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Research Coordinator vs. Research Associate: What Are the Differences?

Learn about the two careers and review some of the similarities and differences between them.

A career in research can be both exciting and rewarding. If you’re interested in this field, you may be wondering what the difference is between a research coordinator and research associate. Both positions play important roles in the research process, but there are several key differences between them. In this article, we discuss the similarities and differences between research coordinators and research associates, and we provide an overview of the duties and responsibilities of each position.

What is a Research Coordinator?

Research Coordinators work in a variety of settings, such as hospitals, clinics, pharmaceutical companies and private research laboratories. They develop research proposals and protocols, then work with a team of scientists to carry out the projects. Research Coordinators collect and analyze data, prepare reports and present findings to project sponsors. They may also be responsible for managing budgets, ordering supplies and scheduling research facilities. To be successful, Research Coordinators must be detail-oriented and have strong organizational, communication and project management skills.

What is a Research Associate?

Research Associates conduct research on a variety of topics to support the goals of their organization. They develop research proposals, collect and analyze data, and write reports based on their findings. They may work in a variety of settings, such as government agencies, think tanks, corporations, or non-profit organizations. Research Associates typically have a bachelor’s degree in a field such as sociology, political science, or economics. Some organizations may require Research Associates to have a master’s degree or doctorate.

Research Coordinator vs. Research Associate

Here are the main differences between a research coordinator and a research associate.

Job Duties

Research coordinators and research associates share some job duties, but there are differences in their daily tasks. Research coordinators often manage the study by creating a research plan, scheduling participants to take part in the study and overseeing data collection. They also help researchers develop methods for collecting data and assist with other research tasks.

Research associates typically perform the data analysis for the study by using the information collected from participants to determine findings. They may communicate these findings to the researcher or other individuals who need the data. Research associates also help researchers collect and organize other research materials, such as notes and surveys.

Job Requirements

Research coordinators and research associates typically need a bachelor’s degree in a scientific field, such as biology, chemistry or physics. Some employers may prefer candidates with a master’s degree or higher, but it is not always required. Additionally, research coordinators and research associates might need to be certified through the American Board of Clinical Chemistry (ABCC) or another organization. Certification often requires passing an exam and completing continuing education credits.

Work Environment

Research coordinators typically work in a variety of environments, depending on the type of research they’re coordinating. For example, if they’re working with clinical trials, they may spend most of their time at hospitals or medical facilities. If they’re working with market research, they may spend more time in offices and other business settings.

Research associates usually work in laboratories, where they perform experiments and analyze data. They also often work closely with researchers to help them develop new products and services for consumers.


Both research coordinators and research associates use similar skills in their jobs, such as organization, multitasking and time management. They also both need to be able to effectively communicate with other members of their team, as well as those outside of their team, such as clients or sponsors.

However, research coordinators typically need to have stronger project management skills than research associates. This is because they are often responsible for overseeing the entire research process from start to finish, which can involve coordinating multiple teams and projects at one time. They also may need to have budgeting and financial skills to help them allocate resources appropriately and stay within the confines of a project’s budget.

Research associates usually focus on conducting the research itself. This can involve designing experiments, collecting data and analyzing results. They also may be responsible for writing reports or papers about their findings. As such, they need to have strong analytical and writing skills.


Research coordinators earn an average salary of $62,030 per year, while research associates earn an average salary of $65,171 per year. Both of these salaries may vary depending on the type of research you’re doing, the size of the company you work for and the level of experience you have.


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