Career Development

What Does a Clinical Research Associate Do?

Find out what a clinical research associate does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as a clinical research associate.

Clinical research associates (CRAs) are the people who make clinical trials happen. They help researchers design and execute studies, manage subject enrollment, monitor subject progress, and analyze data.

Clinical research is a highly regulated field that requires careful planning and execution to ensure the safety of all involved parties. CRAs play an important role in this process by ensuring that protocols are followed correctly and that results are accurately recorded and analyzed.

Clinical Research Associate Job Duties

Clinical research associates have a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Monitoring patients’ conditions during clinical trials to ensure they are safe and comfortable
  • Obtaining informed consent from patients before they begin treatment
  • Working with members of research teams to ensure the study is conducted in a timely manner
  • Coordinating with other members of the research team such as statisticians, study coordinators, nurses, and lab technicians
  • Testing new drugs and drug combinations to determine their safety and effectiveness in humans
  • Preparing reports on findings for publication in peer reviewed journals
  • Collecting and analyzing data, including performing statistical analysis, compiling data, and writing reports
  • Working with a team of medical specialists to conduct clinical trials for new medical devices or treatments
  • Collecting data from patients’ medical records to provide information about their current health status

Clinical Research Associate Salary & Outlook

Clinical research associate salaries vary depending on their level of education, years of experience, and the type of company they work for.

  • Median Annual Salary: $85,000 ($40.87/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $315,000 ($151.44/hour)

The employment of clinical research associates is expected to grow faster than average over the next decade.

As pharmaceutical companies continue to seek new drugs and treatments, demand for clinical research associates will increase. Clinical research associates will be needed to conduct clinical trials for new drugs and medical devices. In addition, as the population ages, clinical research associates will be needed to conduct clinical trials for treatments and diagnostic tests for age-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Clinical Research Associate Job Requirements

A clinical research associate typically needs to have the following qualifications:

Education: Most employers require clinical research associates to have a bachelor’s degree in a science-related field, such as biology, chemistry or pharmacology. Some employers may accept a related master’s degree, such as a Master of Science in Clinical Research or a Master of Health Science.

Training & Experience: Clinical research associates typically receive on-the-job training from their new employer. This training may include shadowing a current clinical research associate or learning the specific processes and procedures of the company.

Certifications & Licenses: Clinical research associates do not need certifications or licenses to get hired, but some get certifications to improve their job prospects or increase their knowledge in a specific area.

Clinical Research Associate Skills

Clinical research associates need the following skills in order to be successful:

Communication: Communication is another important skill for clinical research associates. They often work with many different people, including patients, other research associates, medical professionals and company representatives. Effective communication is necessary to ensure everyone understands each other and to ensure the research process runs smoothly.

Organization: Clinical research associates often have strong organizational skills, as they often have many tasks to complete each day. This can include managing multiple calendars, keeping track of research data and ensuring that all research materials are in the correct place. Being able to stay organized can help you complete your tasks on time and ensure that research data is accurate.

Attention to detail: Attention to detail is a crucial skill for clinical research associates because they often review and analyze data. This skill allows them to ensure the data is accurate and complete. Attention to detail can also help clinical research associates identify any errors in the data they review.

Scientific knowledge: Clinical research associates need to have a basic understanding of medical research and the scientific process. They need to be able to read and interpret medical research data and results to ensure the data is accurate and the research is being conducted properly. They also need to be able to understand the medical terminology used in research to ensure the research is being conducted properly.

Time management: Time management is another skill that can be helpful for clinical research associates to have. This is because they often have multiple tasks they need to complete in a day and they need to make sure they complete them all in a timely manner. This can help them meet their company’s expectations and ensure they are providing quality work.

Clinical Research Associate Work Environment

Clinical research associates work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, pharmaceutical companies, and research institutions. They may work on a full-time or part-time basis, and their hours may vary depending on the demands of the research project. Some clinical research associates work on several projects at one time, which can require frequent travel. Clinical research associates typically work regular business hours, but they may occasionally work evenings or weekends to attend meetings or to complete paperwork. The work of a clinical research associate can be stressful, as they must often juggle multiple projects and deadlines.

