Career path following a CRA

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Comments (23)

Robert in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

65 months ago

Manowar,

Unfortunately, in the states, these 'certification courses' are typically scams. Their 'certifications' are NOT recognized by the industry and none can guarantee a job. I've been a CRA for 5 years now and have never met anyone who has successfully found employment as a CRA after they shell out thousands for the often unaccredited courses.

Getting a degree from an accredited university is a good idea (you can get student aid from the gov't, tuition reimbursement from your employer and the credits are transferable if you want to change your major), but I would say this would be better for someone who already has a job in research and wants to move up, instead of someone who is just looking for a job.

Passionate,

The best way to get your start is to take an entry level position. A BS is fine, especially if you emphasize your research experience. Look for CTA positions, data entry, etc. at your local universities, hospitals and research offices. Get a job there, then use tuition reimbursement from your employer to beef up your credentials. Have them pay for your Master's in Clinical Research and get certified through a legitimate professional organization like ACRP.

Also, don't be looking in just your area- the economy is coming back, but it's still not great yet. You will often have to make sacrifices.

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Randy in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

56 months ago

Amita ,JERSEY CITY,NJ in Jersey City, New Jersey said: hi I am just fresher and starting a new field in CRA. I have completed pharmacy in INDIA and did certification in CRA. Can any one help me to where should I step in this field. I am trying like more than 6 month but there is no response. I am getting response from agency which offer me training for 650$. They dont give promise to get a job. Do any one know this type of any agency which help or should I join? Thank u every one for posting.

Hi Amita,

I do not recommend getting any more training. You already have certification in India, you do not need any more training.

I think you are looking at the wrong job. In the USA, you cannot start in clinical research with a CRA position. It is required that you have several years of clinical trial experience before applying for your first CRA job. No education, training or certification will allow you to skip the required years of previous clinical trial work experience.

There are many training scams out there, many of them try to take advantage of foreigners looking for jobs. If I ever recommend any courses to foreigners looking for a job, it is English language training because impeccable written communication skills are absolutely necessary. For example, if you used some of the prose errors you made in your post in your cover letter, I would throw out your resume as soon as I encountered one of those language errors.

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Wannesia@gmail.com

53 months ago

I am completing Assoc. Degree, Certificate I, Certificate II in May. I will continue to complete Data Management Cert. My background is Clerical data entry, Nursing assistant, Mental health, and I am registered with the state as a Medical Assistant. My life situation is keeping me from continuing to do BS or Masters in any field; which would be beneficial, but my life situation is not allowing me to continue with that path. I have no experience in clinical trials research outside of fieldwork for college. Does anyone have any suggestions?

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narasi in Thiruvananthapuram, India

47 months ago

Dear all,
Any one please guide me. I done my M.Sc in biotechnology (2009). I learned Base SAS and advance SAS from one real time working professional. Currently i'm working in one private hospital as a stem cell coordinator since 1 1/2 years for 10,000 salary. My job profiles are maintain trials data in MS Excel sheet, giving counseling to patients, Coordinate with doctors and paramedical staff during trial. Now i want to migrate to real clinical trial sector. Based on my experience which role suit for me. What about career growth and what salary i can expect. Please give me your ideas.
Thanks in advance

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Swangirl89 in Baden, Germany

47 months ago

Manowar2002B in Odenspiel, Germany said: Your best bet is to do some type of certification course. I would say, that if you have a natural science degree, biology, etc., that you should be ok entering some type of clinical research (CRA for ex.) certification course. I am currently doing one in Germany. I am American, but studied here, and feel that starting out as a CRA may be better here in Europe. The Clinical Trial process runs more smoothly here. The FDA can be problematic. But finally, you want to find a certification cours that also involves an internship, which will ultimately get your foot in the door.
I would not recommend a clinical research degree. I havent heard anything great about them, especially involving any type of entry into the industry.

good luck


I'm in Stuttgart looking to don the same thing. I have a Bachelors in physiology. What is the certification course you have taken?

