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Clinical Research Associate Career Info

Read on to learn what clinical research associates do. See what the qualifications for employment are, and get the details about job prospects and earning potential to see if this career is right for you.

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Career Definition for a Clinical Research Associate

Clinical research associates work in a laboratory setting and are involved in a wide variety of lab experiments and tasks. Their typical duties include running or assisting in the running of experiments and clinical trials, making detailed observations, interpreting and analyzing data, and forming results and conclusions. Clinical research associates may also be responsible for formulating and writing research protocols, designing data collection forms, and managing regulatory paperwork and applications.

Education Bachelor's in Medical Technology or Life Sciences
Job Skills Good communication, interpersonal skills, and attention to detail
Median Salary (2016)* $58,724
Job Outlook (2014-2024)** 16%

Sources:*Salary.com, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Educational Requirements

While the credentials needed to become a clinical research associate vary by place of employment and with the demands of specific positions, you'll likely need at least a bachelor's degree in a biomedical-related field like medical technology or life science. Typical courses in a relevant 4-year, bachelor's degree program include biology, organic chemistry, biochemistry, evaluation methods, clinical information systems, research in biomedicine, and anatomy. Clinical research associates should also have a thorough understanding of good clinical practice standards as laid out by the International Conference on Harmonisation (ICH) and applicable local regulations, www.ich.org.

Skill Requirements

Clinical research associates work as part of a team and need to have good communication and interpersonal skills. Because they are dealing with medical trials and experiments, good attention to detail and precision will help clinical research associates to be successful.

Economic and Career Outlook for Clinical Research

Clinical research associates are part of the wider U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov) category of clinical lab technologists and technicians; the employment outlook for this field is much faster than average in comparison to all career fields, with employment expected to grow 16% from 2014-2024. The median salary for clinical research associates was $58,724 as of February 2015, according to data from Salary.com.

Alternate Career Options

Other jobs similar to a clinical research associate that might appeal to you include:

Veterinary Technologist

A veterinary technologist also carries out experiments and research in a lab setting. He or she works under the supervision of a veterinarian or scientist, collecting and testing tissue and fluid samples, watching animals and reporting on their behavior, and related tasks. Veterinary technologists must have a 4-year degree in veterinary technology. State requirements for employment vary, but having to take the Veterinary Technician National Examination is common; professional certification is also available. Jobs in this field are expected to increase 19% from 2014-2024, per the BLS. The median pay earned by veterinary technologists was $31,800 in 2015, according to the BLS.

Biological Technician

A biological technician is a member of a team that conducts experiments under the direction of a senior researcher or scientist. Biological technicians use microscopes and related instruments to take measurements and observations; they analyze and report on their findings. Biological technicians usually have a bachelor's degree in biology or a related field with an emphasis on lab experience. The BLS predicts job growth of 5% for biological technicians from 2014-2024. The agency also reports that biological technicians earned a median salary of $41,650 in 2015.

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