

We recommend that people get training right here at our site or better yet, we come to you at your new business location. We offer convenient certification that you can get remotely using a webcam in your home or office. We provide reading sources, video clips, live webinar training, and we let you complete five practice collections in front of a trainer using a webcam or live in person (mock collections). 

Another great place to get training is from the Drug & Alcohol Testing Industry Association (DATIA). They offer a variety of training programs, certifications, and accreditations. 

As we mentioned, there is no license, certification, or accreditation requirement to be a collector, but if you plan to be successful in this business, we highly recommend that you get training and credentials to be proficient in your job.  DOT does not certify collectors.  DOT requires collector qualification – training and proficiency demonstration. DATIA does have a Certified Professional Collector (CPC) program. 

Getting Supplies 

Collecting specimens for drug testing requires specific supplies. You’ll need to work with a laboratory that can analyze the samples you collect. The lab you work with will probably provide you with collection containers, forms to fill out, and shipping supplies, so that’s taken care of. 

You’ll also need to decide whether you will test for alcohol using a Breathalyzer. If so, you’ll need to buy a Breathalyzer. It’s a good idea to be trained on how to use and maintain one. Look for a Breathalyzer approved by DOT and/or other regulatory industries that you might be working with. The company you buy the Breathalyzer from might also provide training.  DOT testing programs require alcohol testing with an approved Breathalyzer. 

Besides the particular supplies you’ll need to start a drug-testing business, you’ll also need general supplies common to most small businesses. 

  • Pens
  • Pencils
  • Tape
  • Highlighters
  • Paper clips
  • Scissors
  • Notepaper
  • Sticky notes
  • Printer paper
  • Printer ink
  • Garbage can
  • Computer
  • Desk
  • Office chair
  • Filing cabinet
  • Lab Supplies, specimen cups, custody and control forms
  • Tamper evident tape
  • Bluing Tablets
  • Instant or POCT drug testing kits
  • Software for your business, such as for creating invoices, scheduling appointments, creating proposals, service agreements, drug testing reporting, random or consortium management and tracking payments 

About Staffing 

Although you can have a drug-testing business where you are the only employee, if you want to grow and land the bigger clients, you will need some help, particularly if you offer mobile drug testing where you or an employee of yours goes to the client or if you wish to open multiple offices. 

When you hire staff, look for people who are good at working with the public. They need to be professional and should help donors feel confident and at ease. If you or one of your employees is unprofessional in any way, the donor will likely report this bad experience to your client, and that could jeopardize your account. 

It is, therefore, very important to get your staff trained. You can send them to the same training you received, or you could attend a train-the-trainer course where you can learn to train your staff to become proficient in collecting specimens. 

Whether you send your staff to training or you train them yourself, you should also have a Standard Operating Procedures manual on hand, which covers all procedures and all problems that could arise. A minimum of two employees is recommended to operate a drug testing business in the first year.

You’ve Come to Right Place

Joe Reilly & Associates can give you the specialized training you’ll need to get started in the drug-testing business. Joe Reilly has been in the business since 1993. He has served for nine years on the Board of Directors of the Drug & Alcohol Testing Industry Association (DATIA) and as Chairman of the Board for four of those years. Joe is a recognized national expert in the drug-testing field who has assisted hundreds of employers and drug-testing companies by providing expert training and consulting.