What is a Clinical Research Associate?
A clinical research associate also known as a CRA or a trial monitor or clinical one, is one of the health care professional who performs many of the duties or activities that are related to the medical field of research especially the clinical trials.
The main responsibility of these professionals is to set up, monitor and complete the clinical trials that are usually related to the risks, effects, and benefits of the existing medicines or the new that just developed.
Job Description of a Clinical Research Associate
A clinical research associate or a CRA is one of the professionals who has the main duty among other tasks to assist in the clinical research process. He will provide others with advanced technical expertise in tasks such as ordering tests, handle the supplies, collecting results as well as present certain specific research information to the public. These professionals also deal with a lot of other administrative tasks.
A CRA in order to perform his or her job well, has to possess certain skills such as being a good organizer, and pay attention to all the details when a research is being conducted. The proper attitude comes forward by using investigating methods in environments such as a clinic or a health care facility. There are also other skills that play a vital role when it comes to this job such as having great communicational skills that will lead to a clear and accurate development of strong business relationships.
Their work might be conducted on a team basis that will assume reaching in time to established goals, even under deadlines, or it will assume working on their own with some minimum supervision. A CRA has to have developed great electronic communicational skills as well as the ability to use current technology. The preparedness includes details such as being able to log research information to a computer and fill out documents, data, applications or other detailed reports based on their findings.
The daily duties of a clinical research associate involve an evaluation of drugs, pesticides, gasses microorganisms and parasites at different levels. These experts also need to investigate life cycles of parasites, or the cause, progress, and mode of transmission when it comes to diseases or even parasites. These professionals will also deal with the study of cells structure, analyze the organs, the tissue or the cell samples in order to identify the bacteria, toxicology or the present microorganisms.
Their job assumes also to conduct research that will develop the necessary instrumentation, the necessary methodology and the procedures that are required for the medical applications in presenting data and analyzing the findings as well as directing studies that involve the investigation of human and animal diseases.
How to Become a Clinical Research Associate?
If you really want to become a CRA then after deciding that this is the career path for you, try to find out more about the requirements needed that will allow you to fulfill your dream. The educational requirements for an entry level as a clinical research associate will involve an undergraduate degree in life sciences, or nursing or even medical sciences, find the one that will suit you the most.
Then it will be recommended that you’ll possess as well a graduate degree that will allow you to advance to the positions up to the senior level positions where the salary granted is higher. A graduate degree will lead you on a higher scale then the majority of candidates that do not possess this kind of degree, and you will have a clear advantage.
Sometimes you might find that there is a slight chance of breaking into this field from the administrative side without any formal education, in the areas mentioned above. However, to achieve that, it will require from your side that you possess a great amount of administrative experience in the clinical research and possibly you’ll need additional qualifications.
In order to become a good CRA, you’ll need a set of skills that will allow you to move into other positions. Also, if you like the responsibility part, then you can choose positions with more responsibilities but with a higher paying salary. Those skills besides the ones that were mentioned earlier involve being able to design and formulate a clinical development plan, have knowledge about the health care systems. The knowledge required mostly involves the legislation of the health care systems, the practices as well as the procedures for the development of health care products.
The training offered to become a CRA can be found in universities or colleges through a training program that will definitely increase your chances of getting into clinical research. Try to find one training program that has accreditation and that is well suited for you. Since time is precious, you can even find training programs online that will grant you the same steps as one that is offline, with some differences. These clinical research training programs might include certificates in clinical research as well as a postgraduate degree.
There is a certain career progression when it comes to clinical research. For instance, the starting level as CRA or else known as CRA I involves 1 and up to 2 years of activity in the field. Such experience involves working on various parts of clinical trial such as site correspondence or document preparation. The middle level is known as CRA II, and this will assume between 3 and up to 5 years of experience in the profession. CRA II is expected to work on all the stages of a clinical trial. Your job functions will range in this stage from site selection, clinical trial design and required protocol, and up to clinical report generation.
The last one is known as senior CRA or Lead CRA, or CRA III the length estimation is with 5 or even more years of experience. For a senior CRA, it will assume on their part to be able to perform any of the clinical trial duties with proficiency. Your job duties will also involve being able to mentor, prepare and supervise other junior CRA.
Work Environment and Schedule
When it comes to the work environment, a CRA will be found in setting such as laboratories or work offices. The daily duties will require on his or her part being able to stay on their feet for long periods of time. This job will also assume being highly skilled in areas such as research and when it comes to using research tools and equipment. Since equipment is involved, you need also to provide right and accurate maintenance and cleaning even when they are not in use.
The working conditions and hours of work will vary a lot according to the company of the industry that hired these professionals, but the schedule that is introduced on a regular basis involves from Monday up until Friday. There are still situations when these professionals have to be present at work in the evenings, or very rarely on weekends.
Pros and Cons of Being a Clinical Research Associate
The best reward when it comes to a career as a clinical research associate comes from the clinical trials and the improvement that you bring. Working as a CRA can sometimes be very stressful due to various deadlines, and also due to a series of unexpected events or situations that can come up in different phases of clinical trials.
The career progression through all the stages of CRA can be a process that will differ from company to company, but with a right attitude, motivation and progress one can be able to be pursuit in the same company.
The con that usually is present in this job is the long hours of standing on your feet when you are working. You really need to be prepared for this job since many times it will mean the same routine to go through.
