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Clinical Program Manager: Salary, Job Description & Duties

A clinical project manager (CPM) is a person who coordinates a medical trial of a device or medicine. The CPM works with the patients, the sponsoring organization and the clinicians. A CPM may be responsible for planning the project, its budget, the parameters of the study and the completion of paperwork before, during and after the clinical trial.

What Is a Clinical Project Manager?

A clinical project manager (CPM) is a professional who coordinates a medical clinical trial. The CPM holds a leadership position, synchronizing the efforts of the sponsor that is paying for the project and those who are participating in the project (the doctors, nurses, specialists and patients). Clinical trials test new medicines, medical equipment and in-vitro diagnostic devices.

To become a CPM, a bachelor's degree in the sciences is usually required. However, advanced degrees (like an MBA, MD or PhD) may help a person become a CPM more quickly. Those who are interested in becoming CPMs should gain on-the-job experience. A potential CPM can work as a clinical research associate or clinical team leader, for example, to gain this experience.

CPMs usually work for a clinical research organization, sometimes called a contract research organization (CRO). The CRO hires the clinical team, finds patients to undergo testing, oversees contract negotiations and sees that the proper paper work is sent once a trial has been completed. The CRO is not usually the organization that has created the medicine or device to be tested; however, some companies will oversee their own clinical tests.

Education Requirements Bachelor's degree in science and several years of experience in the field*
Job Duties Create a project plan, manage the project, assess project needs, monitor schedules, serve as a contact person for patients*
Median Pay (2019) $89,315 per year**
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 20% (all medical and health services managers)***

Sources: *Clinical Research Society; **Payscale.com; ***U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Training for a Clinical Project Manager

To become a clinical project manager, most people obtain a four-year degree in a science or health care field. Advanced degrees, like an MS, DDS, M.Pharm or MBBS (in addition to those mentioned above), could enhance your opportunities for getting a CPM position. There is also the option to earn certification, such as the Certified Clinical Project Manager credential from the Clinical Research Society, which should be renewed every two years.

Experience in this line of work should improve your chances of finding a job. For example, people working as clinical research associates, clinical data coordinators and clinical study managers will be familiar with the processes necessary to complete a successful clinical trial. This makes them more attractive as potential CPM candidates.

A person applying for a CPM position should also know how to cooperate with regulatory medical practices; for example, institutional review boards and ethics committees. Having sound financial skills, too, can be a good way to convince employers that you would be able to handle the monetary side of clinical trial work.

Required Skills

A CPM must be familiar with the biomedical field. He or she should have good writing skills, as the CPM may need to be able to write study protocols, consent forms, grants and more. The CPM will need to be able to handle conflicts or concerns with the patients, the staff and/or the sponsoring organization that are involved with the study.

Pay and Benefits of Being a CPM

As is the case with many jobs, increased experience in the field usually increases one's paycheck. Here are median yearly salaries for this position, based on length of experience. According to Payscale.com, a CPM with 0-5 years' experience received a median yearly salary of $74,263 in 2019. With 5-10 years of experience, the median salary was $90,937 per year. Those who worked for 10-20 years as a CPM received a median of $109,141 per year. Those with advanced career experience greater than 20 years earned a median of $118,433 per year.

According to Payscale.com, over 30% of CPMs have been working in the field for 5-9 years, and 32% have been in the field for 10-19 years. This is a position that can offer some long-term employment. Only 8% of CPMs reported not receiving any benefits, while most noted that they receive medical, dental and vision benefits with their work.

Fields Related to Clinical Program Management

A clinical trial involves many different medical professionals. According to Medical News Today, the team can include doctors, nurses, scientists and data managers, in addition to the clinical program manager.


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