Clinical Research Associate Trends

Here are three trends influencing how Clinical Research Associates work. Clinical Research Associates will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

The Use of Artificial Intelligence in Clinical Trials

The use of artificial intelligence (AI) in clinical trials is becoming increasingly common as researchers look for ways to streamline the process and make it more efficient. This trend is likely to continue as AI becomes more sophisticated and able to handle complex tasks.

As AI becomes more prevalent in clinical trials, clinical research associates will need to learn how to work with this technology and utilize its capabilities to their advantage. This includes understanding how to use AI to collect and analyze data, as well as how to communicate with AI systems.

A Greater Focus on Patient-Centered Care

Clinical research associates are playing an increasingly important role in patient-centered care. This trend is driven by a desire to provide better care for patients by involving them in decisions about their treatment.

As clinical research associates become more involved in patient-centered care, they will need to develop skills that allow them to communicate effectively with patients and understand their needs. They will also need to be familiar with the latest trends in medical research so that they can help to design studies that meet the needs of patients.

More Collaboration Between Healthcare Professionals

There is a growing trend towards collaboration between healthcare professionals in order to improve patient outcomes. This trend is being driven by the increasing complexity of medicine, which requires a team approach in order to solve problems.

As clinical research associates are in a unique position to bridge the gap between different professions, they will be in high demand for their ability to collaborate and create solutions that work for everyone.

How to Become a Clinical Research Associate

A clinical research associate (CRA) career can be a great way to get started in the medical field. As a CRA, you’ll work with doctors and other healthcare professionals to conduct clinical trials that test new treatments and drugs. This is an important role that helps advance medicine by ensuring that new treatments are safe and effective.

To become a clinical research associate, you’ll need to have a science-related degree and some experience working in a lab. You’ll also need to be able to work independently and stay organized.

Advancement Prospects

The CRA role is a great stepping stone for those interested in a career in the pharmaceutical industry. Many CRAs move into project management roles after a few years in the field. Some may also move into other clinical research roles, such as regulatory affairs, quality assurance, or data management. With experience, CRAs may also move into senior CRA or principal CRA positions.

Clinical Research Associate Job Description Example

The Clinical Research Associate (CRA) is responsible for the coordination and management of clinical research studies conducted by [CompanyX]. The CRA will work closely with the Principal Investigator (PI) to ensure that studies are conducted in accordance with the study protocol, Good Clinical Practices (GCP), and all applicable regulations. The CRA will be responsible for the day-to-day management of the study, including site selection, site initiation, site monitoring, data collection and management, and close-out of the study. The CRA will also be responsible for ensuring that study subjects are treated ethically and that their rights are protected.

Duties & Responsibilities

  • Serve as the primary site contact for all clinical research studies, ensuring that communication is maintained between the sponsor, site staff, and patients
  • Review study protocols and develop an understanding of the objectives, procedures, and timelines associated with each study
  • Develop and implement recruitment plans for each study in order to enroll patients in a timely manner
  • Screen potential patients for eligibility according to protocol criteria
  • Educate patients on the risks and benefits of participating in a clinical trial and obtain informed consent
  • Schedule and confirm patient appointments, collecting demographic and medical history information
  • Perform study-related procedures, such as administering injections or collecting blood samples
  • Monitor patients throughout the course of the study for adverse events and report any serious events to the sponsor immediately
  • Maintain accurate and up-to-date patient records
  • Close out studies in accordance with Good Clinical Practices and applicable regulations
  • Train new staff members on study protocols and procedures
  • Serve as a resource for questions from patients, families, and staff

Required Skills and Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree in a scientific discipline
  • 2+ years experience working in clinical research, pharmaceuticals, or a related field
  • Working knowledge of FDA regulations and ICH/GCP guidelines
  • Excellent communication, writing, and presentation skills
  • Strong organizational skills and attention to detail
  • Ability to work independently and as part of a team

Preferred Skills and Qualifications

  • Master’s degree or higher in a scientific discipline
  • 4+ years experience working in clinical research, pharmaceuticals, or a related field
  • Experience with clinical trial management software
  • Leadership experience in a clinical research setting
  • Familiarity with medical terminology

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