How to be become a Drug and Alcohol Tester
The need for Drug and Alcohol testing has risen across many different sectors and industries.
In Australia, employers have a duty of care to provide a safe and productive working environment and to ensure that employees won’t be at any risk due to other employees being under the influence of drugs or alcohol according to the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety WA.
This important service is provided by Drug and Alcohol Testing Technicians. If you’re thinking about becoming a drug and alcohol tester, we’ve put together everything you’ll need to know about the role and how to get into it.
Why do companies do Drug and Alcohol Testing?
A drug and alcohol testing policy can still be a controversial choice for some companies.
While employers would obviously want to know if anyone in their staff is possibly impaired, employees can feel that it violates their privacy when testing can identify drug use outside of the workplace.
But for many industries, drug and alcohol testing is a must. It promotes a safer work environment, reduces the potential legal liabilities, and leads to a more productive work environment.
Where would you work as a Drug and Alcohol tester?
There are many different industries that may need to enforce drug and alcohol testing programs.
In Australia the most well-known industry is the mining industry, but there is also drug and alcohol testing in the transportation industry, sporting, construction and health industries. And as the need for these programs grow the demand for qualified drug and alcohol testing technicians will grow with it.
What does a Drug and Alcohol tester do?
A drug and alcohol testing technician is responsible for the collection and testing of specimens to detect drug use, in a safe, respectful and regulated manner.
The way these specimens are collected depends on the program and on what the company is testing for. But these specimens can be collected one of these four ways.
1. Breath testing – Breath testing is used to detect blood alcohol level, it is instantaneous in it’s results.
2. Salvia swabs – this is done scrapping a swab against the inside of the cheek and can detect drug use within hours to days. It is usually completed on site and results can take a little as ten minutes.
3. Urine samples – this method is employed to check for drug use within days to weeks. This method is also employed through on-site testing programs and the results can sometimes take a few days to come back.
4. Hair samples – this method involves cutting a piece of hair from the subject, this is then sent away for laboratory testing. This method can detect drug use going back several months.
Different methods are employed depending on the concerns and needs of the employer and the drugs they are testing for. You can test for alcohol, meth/amphetamines, opiates, benzodiazepines, THC and Cocaine.
How do I become a Drug and Alcohol Tester?
A successful drug and alcohol testing technician will have great attention to detail and will need to always complete their work to the letter. Making a mistake could be the difference between keeping other employees safe or contributing to someone being let go. If you want to succeed in this role you’ll need to have an eye for detail, be a stickler for the rules and complete the necessary training.
To be a qualified drug and alcohol tester in Australia you must complete HLTPAT005 Collect specimens for drug of abuse testing. This course is completed through a one day face to face workshop. We run our workshop at our Logan, Gold Coast and North Lakes campuses.
The cost of the course is $500 and there are no formal entry requirements to be able to enrol in this course.
In the course you’ll learn how to follow the strict collection procedures and requirements, prepare the clients and testing candidates and administer the tests and/or collect the specimens adhering to the procedures to prevent cross contamination in the process.
How much do Drug and Alcohol Testers make?
The average hourly rate for a drug and alcohol testing technician is $25 to $30 per hour. But this rate could go up or down depending on the industry you’re working in and the requirements of the role. A lot of drug and alcohol testing technicians also complete additional work and health safety training to upskill and offer more value to their employers. This could also affect your pay rate. Additionally, licensed Security Officers may be required to carry out these duties as part of their role.
If you’re interested in knowing more about this exciting career path why not have a chat with one of our friendly course advisors? They’re happy to help you work out which course will be best for you.