I am a Senior CRA... How do I get into Project Management?

Comments (14)

Patricia in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

52 months ago

Hello everyone.

So far, I've progressed into clinical research the typical way:
-Nursing experience (1 year)
-Bachelor of Science in life sciences
-Clinical Research Assistant (1 year)
-Clinical Research Coordinator (CRC) (3 years)
-CRA I (1.5 years)
-CRA II (2 years)
-Senior CRA (1 year)

After I was a CRA for two years, I took the certification test to become a CCRA which helped me get promoted to CRA II. In the Spring, I'll graduate with my Master of Science degree. I don't think the Master's degree will help progress my career in clinical research as I've only met a handful of project managers that have more than a RN or BS degree, but it's something that I did for my own personal satisfaction.

Does anyone have any suggestions about how to make the next step to get into project management?

Massa in Salt Point, New York

52 months ago

I am also interested to hear from CRAs that moved on to another position. Anyone with a story they would like to share?

x in Fairfield, Connecticut

52 months ago

Yea Margaret, your comment really was not helpful nor relevant.

Massa in Bridgeview, Illinois

52 months ago

The poster is looking to go to project management, not looking for CRA jobs. This happens with me with recruiters all the time: why offer a position that you know we aren't interested in? I can't handle all this travel forever and I gotta find how to get into pm


51 months ago

Just promoted to Lead CRA recently on a couple of studies, still working as a CRA on a couple of other studies... Also looking for best way to break in to Project Management... Thank you!

Jackie Newlands in San Diego, California

48 months ago


James in Central District, Hong Kong

48 months ago

Those of you who are sick of CRA because of travel - what about being a non-clinical research project manager? That is, work in academia as a basic research manager. Also, isn't the pay for basic research coordinators pretty decent (a step below basic research project management)

Calamanzoo in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

48 months ago

The pay for a basic research coordinator at a university is about 50k less than what a Senior CRA brings in. Personally, after working in industry, I just could not sustain the pay cut to move into a university.

James in Central District, Hong Kong

48 months ago

Ah. So for the OP, would it be best to get a MS in Clinical Research at this point? Or better to just apply like crazy for project management positions?

Also - very sorry to change the subject, feel free to ignore this part.

But here's my story:
B.S. molecular biology
Worked in a government lab for 7 months

From here, how do I become a clinical research/trial assistant --> CRC --> CRA?

Do I need to get a CNA license and do nursing for a year first? Take an online course in medical terminology and/or clinical trial management?

Or should I just apply to jobs all over the country (which is scary as I'd leave all my family and friends)?

MaryBeth in Silver Spring, Maryland

48 months ago

If you are in the USA, I would not suggest to get a masters degree with the hope of progressing up a level. Very few project managers at my company have Masters degrees.

Lori in Nashville, Tennessee

48 months ago

Becoming a project manager is like being in a sorority or fraternity. It's a buddy system. Try the lead CRA role for about two year, this has been the process for several of my friends that are managers. Also Covance and ICON have associate project managers positions. Duties are very similar to Senior or Principal CRA.

good luck!

James in Central District, Hong Kong

48 months ago

Lori, could you tell me what kinds of experience the people have who you see getting hired at your work as a CR assistant? I'm trying to get a realistic shot of my chances (I applied to a position at ICON in your city last week).

Pinky in Athens, Georgia

48 months ago


The way to get into clinical research is a combination of luck, experience and "being in the right place at the right time.". Typically, CTA jobs or project assistants are the lowest of the low, the primary entry level clinical research job. All you need is a Bachelor of Science and good administrative skills. When looking at jobs, be willing to move anywhere and be able to talk intelligibly about the job.

Keep in mind, the poor economic situation has freezed hiring and people laid off from higher up positions were forced to apply for these jobs. You just can't compete with these more experienced personnel. However, the recruiter calls have been coming in like crazy lately so it looks like things are picking up. Keep trying, networking and making face-to-face contacts with people in the industry.

madhavi mishra in San Francisco, California

7 months ago

HI ,
I did my Master's in cell and Molecular biology. Past 6 years I am working as a RA and Senior RA . I am just tired of working in Lab. I wanted to change my carrier. Could anybody help me what should I do? Is certification in Project management good for me?
Please help ..

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