Degree Programs for an Aspiring Clinical Research Associate

Clinical research associates support the clinical trial process. In addition to associate's degree studies, experience through internships or by working as assistants is often required. Coursework is science-intensive and teaches data-gathering and subject-recruitment techniques.

Essential Information

Those who choose this career are expected to communicate with patients and health professionals in order to maintain effective and safe clinical trials and document results in a manner consistent with industry standards. There are no specific educational prerequisites beyond a university degree. In approximately two years, students can earn their Associate of Science or Associate of Applied Science. Certification in the field is available, and the program might serve as preparation for certification. Common prerequisites include a high school diploma or GED.


Associate's Degree Programs in Clinical Research

Students are introduced to a variety of subjects designed to help them successfully handle the diverse challenges of this occupation. Typical coursework includes:

  • Human anatomy
  • Medical ethics
  • Research writing
  • Clinical trial management
  • Medical terminology
  • Patient legal concerns

Employment Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not issue data specific to clinical research associates. However, clinical laboratory technicians and technologists have similar job duties and salary statistics for those careers can be used as a guideline. The BLS estimated that medical and clinical laboratory technologists and technicians are expected to have 14% and 18% job growth, for the 2014-2014 period, respectively. In 2015, the BLS reported that technologists earned a mean annual wage of $61,860. In that same year, medical and clinical laboratory technicians earned $41,420 as a yearly mean wage.

Certification and Continuing Education Information

Many employers require clinical research associate candidates to have a minimum of three years' experience in addition to an associate's degree. To achieve this, many graduates work as research aides or pursue internship opportunities. For those wishing to continue their education, bachelor's and master's degrees are available.

If desired, students can receive certification from the Association of Clinical Research Professionals to demonstrate that they have met eligibility and educational requirements. Qualification to become certified is flexible; for example, those without a postsecondary degree must have twice the amount of experience as those with one. Competency is evaluated with a written exam, and certification must be renewed every two years.

Aspiring clinical research associate's can undertake a degree program at the associate's level. Common courses, such as human anatomy and medical ethics, prepare graduates for a career within the field.


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