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How Long Does A Drug Test Take: Time to Get Back Results

How Long Does a Drug Test Take?

Time is our most valuable asset, so after being extended a conditional offer of employment, one of the first questions people usually have is, “how long does a drug test take?” 


While there’s no exact answer to this question, the answer is generally that drug tests do not take very long to complete. Regardless of what type of drug screening you’re required to take, the test itself will only take up a few minutes of your time while your test results may take a few days to come back. 


Keep reading to learn how long you can expect each part of the drug testing process to take.

How Long Does the Drug Test Itself Take?

So, how long does a drug test take? Expect the entire process to take between 15-60 minutes including the check-in, wait time, and the time it takes you to provide the sample. 


The drug test itself will not take much time to complete. While you may spend some time in a waiting room before you are brought into the testing area to provide your sample, the test itself will likely only take a few minutes of your time. This is true regardless of which drug test you’re taking.


When preparing to take a drug test, be sure to schedule an hour or so to allow for wait times, even though the test itself will be over in a matter of minutes. Since most testing sites operate on a first-come-first-serve basis, the wait times will vary depending on the day. In some cases, you might be called immediately after checking in, but in other cases, there could be several people in line ahead of you.

Clean Tests, Positives, and False Positives: How Long Does it Take to Get Drug Test Results for Employment?

As a general rule, clean tests are the quickest results to come back. Since clean, or negative, results don’t require any further testing, the lab is able to quickly inform you and your employer so that the hiring process can continue.


The wait time for test results is extended when the sample tests positive. Samples are split in two after they’ve been collected. If one half of the sample tests positive, the other half is tested as well and the two halves must show the same results for the test to be conclusive.


If the two tests done on the initial sample don’t show the same results, it may indicate a false positive. In this case, you’ll need to return to the lab and provide a second sample. If both halves of the sample show the same, positive result, an employee will contact you to explain the findings.

Urine Tests: How Long Does it Take to Get Drug Test Results?

Urine test results come back fairly fast, usually within a couple of days. To expedite the process, some employers order rapid testing which gets same-day results. 


If the sample comes back clean, the results can often be reported back to the employer within 24 hours. However, the wait time will be extended if the sample shows a positive result and further testing needs to be conducted. 

Blood Tests: How Long Does it Take to Get Drug Test Results Back?

Blood test results can be reported in as little as 24 hours after the time the test was conducted. If the sample does test positive, it may take several more days to get results because of the additional testing that is needed to confirm the result. 


Despite the quick turnaround time, blood tests aren’t typically used for pre-employment drug screening because traces of the drugs are only detectable for about 48 hours after use. 

Hair Tests: How Long Do Drug Test Results Take?

Hair tests take longer to process, which means the results are slower to come back. In most cases, you can expect to wait anywhere from 5 to 10 business days before you learn the results. This extended wait time is what deters many employers from using this type of test, even though it is less invasive and can detect drug use for up to 90 days prior to the sample being given. 

How Long Does It Take to Get a Drug Test Back?: The Bottom Line

There’s no one size fits all answer to the questions of “how long does a drug test take?” or, “how long does it take for a drug test to come back?” The answers will vary depending on the type of drug screening that is used and the results. While the test itself will only take a few minutes of your time, you should expect to wait between 1 to 5 business days to learn your results. 


Still asking, “how long to get drug test results back?” Countrywide Testing has the resources you need to get the answers you want. Contact us today to learn more!