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narasi in Thiruvananthapuram, India

47 months ago

Thank you for your reply. Is sas certification is useful to enter into clinical data management. If not which software companies are using. Generaly what are the major roles involved in clinical trials. What is growth of CDM when compare with CRA.
Thanks in advance

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Sonya in Westfield, New Jersey

47 months ago

I found this on craigslist as CRA training in 12 months.

It's the American Scientific Research asrnj.com/

looks like a scam for sure. Glad I came across this forum.

Thanks guys -- I am unemployed for months now and I really hate this misleading ads to scam individuals who are serious in finding a job or a new career.

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DC804 in New York, New York

41 months ago

SwissHam in Fulton, Ohio said: Hi Jay,

Not a problem. Entering project management is very different from company to company and even more different between Pharma vs. CRO. If you are at a CRO, you will most likely have to be a CRA first... this may not necessarily be true all the time, but one of my collegues came to the CRO where I currently work with Pharma experience as a project manager and needed to become a CRA first before she could be a project manager at the CRO. One major reason for this is because CROs need to sell the people they want to put on to the project to sponsor. If you are in a pharma company, it is not always this way, as they have their in-house positions that move up to project managers without that on-site experience.

I would personally say your best bet really is to get the CRA experience... It really is a great experience to have and you are able to say you know the inner workings at a site that others may not. It gives you a great base to move forward, and if you get 2+ years (absolute min. 1 year), you will always be able to get another CRA job if for some reason you fall in to hard times. Also, if you move up in a Pharma company as an in-house position, but never have that on-site experience, and are ever let go or want to go elsewhere, you are really limited where you can go as you only have that in house expereince. Since the CRA position combines the in house management with the on-site experience, you really open up all of your options.

Hope this helps!
good luck,
Chris

Hi Chris,

I am currently a hosptial based CRC- run all the trials within the hematology/oncology trials- both industry sponsored and PI initiated. I am looking to transitioning into industry and specifically looking into project management positions. Do you think this transition is possibl, without having industry CRA monitoring experience? I am also CCRA certified and have my Masters degree. Please let me know your thoughts!

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Mather in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

41 months ago

Hi DC804,

Unless you have significant project management experience from a similar industry, a CRO will not hire anyone into a management role without CRA experience. My though is that if you are leading a group of CRAs, it's really best that you know what the job involves.

For example: How will you know what makes a good monitoring report without ever having to write one? The CRA role requires significant travel, in just the site assignment process, you have to know if it's even possible for a CRA that lives in Denver to get to Wichita via air for their normal workday. How will you handle your stressed-out overtraveled CRAs when you know nothing about what life is like being on the road four days a week? How will you know which vendors are out there and which ones offer the best service?

With your oncology experience, you are very much in demand- I'd try to get that first CRA role and then work on the PM transition.

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Mandy in Singapore, Singapore

41 months ago

Hi, I am a foreign medical graduate with PhD in Biomedical Engineering. I have 1 year Clinical Experience in Infectious Diseases. I would like to go into clinical research but I don't want to do the bench work. I would like to work full time CRA position. Can you please give me some advice?
Thank you very much in advance.

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Mandy in Singapore, Singapore

41 months ago

Hi, I am a foreign medical graduate with PhD in Biomedical Engineering. I have 1 year Clinical Experience in Infectious Diseases. I would like to go into clinical research but I don't want to do the bench work. I would like to work full time CRA position. Can you please give me some advice?
Thank you very much in advance.

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tinys225@gmail.com in Plainfield, New Jersey

33 months ago

hi all..plz reply me to this question
i completed biomedical engineering from india .Right now i am in new jersey..will i be able to get any job...or i should go for higher studies? if so what course should i take? Can i go for some certificate programs like drug safety and pharmacovigilance

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PJ in Bronx, New York

33 months ago

Can you be more clear? What type of jobs are you interested in?

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nam81 in White Plains, New York

32 months ago

Mather in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania said: Hi DC804,

Unless you have significant project management experience from a similar industry, a CRO will not hire anyone into a management role without CRA experience. My though is that if you are leading a group of CRAs, it's really best that you know what the job involves.

