What Jobs Drug Test Before Hiring?

May 5, 2022
Checkr Editor

Editor’s note: Nothing in Checkr’s Blog should be construed as legal advice, guidance, or counsel. Companies should consult their own legal counsel about their compliance responsibilities under the FCRA and applicable state and local laws. Checkr expressly disclaims any warranties or responsibility or damages associated with or arising out of information provided.

Of the many questions we’re asked about workplace drug testing policies, “what jobs drug test before hiring” and “how often do companies drug test” are among the most common. So let’s discuss the prevalence of drug testing as part of the hiring process. 

Do most jobs drug test? Not officially. As of 2019, only 1.47% of US job postings mention that pre-employment drug tests are required, and only 0.66% mention regular drug testing. Yet, because the rate of workforce drug positivity hit a fourteen-year high in 2018, an increasing number of companies are requiring employees to comply with testing policies. 

Join us as we take an in-depth look into requirements, laws, and what kind of jobs drug test prior to employment. 

What is a pre-employment drug test?

Drug tests determine whether a prospective employee uses illicit substances or uses alcohol or prescription medication inappropriately. Companies that drug test have several different testing methods at their disposal, including:

  • Urine testing
  • Hair testing
  • Oral fluid testing (saliva)
  • Breath Alcohol testing
  • Blood testing

In places that drug test, urine testing is most common because it’s the least invasive and is the approved methodology for federally mandated drug screening. Negative results take around a day to process, while additional testing on non-negative results takes a few days. Urine-based drug tests can take place as little as a week before onboarding. 

Jobs that drug test use urine samples to check for the presence of controlled and illicit substances, including:

  • Marijuana/THC
  • Cocaine
  • Amphetamines (including MDMA and methamphetamine)
  • Opiates (including heroin, codeine, morphine, hydrocodone, oxycodone, hydromorphone, and oxymorphone)
  • Phencyclidine (PCP)

Are drug tests required before hiring?

Pre-employment screening is rarely a blanket requirement within companies that drug test. Testing is usually restricted to safety-sensitive positions or government roles where alcohol and drug abuse can lead to public endangerment or increased health and safety risks. 

Jobs that require drug testing vary depending on the industry and the organization’s needs. There are no federal laws that prohibit pre-employment testing, although several states regulate the types of drug tests employers can demand. You can learn more about state-by-state regulations on the American Civil Liberties Union website

Drug testing laws

Pre-employment drug testing is strictly confidential. Regulations protect against the public release of the results, and employees usually have to sign a release for their employer to access them.  

Here are two different legal authorities for jobs that drug test:

  1. The Omnibus Transportation Employee Testing Act of 1991
    Department of Transport (DOT) regulations stipulate that new truck drivers, machinery operators, and other transportation workers should file a negative drug test before commencing duties. There are also ongoing testing requirements for DOT-regulated employees. 
  2. Executive Order 12564: Drug-Free Federal Workplace
    Signed into effect by Ronald Reagan in 1986, EO12564 prohibits the use of illegal drug use by all federal employees, whether on or off duty.

That’s not to say that all government employees are subject to pre-employment drug testing. EO 125645 instructs each agency to develop their own drug-free workplace program, so most will have similar policies and test for the same drugs. However, what jobs require drug testing remains company and position-dependent based on roles and responsibilities.

What jobs drug test before hiring?

There is no definitive list of jobs that require drug testing. However, industries that are more likely to conduct pre-employment screening than others include:

  • Government
  • Hospitals and health care
  • Transportation 
  • Construction
  • Aerospace and defense
  • Education 
  • Information Technology
  • Private security

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) issued guidance on what should be deemed a testing designated position (TDP). The majority of companies follow these guidelines, although ultimately, authority rests with each individual employer. 

Specific job roles that are regularly classed as testing designated positions and require pre-employment checks under either the Omnibus Transportation Employee Testing Act or EO12564 include:

  • Transportation/railroad/aviation personnel
  • Law enforcement
  • Agency heads
  • Political appointees
  • Employees authorized in the use of firearms
  • Employees with security clearance to access classified documents and information
  • Employees involved in rehabilitating drug users

Roles that are not classified as testing designated positions, but may still be required to test to ensure essential duties are not performed while under the influence, include:

  • Social workers
  • Health care professionals
  • Pharmacists
  • Firefighters

Both lists above are not exhaustive and are subject to change. While it helps to know what jobs drug test before hiring, bear in mind that even in non-TDP roles, an employee can still be tested once their contract begins. Employers can require a drug test for existing employees if they have reasonable suspicion that an employee is abusing substances. 

Learn more about drug testing

Need help navigating drug testing rules and regulations or conducting drug and alcohol screening for your organization? Partnering with Checkr gives you access to our team of fair chance hiring experts and the technology you need to make your pre-employment drug screenings faster, easier, and more compliant.

Contact our team today and discover how to grow your employee base with confidence using our AI-powered approach to fair background checks for all.

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