Types of Drug Tests for Employment – Which One is the Most Common?


Did you know that some jobs require that you take a drug test as part of the employee onboarding process? We will highlight the different types of drug tests for employment, including the most common ones, so you know what to expect.

Urine Test: The Most Common Drug Test for Employment

Employees undergoing a urine test is one of the most common types of drug tests to finalize an employment arrangement. The American Association of Clinical Chemistry states that urine is where drugs are most detectable because they become concentrated in the user’s urine after consuming large amounts of drugs.

Hence, urine samples pick up on the most recent drug use patterns because it is readily omitted when naturally urinating to flush out the toxins from your body. Plus, it is non-invasive and an easy sample to collect from potential employees. 

Saliva Test

Employers like to administer saliva tests as they are quick and easy to collect and offer expedited results. A saliva sample can pick on various drugs, depending on how long it has been since the person last consumed the substance.

For example, Xanax can be detectable in saliva for up to 26 hours while Flexeril is detectable for up to 36 hours. Saliva tests can detect whether a person has been abusing opioids, PCP, amphetamines, barbiturates, THC, or other illegal drugs.

Blood Test

While drugs have shorter detection time frames for most drugs than compared to the detection windows in urine, it is still a valid pre-employment drug test. Amphetamines and codeine stay in the blood for about 12 hours while cocaine and barbiturates can be detectable in a person’s blood for up to one to two days.

Breath Alcohol Tests

Breath alcohol tests find out if you have been recently drinking. Your blood alcohol content level (BAC) can rise as soon as 15 minutes after consuming alcohol. Hence, it is not the best idea to consume alcohol on the same day as a pre-employment breath alcohol test screening.

Hair Sample

A person’s hair grows about an inch on average each month. Hence, if a person has been constantly using a drug for the past few months, it can be detectable in a hair sample. However, if someone just started using a new drug say a couple of weeks before the hair sample drug test, it may not be detectable in the hair immediately.

Frequently Asked Questions

Now that you know more about the different drug tests administered as a mandate for some jobs, here are answers to your frequently asked questions about the topic.

What jobs require drug testing as a mandate for employment?

Various positions in the government sector, healthcare, private security, education, construction, information technology (IT), and aerospace require that you take a drug test as part of the onboarding process.

Any profession that involves directly assisting people, operating heavy machinery, or working with highly secure and confidential information needs a clear-minded individual. Hence, drug tests are integral so your employer knows that you can handle the position without drugs compromising your integrity and productivity.

Are you eligible for hiring if you fail a pre-employment drug screening?

You will be ineligible for the position if you fail the drug test.

Final Thoughts

If you have a drug use problem and you are trying to get into a job that requires a pre-employment drug screening, work on yourself to come clean of the drug use before applying. Your reputation and mental health will thank you in the long run.