Clinical Director: Job Outlook & Career Info

Find out more about what clinical directors do and how to become one. See what the education requirements are. Learn what the career prospects and earning potential are, too.

Career Definition for a Clinical Director

Clinical directors may work for contract research organizations, academic institutions, community health organizations or medical centers. A clinical director's primary responsibility is to oversee the daily operation of clinical research, health care or community health programs. Clinical directors participate in the development, implementation, and assessment of programs. They also deal with personnel, budget, and regulatory concerns. Clinical directors are accountable for the overall administration of programs, including compliance with research organization or company guidelines and state or federal laws.

Education Bachelor's degree for entry position, master's in life or medical sciences preferred
Job Skills Communication, supervision, time management, computer skills
Median Salary (2017)* $98,350 for medical and health services managers
Job Growth (2016-2026)* 20% for medical and health services managers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

Clinical directors may be able to obtain an entry-level job with a bachelor's degree, although most employers prefer their clinical directors to have a master's degree, often in life sciences or medical sciences. There are also graduate-level certificates and master's degree programs in clinical administration. Some may require professional licensing, for example, such as Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) or Registered Nurse (RN). During their studies, clinical directors can expect to learn about clinical policies and procedures, record keeping, ethics, and regulatory affairs.

Skills Required

Clinical directors should have supervisory, communication, and interpersonal skills. Other critical skills include time management, computer, leadership, and conflict resolution skills.

Career and Economic Outlook

Clinical directors enjoy a generally positive career outlook. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), medical and health services managers, including clinical directors, are expected to see employment opportunities increase by 20% from 2016-2026. The BLS also published the median annual salary for medical and health services managers as $98,350 in May 2017. Clinical directors working at general medical and surgical hospitals will likely earn more money than many of their counterparts, since the BLS indicated that medical managers at hospitals earn more money on average than managers working in other divisions of the health industry.

Alternate Career Options

Listed below are some other choices for careers in management:

Social and Community Service Manager

A social and community service manager oversees programming and delivery of services in social or human services settings. Duties may include program development and assessment, raising money, managing staff and their duties, and community outreach. Employers typically prefer candidates to have at least a bachelor's degree and some experience or a master's degree, preferably in a related field, such as public affairs or social work. According to the BLS, social and community service managers can expect jobs to increase 18% from 2016-2026; the agency also reported that this occupation paid a median salary of $64,100 in 2017.

Human Resources Manager

A human resources manager serves as a bridge between the employee and employer. Among the variety of activities they perform, human resources managers support the employee by coordinating benefits, providing training, and resolving conflicts, and they support the employer by handling regulatory compliance as needed, and taking the lead in interviewing, hiring, training, disciplining or terminating staff. It's possible to get a job with a bachelor's degree, although some employers prefer candidates with a master's degree in human resources or a related field. Work experience is also commonly desired by employers. Professional certification is available. Human resources manager jobs are predicted to grow 9% from 2016-2026, per the BLS. The BLS also reports that human resources managers were paid a median salary of $110,120 in 2017.


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