Certified research assistants can have multiple roles with various responsibilities within a clinical setting. Certification is not always required to gain employment as a research assistant, but it can improve your employment prospects. To become certified, research assistants must possess a bachelor's degree in a medical field and demonstrate an understanding of the skills, professionalism, and knowledge of the field.
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Certified research assistants are responsible for organizing and coordinating clinical trials. They ensure that procedures are followed properly and that trials adhere to good clinical practices. Certified research assistants may serve as coordinators, researchers, investigators, administrators, consultants or educators. Duties may also include collecting samples from test subjects, conducting urine or blood tests, processing lab samples, coordinating and recruiting test subjects and compiling data.
|Required Education||Bachelor's degree|
|Other Requirements||Professional certification may be required by some employers|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||14% for medical and clinical laboratory technologists and technicians|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$60,520 annually for medical and clinical laboratory technologists|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
Education and Certification Requirements
Generally, a bachelor's degree in a life science or medical technology is required for entry-level work in the field of medical and clinical laboratory technology, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Certification is formal recognition that clinical research professionals have met certain requirements and have demonstrated dedication, experience and skills in the field. In order to become professionally certified, research assistants must pass a written exam offered by either the Association of Clinical Research Professionals (ACRP) or the Society of Clinical Research Associates (SoCRA). Exams test candidates' knowledge of procedures for clinical trials, as well as regulations and ethical issues. To be eligible for certification, candidates must have both experience and education. SoCRA requires certification candidates to possess a combination of formal education and work experience. ACRP asks for a minimum of two years of full-time experience.
According to a survey conducted by ACRP, possessing certification enhances professional standing and recognition by peers and supervisors and increases research assistants' overall knowledge of the job. Based on feedback from pharmaceutical companies and other clinical research professionals, clinical assistants who are certified have proven to produce work with fewer errors. They also compile results more quickly.
Salary and pay varies greatly for certified research assistants and depends on the type of work they do, as well as the organizations for which they work. Research assistants may be paid by the hour or may be salaried. Private practices and government agencies at the state and local levels paid the lowest wages, while school districts and federal government agencies paid the highest.
According to the BLS, the 2015 median annual wage for medical and clinical laboratory technologists was $60,520. The number of jobs for medical and clinical laboratory technologists and technicians is expected to increase 14% during the period from 2014 to 2024. This reflects much faster than average growth.
The work of a certified research assistant may involve collecting and processing samples, coordinating test subjects, and compiling data. To receive recognition for their work quality and experience, and to improve their overall efficiency on the job, research assistants are recommended to pursue certification by either the Association of Clinical Research Professionals or the Society of Clinical Research Associates, both of which require work experience prior to certification.