Specimen processors work with specimen samples, such as blood, bacteria and body tissue, in conjunction with other health care workers. The minimum educational requirement for entry-level positions is a high school diploma or GED certificate, but some jobs may require as much as a bachelor's degree.
A specimen processor is a medical laboratory professional who catalogs specimens for use by other health care workers, including laboratory technicians, nurses, and physicians. Specimens can include blood samples, bacteria cultures, and even organs. Some specimen processors have only a high school diploma, while others in more specialized roles complete higher levels of education and certification. Some states require registration or licensing for certain positions.
|Required Education||High school diploma or GED certificate; some jobs require an associate's or bachelor's degree|
|Licensing||Some states require licensing or registration for certain positions|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)||18% for medical and clinical laboratory technicians*|
|Median Wage (2016)||$13 per hour**|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), **PayScale.com.
According to PayScale.com, the median hourly wage of a specimen processor was $13 as of January 2016, with most workers in the field earning between $21,802 and $35,758 yearly, including overtime and bonuses. Salary rates can depend on a variety of factors, including required education, job duties, and location.
All specimen processors receive specimens, enter specimen data into a computer system, prepare samples for further laboratory analysis, and transport specimens to other labs and clinical departments. Other duties depend on the type of specimens a processor works with.
For example, according to a Monster.com job posting from November 2013, specimen processors who work in phlebotomy, a field focused on the collection of blood samples, will be required to use a variety of venipuncture techniques to collect blood directly from patients. They also might use a centrifuge to separate blood into plasma and platelets for further study.
Entry-level specimen processor positions usually require just a high school diploma and basic data entry skills. For more advanced positions, employers might prefer those who have prior experience in a laboratory setting. Along with lab experience, data entry and organizational abilities as well as written and verbal communication skills are essential for success in this field.
Specialized specimen processors might need some type of advanced education. For instance, phlebotomists might need an associate's degree or phlebotomy license, depending on local regulations. Histologists, specialized specimen processors who prepare tissue samples for microscopic analysis, might need an associate's or bachelor's degree and a license to practice.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of medical and clinical laboratory technicians is expected to increase by 18% between 2014 and 2024. This expected growth is due to an increased use of blood and tissue samples in a variety of diagnostic tests, as well as an aging population with increased health care needs.
Those wishing to become specimen processors should consider earning an associate's or bachelor's degree to increase job opportunities, but they only need a high school diploma for the majority of entry-level positions. Candidates should also check the licensing requirements for the state they intend to work in.