Specimen Processor Definition
A specimen processor, or specimen accessioner, is a healthcare professional who processes biological specimens and information from a patient once it arrives to a lab. Specimen processors may also be considered laboratory aides, phlebotomy technicians, or clinical laboratory technicians. Below, we discuss a career as a specimen processor in more detail.
Specimen Processor Salary
In November 2019, PayScale.com reported that specimen processors made a median hourly wage of $13.94. This equated to a median annual salary of $35,153. The salary for these professionals may vary by factors like employer, specific skill sets, location, and experience level. For example, PayScale.com reported that the hourly wage for a processor with 20 years or more of experience was $16.92.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the median annual salary for all clinical laboratory technologists and technicians was $52,330 in 2018. Those who worked in general medical and surgical hospitals made a median salary of $55,040, while those in medical and diagnostic laboratories made a median salary of $50,040.
Specimen Processor Job Description and Duties
Specimen processors generally work in a clinical laboratory setting that may be in a hospital or other healthcare facility. Typically, these professionals work full time and may be required to work evenings, nights, and weekends to meet the needs of their patients. Specimen processors must follow required safety procedures when working with specimens to prevent the spread of any possible infection.
Specimen processors are primarily responsible for processing laboratory samples from patients as they come into the lab. This usually includes checking a specimen's information for accuracy, entering specimen information into the computer, and ensuring the right department receives the specimen and information. Specimen processors most commonly work with blood, but may also work with other body samples and fluids. Some may even draw blood in certain situations. Other job duties for these professionals may include:
- Preparing specimens for testing
- Delivering specimens to different parts of the lab as needed
- Recording test results
Specimen Processing Requirements
Specimen processors, like clinical laboratory technicians, usually need a postsecondary certificate or associate's degree. Those interested in becoming a phlebotomist or a clinical laboratory technologist usually need a bachelor's degree with coursework in phlebotomy. Several of these phlebotomy courses may even be available in online formats.
Students can pursue basic phlebotomy courses or phlebotomy/specimen processing certificate or technical diploma programs that both help prepare for the American Medical Technologists (AMT) Registered Phlebotomy Technician (RPT) Exam. Coursework in phlebotomy/specimen processing certificate programs may include topics in:
- Specimen processing
- Medical terminology
- Clinical phlebotomy
The RPT certification requires students to have graduated from a phlebotomy program and accumulated 120 didactic clock hours or have at least 1,040 work experience hours as a phlebotomy technician. Meeting these criteria enable students to take the AMT certification exam.
Specimen Processor Job Outlook
While the BLS did not report a job outlook specifically for specimen processors, the job outlook for clinical laboratory technologists and technicians was 11% from 2018 to 2028. This outlook is much faster than the national average and may be attributed to the growing need for diagnostic medical procedures.