Specimen Processor: Salary, Duties, Requirements and Career Info
A specimen processor is a laboratory professional who catalogues 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 may only have a high school diploma, while others may complete higher levels of education and certification.
According to PayScale.com the median annual salary of a specimen processor is $26,340 as of November 2013, with the vast majority of such workers earning between $21,620 and $35,993.Salary rates can depend on a variety of factors, including required education, job duties, and location. For example, PayScale.com indicated that specimen processors with less than one year of experience typically earn $11.47 to $13.50 an hour, while those with 10 to 19 years of experience make $12.78 to $18.31 an hour.
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 upon 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 may also use a centrifuge to separate blood into plasma and platelets for further study.
Entry-level specimen processor positions usually require just a high school degree and basic data entry skills. For more advanced positions, employers may prefer those who have prior experience in a laboratory setting. Along with laboratory experience, data entry and organizational abilities as well as written and verbal communication abilities are essential for success in this field.
Specialized specimen processors may need some type of advanced education. For instance, phlebotomists may need an associate's degree or phlebotomy license, depending on local regulations. Histologists, specialized specimen processors who prepare tissue samples for microscopic analysis, may also need an associate's or bachelor's degree and a license to practice.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were 157,920 medical and clinical laboratory technicians, including a variety of specimen processors, employed in 2012 (www.bls.gov).The employment of medical and clinical laboratory technologists and technicians is expected to increase by 11% between 2010 and 2020. 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.
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