Clinical Research Associate job growth
The employment growth for all the clinical and medical laboratory technicians is predicted at 18% rate of increase, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This classification is quite similar to the CRA profession.
The work opportunities are very good in this field, these professionals being able to get hired in a variety of settings such as government agencies, pharmaceutical companies, academic institutions and other facilities as well. There was also reported a great job satisfaction with a lot of security and stability.
Clinical Research Associate Salary
In the United States, the clinical research associate salary has a median average usually estimated at $60,010 per year. The compensation in this field is affected by factors such as the experience level, the location in which one of these professionals is working. Another influence comes from the industry or the company for which he or she is working.
Based on a large number of surveys the average clinical research associate salary in this profession is comprised between $40,957 per year and up to $83,476 per year. To this wage, you can add benefits such as profit sharing and bonuses. A Bonus in this field can be estimated to go up to $6,164 per year while the profit sharing is estimated to be from $1,229 and go up to $5,910 per year. This will point in the end to a total wage that will vary from $39,251 per year and up to $86,242 per year.
According to the industry that hired these professionals those that are working at St. Jude Medical, Inc. can expect to take home a median salary that is estimated at about $79,010 per year while those who work at PRA Internationals will take home a salary that reaches a median average of about $72,010 per year.
The years of experience in the field show that more experience you have on the working setting will not get you to a higher wage. Those who just started can beneficiate of a salary that can reach up to $64,010 per year. At the same time, those who already have more than five years of work can get only an income estimated at $58,010 per year.
After 15 years of experience you can expect to gain an average salary of about $71,010 per year while only after 20 years of experience in the field or even more you can expect at a higher median income that is estimated at about $85,010 per year.
Salary of a Clinical Research Associate in 2015
In 2015, in the United States the salary of a clinical research associate is influenced mainly by the same factors as the earlier years. Working in this field show that the female percentage is a lot higher in this career than the male percentage. Another factor that will definitely influence the salary is based on each state, and based on the metropolitan areas.
Those working in an urban area are gaining a higher income than those working in a rural area. A CRA will earn a higher than the average salary in San Francisco or Minneapolis while those professionals that are located in Chicago or New York will have an estimated income that is below the median average.
Clinical Research Associate Salary in 2016
For the year 2016, in the US, the average median income of a clinical research associate or else known as a CRA, is estimated to reach at $61,178 per year. The starting point average for these professionals is estimated from $42,327 per year and up to $85,738 per year, according to the salary data survey offered by PayScale. The bonus that is granted reaches at $6,959, while the profit sharing is comprised between $402.69 and up to $6,954.
The main factors that impact the salaries of these professionals are the industry, company size, geographical location as well as years of experience. The vast majority of individuals who work as clinical research associates are females rather than males. High paid skills that are associated with great earnings in this profession are Oncology, Project Management, and Clinical Research.
When it comes to the years of experience in the field, the earnings tend to have various values and even increase as one individual gains more practice and knowledge over the years. An entry-level clinical research associate, with less than five years of experience in the field can expect to make around $59,010 per year, while one professional that has between 5 and up to 10 years of work practice will gain around $67,010 per year.
An experienced clinical research associate, with 10 and up to 20 years of experience will take home around $72,010 per year, while the late-career professionals, with more than 20 years of development and knowledge in this work setting gain around $86,010 per year. The income varies also according to each state, area or city, being influenced by the costs of living and the living expenses found in that particular area.
The national average payment in the US, for this profession reaches at $60,962 per year. High paid earnings can be found in regions such as San Francisco, with total median payments that get around $74,785 per year, followed by Huston, with $70,326 per year and Los Angeles with a median average that sums up to $62,123 per year.
On the other side, there are also locations where the incomes in this profession are above the national average, with earnings that reach at $58,557 per year in Chicago and $51,892 per year in areas such as Cincinnati.
According to Indeed.com, the average income that is gained by a clinical research associate reaches at $62,010 per year, while according to Salary.com, the annual median average income for these professionals reaches at $58,726 per year, having a range that is usually comprised between $51,756 per year and $63,037 per year.
Clinical Research Associate Salary in Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom
- In Canada, the average median salary for a CRA is estimated to be at about C$56,557 per year. In this field, the years of experience gained have a very moderate effect. The average clinical research associate salary in Canada has a lower point that will start from C$38,585 per year and increase up to C$78,492 per year. You can add to this a bonus estimated to reach at about C$4,987 per year this leading to a total payment estimated from C$35,673 per year and up to C$79,751 per year.
- In Australia the salary estimation of a CRA will reach at about AU$74,560 per year, this will also differ according to your position and the type of industry that hired you. Those with an entry level on a CRA position will take home a clinical research associate salary in Australia estimated at AU$61,520 per year.
- In UK, the starting salary for a working position as a CRA has an added estimation between £22,010 and £28,010 per year. Working as a senior CRA or as a Senior CRA II could lead you to a salary estimated to range between £30,010 per year and £40,010 per year. In some positions or roles, you can even expect to a clinical research associate salary in the United Kingdom as high as £60,010 per year or even higher. Additional bonuses and benefits such as car allowance are offered in this job.
Conclusion on Clinical Research Associate Salary
A clinical research associate salary might by influenced a lot based on the number of demanding but also based on a majority of factors that have a great impact when it comes to the economic flux. The salaries of these professionals may vary according to their positions, the tasks that they have to fulfill and according to each state.