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Clinical Project Manager: Salary & Job Description

Clinical research is a growing industry with many career opportunities. This article details the salary, job information and education requirements of a clinical project manager, or CPM.

What Is a Clinical Project Manager?

A clinical project manager (CPM) supervises clinical research studies from conception until completion. CPMs lead a team of clinical professionals during the clinical trial process and create reports based on the team's findings. They prepare and track study timelines, manage budget and performance metrics, make sure that good clinical practice (GCP) and regulatory compliance are maintained, negotiate contracts with clinical research organizations (CRO) and vendors and assist in the hiring and training of all clinical staff members. CPMs have a mix of office and laboratory work environments and may travel to different trial facility locations.

Educational Requirements Bachelor's and/or master's degree in a science field
Job Skills Organization, leadership, time-management, problem-solving, written and verbal communication
Median Salary (May 2018)* $123,860 (for all natural sciences managers)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)* 10% (for all natural sciences managers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

Typically, CPMs obtain a bachelor's and/or master's degree in a science field. Pursuing a master's degree that integrates business management can prove to be very helpful, such as a Professional Science Master's (PSM), Master of Business Administration (MBA) or Master of Public Administration (MPA). A clinical research associate (CRA) certificate is not required but is another option for furthering your credentials.

Required Skills

A CPM must be very well-rounded, as they are expected to manage all aspects of a clinical research study. They must have exceptional written and verbal communication skills, as they will need to interact with a variety of professionals in the trial process, including negotiating contracts with clinical research organizations (CRO) and vendors and drafting study-related documents, such as clinical study protocols and informed consent forms. Leadership, problem-solving and time-management skills are all a must, as well. CPMs are responsible for the oversight of hiring and training, as well as overall supervision of the entire staff. Meeting deadlines is crucial in clinical research studies, so the CPM is in charge of preparing timelines, budgets and performance metrics to ensure that the team stays on track. CPMs need to be well-versed with good clinical practice (GCP) and FDA regulatory requirements and uphold the compliance of these standards.

Career Outlook and Salary

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that employment of all natural sciences managers is expected to grow 10 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) estimates that biomedical research is the largest part of the research and development (R&D) sector's contribution to GDP (gross domestic product) growth between 1998 and 2007. In biomedical research, clinical trials make up the largest percentage of commercial R&D expenses. Of the $46.4 billion spent by Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) member companies on R&D in 2010, 70 percent was directed towards clinical trials and one-third of the total 2010 fiscal year budget of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) was spent on clinical trials. Needless to say, this is a growing industry. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median salary for all natural sciences managers was $123,860 as of 2018, making this a lucrative career, as well.


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