Do You Have to Be a Certified Clinical Research Associate to Work on Clinical Trials?

Published: Nov 27, 2009


A multitude of jobs are necessary at facilities that perform clinical trials. Most organizations use clerical and administrative staff, marketing personnel, lab technicians and trial assistants. The clinical research associate is not a licensed profession, although a certification can help set a professional apart from other job candidates. Experience working on clinical trials is required before you can earn a certificate.


A number of organizations provide certifications for clinical research, including the Society of Clinical Research Associates and the Association of Clinical Research Professionals. To earn a certified research associate (CRA) designation, applicants must have prior experience in the field as well as proof of additional training. The certifications are awarded to members of the organization who fulfill the job experience criteria and pass an examination.


A CRA is also referred to as a monitor or clinical monitor. Those with a CRA designation work for pharmaceutical companies or organizations that contract to perform clinical trials. A CRA monitors the welfare of the test subjects and makes sure that all tests follow company protocol. They analyze data and ensure that the tests are in compliance with Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations. They protect and verify all the collected information and oversee final reports.


CRA training follows industry standards that meet federal guidelines. There are a number of online programs that can provide students with the accredited training to receive the certification. Students can take the courses while working at a clinical research facility and gaining the required experience. Curriculums include learning the steps involved in drug development, regulations and business aspects of the trial process as well as evaluating the projects.

Other Jobs

Many nurses continue their education to earn a certification in clinical trials. Nurses can find a number of opportunities in facilities that perform trials while they are working towards their certification. Clinical laboratory scientists with a bachelor's degree in medical technology or one of the life sciences work in companies that perform clinical trials with certification. Other jobs in the field can be found at hospitals, through the federal government, in independent laboratories and colleges and universities.


In addition to providing the certifications for CRA designations, industry associations can provide professionals with a number of other opportunities for continuing education and career advancement through professional development courses, conferences and networking. Courses that can help land jobs with organizations that do clinical trials include the Good Clinical Practice class, webinars on emerging technology and the latest federal guidelines.

References Biotech and Pharmaceutical News & Jobs
Society of Clinical Research Associates
Association of Clinical Research Professionals
Clinical Research Training

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