For example: How will you know what makes a good monitoring report without ever having to write one? The CRA role requires significant travel, in just the site assignment process, you have to know if it's even possible for a CRA that lives in Denver to get to Wichita via air for their normal workday. How will you handle your stressed-out overtraveled CRAs when you know nothing about what life is like being on the road four days a week? How will you know which vendors are out there and which ones offer the best service?

With your oncology experience, you are very much in demand- I'd try to get that first CRA role and then work on the PM transition.

@ Mather,
I've MS in Mol Bio and MPH in Epidemiology and am looking for the career in clinical research. I've been applying to many places via modzilla, careerbuilder, monster but no response since I'm lacking an experience. I don't want to do any certificate in clinical research since they're all scam. So, where should I start from to gain an experience. Also, can you please elaborate what are duties and responsibilities of CRA and PM? Thanks.

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Mather

32 months ago

Hi Nam,

I would suggest that you concentrate your initial search on academic medical centers. Epidemiological and Molecular studies are not very common for the CROs, so academia seems like a better fit. I would suggest to begin your career in coordinating before you try to move onto CRA roles.

Basic Roles:
CRC: Good starting point for people who are interested in clinical research- they actually does "hands on" research activities where the research is being conducted under the supervision of a PI. For example, consenting subjects, organizing schedules of patients/doctors, assembling and submitting data, regulatory, budget, etc. They may have a team of several research assistants or nurses that work with them or they could do it all themselves.

CRA (also called a monitor): a job that requires at least two years work experience in research (I.e., as a CRC, CTA, data management or regulatory/documentation specialist). No degree or training program will give you that work experience to become a competitive entry-level CRA applicant, so it's not a career for someone new to the industry. Monitors travel to the places where CRCs and PIs work to monitor their study conduct.

PM (also called CTM): a job that requires at least 5 years of CRA experience or other significant project management experience. They manage a group of CRAs, data managers and work with other department heads (biostatisticians, regulatory, and scientific teams). They manage budgets often in excess of $1 million and teams of over 10 employees.

I trust that you will do your own research for a more robust description of each role.

Just to point out, I noticed several grammatical issues in your post. Flawless English language skills are essential in clinical research because we have so much documentation and communication to do. Science skills/knowledge really come second to communication skills in this industry.

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Carol in Pompano Beach, Florida

31 months ago

Hello Mather,

I am considering the posibility of doing some contract work. What are the Pros and Cons. Do some contract positions qualify for per diem?

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Carol in Pompano Beach, Florida

31 months ago

When searching for contract work, is it preferable to go through a consulting agency or deal directly with the company.

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Mather in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

30 months ago

Hi TJ,

2 years experience is all you need to get a job. No additional training is required - in fact I caution you about it because many people have created scam companies to get money, especially from immigrants. Of course, more work experience is always better. Extra education is not really valued at your stage in your career.

Your biggest obstacle will be visa requirements. With unemployment so high in the US, there are many equally qualified applicants who don't need all the extra burdens of visa sponsorship so finding a job tends to be very difficult. It is not an easy life.

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Meg in San Antonio, Texas

26 months ago

Howdy! I have an MS in Biology and about 2 years experience as Research Assistant. I would like to know the following,

1. Does anyone think companies will offer a CRA position for a fresher like me in this field? I only have experience in wet labs but nothing so far on the clinical side.Will any recommendations be helpful for the same?

2. Do I need to be a CRA in order to be eligible to get CRA certification from ACRP?

3. If not, then will having a certification enhance my prospects of landing an entry level CRA position?

Looking forward to hearing your valuable insights on this topic!

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Mather in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

26 months ago

1. Anything's possible- but New CRAs typically need clinical research experience working on trials with human subjects in some capacity. The CRA job is not a position for people new to clinical research.

