Getting a new medication into circulation takes a lot of time and energy, and a large part of the responsibility falls to clinical research coordinators. These medical professionals are tasked with recruiting and screening potential participants for clinical trials. Depending on the study, they may also dispense medications, schedule tests, collect research data, and maintain the integrity of the trial.
In its Fall 2002 “Occupational Outlook Quarterly,” the Bureau of Labor Statistics compared clinical research coordinators with medical and clinical laboratory techs, owing largely to the overlap in many of their duties. As of 2012, lab technologists averaged $58,640 a year. The Mayo School of Health Sciences provides a range of earnings specifically for clinical research coordinators. Entry-level clinical research coordinators averaged $37,000 annually, while senior coordinators earned closer to $68,000.
Employers typically seek candidates with a bachelor of science degree, but it is becoming more common for coordinators to possess a master’s degree. Many candidates have degrees in either medical technology or one of the life sciences. Some universities also offer medical laboratory and clinical research coordination programs. Clinical experience in medical research, nursing, or pharmaceuticals is necessary as well. Many hospitals, pharmaceutical companies and other health care facilities offer internships in clinical research, which can provide practical experience in the field.
Though optional, professional certifications often make it easier to demonstrate your skills and knowledge in clinical research and land a job. The Association of Clinical Research Professionals offers two designations in this field: Certified Clinical Research Associate (CRA) and Certified Clinical Research Coordinator (CRC). Prerequisites for certification include either 1,500 hours of related work experience, or 216 contact hours completed through a clinical research education program.
Employment opportunities for clinical research coordinators should compare to those of medical and clinical laboratory technologists. Through 2020, the BLS expects employment opportunities to grow by 11 percent. This is much slower than the average growth rate for all U.S. occupations, a projected 14 percent.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Quarterly – Fall 2002
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technologists
- Mayo School of Health Sciences: Clinical Research
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook – Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians
- Association of Clinical Research Professionals
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