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CRAhopeful in Kinston, North Carolina

49 months ago

Hey there everyone,

I am a student in a Bachelor of Clinical Research program currently, and scheduled to graduate in May 2012. In January 2012, as the last part of the program, we are supposed to do an internship. I read several of the discussions in this forum, and it seems many of you are already in the field, so I was hoping this would be a good place to get some questions answered.

My first goal in this future job (besides landing the actual job) is to travel. What are the possibilities of scoring a job in this area that will let me travel? Or, I was also considering just moving somewhere new, like taking the internship in Europe somewhere. I will be 24 when I graduate, and although I have a big family, I have no real "strings" to keep me in the States. Any suggestions/comments in this area?

Also, I was curious as to what my salary starting out might be. Let's say I land an internship and the company offers me a position after the internship is complete. What kind of salary could I expect out of the gate?

It seems like it is hard to break into this business. How many years experience should I have before trying to move my way up the ladder?

These are just a few questions I've come up with, and have lots more. So any answers or recommendations or suggestions are highly appreciated and helpful. Thanks so much in advance for your time, and please feel free to add on any advice you may have for a student!

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Kathy in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

49 months ago

I think the first few years you really won't be able to choose where you live. Chances are, you'll probably end up in the RTP area in NC. Jobs for entry-level candidates aren't very common so you really have to go where you can get a job.

If you like to travel, trying to get a CRA job after you get a few years of entry-level experience. The typical career path to get a CRA job could be spending 2 years as a CTA or RA and then trying to get promoted to a CRA. CTAs make about 35k on the east coast the first year, 40-45k the 2nd/3rd year. CRAs make about 55k to start.

A CRAs job is to travel 4 nights a week, every week (even the week of xmas) and monitor investigational sites. After doing it for many years now, it gets old quick, but you sound ambitious. You don't get to choose where you go, but usually you'll get one or two fun places. It's hard to maintain your relationships with your friends and family when you are in Kirkwood, MO on Monday, Banger, ME on Tuesday and Huntsville, AL on Wednesday and you fly home all day Thursday, but it's the life of a CRA I. Now that I am a Senior CRA, I only travel 2-3 nights a week.

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