2. Yes, you must have two years of full time work experience to qualify to sit for any certification exam.

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Maripa in Boston, Massachusetts

25 months ago

Mather, I am a bit lost and would really appreciate your advise. I have Master Degree in Biotechnology and have been employed by the academic research institution in the capacity of PM for the last 5 years. Recently, I have been wanting to make a move to the pharma industry. I have sent hundreds of resumes and applied for PM (or project lead) positions with no luck. I was then told by a recruiter that my experience in the hospital (site) setting would not be enough and I would have to become a CRA first, I would then need to in that position for 2 years and can them move up the ladder. Well, little did I know that I would be getting an offer for a Sr CRA position. I am torn now...do I go for it or do i keep looking for a PM position. I have people whispering in both ears-some say that if I take a step down, it will take me a while to come back up; others say that in order to go up, I have to come down first. what gives? I am so lost I do not know what to do.. And by the way, this job offer was through a connection and I have not gotten any other offers at all...not even an interview.

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Lorie France in Saint-contest, Quebec

25 months ago

Maripa in Boston, Massachusetts said: Mather, I am a bit lost and would really appreciate your advise. I have Master Degree in Biotechnology and have been employed by the academic research institution in the capacity of PM for the last 5 years. Recently, I have been wanting to make a move to the pharma industry. I have sent hundreds of resumes and applied for PM (or project lead) positions with no luck. I was then told by a recruiter that my experience in the hospital (site) setting would not be enough and I would have to become a CRA first, I would then need to in that position for 2 years and can them move up the ladder. Well, little did I know that I would be getting an offer for a Sr CRA position. I am torn now...do I go for it or do i keep looking for a PM position. I have people whispering in both ears-some say that if I take a step down, it will take me a while to come back up; others say that in order to go up, I have to come down first. what gives? I am so lost I do not know what to do.. And by the way, this job offer was through a connection and I have not gotten any other offers at all...not even an interview.

Hi Maripa,

I am in France now and I am preparing to move to canada ( especially in Montreal ). I have a master's degree in public health and 4 years expeience as a CRC and Lead CRA in academic enviroement. I am currently regestred in a CRP certificate with CRA-School in montreal for online course.
I read several input and feed back from people who can't get a job and now, I am thinking about having some concerns whith job opportinuties.
Could you lell me a little, if it will be easy for me to get a job. I speak french and my english is fluent. I will not apply for academic company, I would like to join a pharma or an industir company whith an entry Level or CRAII. I say that because it is very difficult to pass from academic to privite sector.

I am waiting for your comments.

Kind regards,

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SAE4ME in Atlanta, Georgia

18 months ago

I'm really interested in seeing this thread return to the original topic: What are the opportunities for CRAs with 10-15 years experience, besides LM/PM?

The reason is, I still haven't figured out where I can go next after being a CRA this long. I've monitored in the field ~ 10 years, including working on a few projects as a LeadCRA. I've actually been doing exclusive in-house tasks the last year, including managing resourcing, running sponsor calls, & mentoring field CRAs. I'm fairly comfortable with this role; & I'm hoping to apply for & hopefully obtain a Clinical Team Lead position the next time one opens internally.

The problem is; I really can't see myself going thru the established steps, which would include Line Manager/PM, then hopefully Director.

The thing I like most is being a knowledge base of sorts: attending meetings, doing presentations, & speaking to large groups. My ultimate dream job is a consulting job with McKinsey, BCG, or Bain, however I haven't been able to make any progress at all. I've networked extremely hard & I do have some contacts at one of the big firms; they've given me lots of advice however not having an MBA from a top-tier school seems to hold me back from the entry-level positions. Also I have a masters' degree but it seems that most expert-level associate positions that draw people like me from industry are filled by people with PhDs from top-tier technical programs which I don't have. I've looked into MBA programs however these only seem worthy if they come from a top-tier school, which isn't really feasible for me now.

In short; I really don't feel the CRO world is a fit for me long-term, here at 10 years into the field. I certainly want to be out before it turns into 20 years & I'm an Associate Director if I'm lucky. Has anyone else been able to parlay their CRA/CRO experience into another business field?

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