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What does a Clinical Research Associate do?

Clinical trials test treatments that help improve and save lives.  Clinical Research Associates perform various functions in ensuring clinical trials conform to and are performed in compliance with the protocol, regulatory and ethical guidelines and Good Clinical Practices (GCPs). CRAs monitor the conduct at investigative sites in the field (on-site) and/or remotely (in-house or centrally) by reviewing documents and data generated by the investigative site. CRAs often serve as the primary liaison between the sponsor (pharmaceutical companies) of the trial and the investigative site (doctors’ offices).*.

A CRA is responsible for the management of assigned clinical trials from study start to close out. Duties will include analysis of potential subject recruitment, investigator recruitment and selection, conducting site initiation meetings, assisting with the preparation of protocols, creating informed consent forms, electronic data capture (EDC) testing, organizing Institutional Review Board  and/or electronic consent  submissions with follow through to ensure successful outcomes, monitoring clinical data, trial master file, maintenance, and related deliverables.

*ACRP website

Am I working in a lab?

No, in fact, many CRAs work remotely and travel to the investigational site where the research study is being conducted by an investigator.  You will be working with doctors and nurses in professional environments.

Do I get to travel?

Potentially yes.  There are opportunities to travel for clinical operation roles where you would visit clinical investigator sites and attend investigator meetings (as opposed to in-house roles).  As the CRA, you are the “face of a study” for a clinical site. Most field operation team members work remotely from their home office. They travel to clinical sites on a regular basis for monitoring and site support.  The field CRA is also responsible for conducting pre-study visits, site initiation visits and study close-out visits.

Who would hire me?

Opportunities for CRAs exist at Clinical Research Organizations (CRO), pharmaceutical or biotechnology companies, a university, hospital research center, or independent research firms contracted to test an investigational product in a clinical trial with human participants.

What’s the average salary for a CRA?

Compensation can vary based on experience and geography but on average salaries can start at USD$50,000 and above.

In what cities are the jobs located?

All over the globe!  Clinical Research is conducted worldwide and professionals are needed where the research is being conducted. Where you train, does not necessarily need to be where you get hired.

Do I need a degree to be a CRA?

Most clinical research associate positions require candidate to have a bachelor’s degree in life sciences or a health-related field.

What’s next after CRA? Is there potential for career growth?

Absolutely!  With increasing experience, a CRA career track can progress to senior CRA, Clinical Trial Manager, Clinical Trial Director level positions and more!  Future roles could include project management or clinical team leadership.

What if I don’t have any experience, can I still do this job?

Yes, you can.  With the right training and ViRB’s community of support, you’re on the path to a lucrative career in the life sciences/clinical research industry.  Want to learn more, join ViRB!

How long is the training to prepare me to be a CRA?

Training requirements may vary by client; however, ViRB can prepare you within six to eight weeks.

Is there a demand for the CRA position?

Yes!  CRA positons are part of the “hidden job market.” and the demand continues to increase year-over-year. Clinical trials are often delayed due to the lack of available resources and pipelines to fill this role.