How do I Become a Clinical Research Associate?

Jill Gonzalez
Jill Gonzalez
A science background is important for most clinical research.
A science background is important for most clinical research.

In order to become a clinical research associate, you will likely need to have a bachelor's degree in a science or health discipline. In some cases, employers tend to prefer candidates who have nursing degrees or certifications, especially a registered nurse (RN) license. If at all possible, you should try to obtain some research experience while you are in school, as this can prove to be invaluable on the job.

If you are planning to apply for a clinical research associate job, you should be familiar with scientific methodologies.
If you are planning to apply for a clinical research associate job, you should be familiar with scientific methodologies.

For some positions, you may need to have at least three to five years of relevant experience. You can obtain this by working as a clinical research assistant, or by working as an intern. Internships are usually not paid, but it is sometimes possible to find those that pay a salary. It is generally easier to obtain these jobs while you are a college student, as they are not normally posted for the general public.

Organizational, time management and record keeping skills are vital for a clinical research associate.
Organizational, time management and record keeping skills are vital for a clinical research associate.

You should expect, in these positions, to be required to put in at least 40 hours of work each week. To become a clinical research associate and be successful in this job, you also need to be comfortable with the prospect of occasional travel for work. Some jobs require more travel than others, so if this is not something that appeals to you, simply try to find positions that require little or no out-of-town trips.

Clinical research associates work in clinical trials that can have a major impact on health care.
Clinical research associates work in clinical trials that can have a major impact on health care.

Applicants for these jobs typically have excellent communication skills. If you become a clinical research associate, you may need to communicate — both orally and in writing — to a wide variety of people. It is also a good idea to try to develop your problem-solving skills, as this tends to be a large component of many clinical research jobs. In addition, you might be responsible for making sound decisions that directly relate to present or future research activities.

Clinical research associates usually have several years of experience as research assistants.
Clinical research associates usually have several years of experience as research assistants.

Candidates for these types of jobs generally need to have the ability to work independently and as part of a team. If you want to become a clinical research associate, you should be flexible enough to adjust to a changing work environment. The number of people that you may be working with on any given day is likely to fluctuate, so having an even temperament is a desirable quality.

If you are planning to apply for a clinical research associate job, you should be familiar with scientific methodologies. You must also be computer literate, and proficient with a number of different software programs that might be used during the course of your work. In addition, it is usually a requirement that applicants have exceptional organization capabilities for thorough monitoring of the entire clinical research process.

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Discussion Comments

anon359301

I had a Bachelor's Degree in Biological Sciences and took a course offered through Medical Research Management called Fundamentals of Clinical Research.

Once I passed the class I felt l like I had a good grasp of GCP and how to actually monitor and I was able to get a job a few months later! The great thing about Medical Research Management is that they were the only ones to offer a classroom portion where you actually got to learn what an actual CRA does on the job. Very Helpful and I highly recommend it!

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    • A science background is important for most clinical research.
      By: japolia
      A science background is important for most clinical research.
    • If you are planning to apply for a clinical research associate job, you should be familiar with scientific methodologies.
      By: WavebreakmediaMicro
      If you are planning to apply for a clinical research associate job, you should be familiar with scientific methodologies.
    • Organizational, time management and record keeping skills are vital for a clinical research associate.
      By: Monkey Business
      Organizational, time management and record keeping skills are vital for a clinical research associate.
    • Clinical research associates work in clinical trials that can have a major impact on health care.
      By: Minerva Studio
      Clinical research associates work in clinical trials that can have a major impact on health care.
    • Clinical research associates usually have several years of experience as research assistants.
      By: Kablonk Micro
      Clinical research associates usually have several years of experience as research assistants.