How to Become a Clinical Research Associate

We asked some senior CRAs to share their experiences and advice on what gave them an “in,” and helped them land sought-after CRA positions. What are some other strategies that you can use to gain an edge, how can you stand out, and make recruiters take notice?

How To Become A Clinical Research Associate (CRA)

What does a clinical research associate do?

Some of the primary responsibilities for clinical research associates include:

What is a clinical research associate?

A clinical research associate is a member of the medical community who conducts medical research, manages clinical trials to evaluate the efficacy of drugs, and certifies their safety before allowing consumers to purchase them. Clinical research associates (CRAs) are typically employed by a contract research organization that collaborates with several pharmaceutical companies or by a single pharmaceutical company, and they work with both new and existing drugs.

Average salary for a clinical research associate

The fundamental actions you ought to take to pursue a career as a clinical research associate are listed below:

1. Pursue a bachelors

Candidates need to have a bachelor’s degree in a field related to health for the majority of clinical research associate positions. If there are degrees available, you might want to think about biological sciences, health sciences, medical technology, life science, or clinical research if you’re interested in working as a clinical research associate.

2. Gain experience

Most employers prefer people with some industry experience when hiring entry-level candidates for clinical research positions. Search for part-time positions in a lab or internships to gain experience. You might even be able to locate fellowships looking for assistance with research.

3. Consider a masters

Consider earning your master’s degree if you want to be prepared for positions in management or supervision. Many masters programs are offered online, giving those who are employed full-time as clinical research associates more flexibility.

4. Consider certification

You might want to think about pursuing a certification as a Certified Clinical Research Associate (CCRA) after gaining some experience as a clinical research associate. Applicants must be able to show proof of their independence from the investigating staff while conducting research, their employment with a sponsor such as a pharmaceutical company or academic department, and their performance of all CCRA essential duties in order to be considered.

These crucial responsibilities include things like following a monitoring plan when monitoring studies, making sure all reporting is complete, and checking the accuracy of site records. Clinical research associates must take continuing education courses to keep their certifications in good standing, though the amount of continuing education needed varies depending on the certifying body.

Frequently asked questions about being a clinical research associate

Inquiries about a career as a clinical research associate frequently include the following:

Whats the job outlook for a clinical research associate?

Medical scientists, which includes clinical research associates, are expected to see an 8% increase in employment between 2018 and 2028. This is faster than the 5% average for all occupations. The spread of new and existing diseases could increase due to population growth, rising population density, and an increase in international travel. To help with the development of new medications and vaccines to combat these illnesses and diseases, this will increase the demand for clinical research associates.

How can you increase your salary as a clinical research associate?

You can do a few things as a clinical research associate to boost your pay, such as:

What skills should a clinical research associate have?

Some of the fundamental abilities a clinical research associate should possess are listed below for maximum success in that career:


How long does it take to become a clinical research associate?

Research site management, clinical research management, research protocol design, introduction to ethics, and clinical research terminology are among the topics covered in the 20–21-month program.

Is it hard to become a clinical research associate?

Finding your first job in clinical research can be difficult, and many recent graduates may become frustrated by the “catch 22” situation in which they are unable to find employment due to a lack of experience and are unable to obtain experience because they are unable to locate employment.

How do you become a clinical researcher?

A four-year bachelor’s degree in a field related to biology, mathematics, or physics is typically required for a career in clinical research to start during undergraduate studies. Given how competitive medical and doctoral programs are, having a strong academic record is crucial.

How do I get certified in CRA?

Candidates must verify that they have 3,000 hours of professional experience performing the knowledge and tasks listed in the six content areas of the CRA Detailed Content Outline in order to be considered eligible for the CRA Certification exam. Any experience older than ten years will not be considered.

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