Becoming a Clinical Research Associate

Clinical Research Associates are involved in a wide variety of laboratory experiments during clinical trials. They are responsible for setting up, initiating, monitoring and completing clinical trials related to the benefits, effects and risks of new and existing medicines. Clinical trials may also be carried out on different stages such as trials on healthy humans, trials on patients, and trials on newly made medicines to monitor its safety and side effects.

Their other duties include presenting trial protocols to a steering committee; coordinating with the ethics committee, which safeguards the rights, safety and well-being of all trial subjects; ensuring all trial supplies are accounted for and discussing the results of testing with medical statisticians.

Clinical Research Associates work in varieties of environments such as scientific and development laboratories, pharmaceutical companies, medical research institutes, government agencies etc. They usually work for full time but may require traveling in some cases.                          

Educational Requirements

To become a Clinical Research Associate, the aspiring candidates need to complete at least a 4-year bachelor’s degree in a biomedical-related field like medical technology or life science. However, many employers often prefer the job aspirants with a two-year master’s degree in related field in science.

The syllabus includes anatomy, biology, biomedical science, chemistry, pharmacology, toxicology, clinical information etc. They should also have a great deal of understanding in good clinical practice standards as laid out by the International Conference on Harmonization (ICH).


Clinical Research Associates  can obtain exam-based certification from the Association of Clinical Research Professionals or Society of Clinical Research Associates.

Skill Set

Clinical Research Associates possess various traits such as high level of attention to detail, excellent time management and organizational skills, problem solving and decision making abilities, strong leadership quality, ability to build effective relationships with trial center’s staff members and business initiatives, competent in computer operations, effective verbal and written communication skills etc.

Job Outlook and Salary

The job outlook for a Clinical Research Associate remains excellent across the USA. According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the growth rate for job opportunities in this profession may rise 22% during 2012-2022. The average annual salary of a Clinical Research Associate was $59,734 in 2014.