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Certified Research Assistant Job Duties and Salary Info

Certified research assistants, also referred to as clinical research assistants or associates, serve in a support role for clinical trials related to medicine, pharmaceuticals, biology or chemistry. They may help coordinate research, conduct investigations and collect samples.

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Certified Research Assistant Job Duties

Certified research assistants are responsible for organizing and coordinating clinical trials. They ensure that procedures are followed properly and that trials adhere to good clinical practices. Certified research assistants may serve as coordinators, researchers, investigators, administrators, consultants or educators. Duties may also include collecting samples from test subjects, conducting urine or blood tests, processing lab samples, coordinating and recruiting test subjects and compiling data.

Certified research assistants must be able to adhere to safety rules and regulations and maintain confidentiality. They should possess excellent organizational, communication and interpersonal skills.

Salary Information

Salary and pay varies greatly for certified research assistants and depends on the type of work they do, as well as the organizations for which they work. Research assistants may be paid by the hour or may be salaried. Payscale.com lists salaries for medical research assistants ranging between $25,000 and $45,000, as of 2010. Private practices and government agencies at the state and local levels paid the lowest wages, while school districts and federal government agencies paid the highest.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov) lists the median wage of clinical lab technologists at $53,500, and the median wage for clinical lab technicians at $35,380, as of 2008. Job prospects in the clinical research field are excellent, with the number of jobs in the field expected to increase 14% in the period from 2008 to 2018. This reflects much faster than average growth.

Certification and Education Requirements

Certification is formal recognition that clinical research professionals have met certain requirements and have demonstrated dedication, experience and skills in the field. In order to become professionally certified, research assistants must pass a written exam offered by either the Association of Clinical Research Professionals (ACRP) or the Society of Clinical Research Associates (SoCRA). Exams test candidates' knowledge of procedures for clinical trials, as well as regulations and ethical issues. To be eligible for certification, candidates must have both experience and education. SoCRA requires certification candidates to possess a combination of formal education and work experience. ACRP asks for a minimum of two years of full-time experience.

According to a survey conducted by ACRP, possessing certification enhances professional standing and recognition by peers and supervisors and increases research assistants' overall knowledge of the job. Based on feedback from pharmaceutical companies and other clinical research professionals, clinical assistants who are certified have proven to produce work with fewer errors. They also compile results more quickly.

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics