Clinical research or clinical trials is the area of science which would generally involve testing of medical products for its safety and efficacy. Most often, a job in these fields would involve working with the test participants during extended experiments for the purpose of recording as well as quantifying the effects produced by the particular medicines. (1)
Are you seeking for the first job in this interesting field? Here is the guidance for you:
In the field of clinical research or clinical trial, experiments are usually conducted in a hospital setting or at a testing facility that are run by:
- Private corporations
Due to the importance of the work being carried out and the fact that the human subjects are involved, clinical research and trials are highly regulated. And hence, like several other professions, prior experience is typically expected in these fields.
Read the complete article here to know what can be done in order to demonstrate the desired skills, gaining the experience and securing your job in these fascinating global fields ...
I would say that there is no single correct answer to the title question as there are several ways for entering and navigating clinical research careers. Most typically, an entry level or a lateral position is what you would require initially. In order to get this, you need to have a background related to the following fields in addition to technical and soft skills:
- Clinical practice
Earning a Bachelor's Degree as the First Step:
The first step for finding a job in clinical trials or clinical research field would be to earn a bachelor's degree in health or life sciences. The major could focus on any of the following areas:
- Human health
Continuing to Learn:
In order to successfully land your first job in clinical trials or clinical research, you must be willing to learn about the landscape of clinical research field by the following means:
- Enrolling into some introductory courses
- Attending some reputable certificate programs
- Earning certification
- Earning a master's degree in any of the following subjects:
- Clinical research
- Project management
- Regulatory affairs
- Medical writing
- Business topics that emphasize the conduct of clinical trials
My advice would be that, you should not limit your focus to just clinical research associate or clinical research coordinator. You might also be qualified to work as:
- Data manager
- Subject recruiter
- Research billing officer
- Compliance manager
- Other specialist
There are plenty of university-based classroom and online as well as blended certificate programs available worldwide.
In addition to these courses, each and every clinical research professional must have taken training on ICH GCP Guidelines and Ethics.
Gaining Research Experience:
During or after completing your college, work on experiments with academic and/or medical professionals. It is not necessary that your work has to be clinical in nature. But, you must gain familiarity in scientific methodologies and research procedures. The experiments in which the products are tested on living subjects will be a good preparation.
Networking and Volunteering would help:
In order to find a job in clinical research field, you must be able to network. This can be done by joining some professional organizations and participating in some online as well as local opportunities for meeting and learning from established professionals.
Volunteering locally upon exploring the avenues available in your area for getting exposure to clinical research professionals would help you in deciding which is suitable for you. The possibilities are:
- Special interest groups
- Regional events
- Hospital and medical centers
- Public health departments
- Patient advocacy groups
- Assisted living and retirement homes
- Institutional review boards
- Research ethics committees
Looking for Opportunities:
You may look for opportunities like formal internships in any of the following facilities:
- Medical centers
- Local biotechnology, medical device or pharmaceutical firms
- Vendors of services to:
- Clinical researchers
- Regional offices of contract research organizations
Some internship that is based within firms might offer some academic credits with partnering universities.
Finding an Entry Level Job in Clinical Research:
There are abundant entry-level jobs such as data monitors and clinical trial assistants available to those with bachelor's degree and no prior experience. However, you should have substantial knowledge in human health and science. You can find the job by using search query 'Clinical testing facilities' in Google or by searching the job listings in 'Association of Clinical Research Professionals'. I would suggest you to work for at least one year. You must remember that starting low on the ladder is a must when you don't have prior experience in the field.
Once you are in the field, you may initiate some informational interviews and lunch meetings with professionals who are into the work in which you are interested. I would suggest you to attend some research project meetings as an observer wherever allowed. You may also help in study-related clerical duties thereby creating references for your later job.
Planning on Your Certification:
For candidates with a bachelor's degree and a minimum of one year experience in clinical research, 'Association of Clinical Research Professionals' and 'Society of Clinical Research Associates' are offering certification exams. You may consult these organizations for the exam details.
This certification would allow you to work as a clinical research associate with greater responsibility as well as earning potentials. If you want to become a clinical research coordinator, you must consider enrolling into an advanced degree. Usually, the coordinators must have at least an associate's degree. Sometimes, they would have an RN, M.D. or PhD along with the expertise in the specific field of medicine.
You must remember to maintain your certification through continuing training with some professional resources and services.
It is to be noted that, as you acquire more qualifications, the opportunities for rem uneration would also increase. In the year 2010, the average pay for the clinical research associate was as large as $53,670. (1), (2)