Clinical Research Associate Career Path

Are you thinking of becoming a Clinical Research Associate or already started your career and planning the next step? Learn how to become a Clinical Research Associate, what skills you need to succeed, how to advance your career and get promoted, and what levels of pay to expect at each step on your career path. Explore new Clinical Research Associate job openings and options for career transitions into related roles.

How To Become a Clinical Research Associate

If you love making discoveries, a clinical research associate may turn out to be your dream job. This role monitors the progress of ongoing clinical trials. Find out how to become a clinical research associate with these steps:
Contents

1

Get a feel for this role's responsibilities.

A clinical research associate is involved in all stages of the trial. Managing these projects can be challenging. That's why people in this role must possess excellent project management skills, in addition to a variety of other traits. To properly execute its myriad of job responsibilities, you should possess:

  • Excellent oral and written communication skills.
  • Attention to detail.
  • Analytical aptitude.
  • Organizational and time management skills.
  • Computer and tech-savvy.
  • Flexibility.
  • Ability to multi-task.
  • Ability to think on your feet.

2

Examine your education.

There are numerous pathways to becoming a clinical research associate. A formal education isn't required to enter the field. Anyone with a high school education or higher can find employment with a focus on administrative duties. However, if you want to advance your career, earning a bachelor's degree or higher — with specific courses in clinical research — can make you a much more competitive candidate.

What type of degree should you pursue to become a Clinical Research Associate?

83% of people working as a Clinical Research Associate earned a Bachelor's Degree

What skills do you need to be a Clinical Research Associate?

  • Pox
  • Leadership
  • Team Work
  • Excellent Communication
  • PharmD
  • Clarify
  • Word Processing
  • Collaboration
Based on resume data from Glassdoor users who reported working as a Clinical Research Associate in the United States.

3

Earn an advanced degree.

Now that you've chosen to pursue your degree, most high-level clinical research associate positions require a bachelor's or a master's in a healthcare-related field. However, if you're interested in becoming a management-level clinical research associate, attend a four-year college in an area of study such as:

  • Nursing.
  • Health sciences.
  • Biological sciences.
  • Clinical research.
  • Clinical research administration.
  • Clinical research management.
  • Medical technology.
  • Life sciences.

If you're serious about this outstanding career opportunity, ensure you also receive training in at least one of the following subjects too:

  • Anatomy.
  • Pharmacology.
  • Biology.
  • Biochemistry.
  • Immunology.
  • Chemistry.
  • Microbiology.
  • Toxicology.
  • Physiology.

4

Obtain industry certifications.

While most employers don't require you to obtain industry certifications, having this document will help you stand out from other applicants and may even land you a lucrative position. The Society of Clinical Research Associates (SOCRA) or the Association of Clinical Research Professionals (ACRP) offer courses that can help produce more employment opportunities.

To qualify for the certification exams, you must hold a bachelor's degree, and both organizations require continuing education to maintain your active status. SOCRA requires recipients to recertify once every three years, while ACRP-certified clinical research associates must report 24 contact hours every two years. You can also bypass the hours and opt to take the current Certification exam.

5

Get plenty of field experience.

Because many entry-level clinical research associate positions require candidates with previous work in the field, undergraduate students can earn practical experience by seeking:

  • Internships.
  • Study volunteer opportunities.
  • Part-time administrative or clerical work.
  • Fellowships involving research participation.

Seniority Levels

L2

Clinical Research Associate

8+Years of Experience
$102,060 /yrTotal Pay
Learn More
80% advanced to

L3

Senior Clinical Research Associate

2 - 4Years of Experience
$117,404 /yrTotal Pay
Learn More

L4

Lead Clinical Research Associate

5 - 7Years of Experience
$104,155 /yrTotal Pay
Learn More

Total Pay Trajectory

Clinical Research Associate Career Path

$150K
$135K
$120K
$105K
$90K
L2
L4
Seniority Levels

Related Careers in the Research & Science Industry

Interested in other Research & Science careers? Below are occupations that have high affinity with Clinical Research Associate skills. Discover some of the most common Clinical Research Associate career transitions, along with skills overlap.