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.
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.
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.
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.
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.