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Clinical Research Associate Training Information

Clinical research associates require a significant amount formal education. Learn about the related education, job duties and certification options to see if this is the right career for you.

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Essential Information

A clinical research associate assists with clinical trials of new pharmaceuticals, medical devices or treatment methodologies. Associates come from varied backgrounds, with degrees in such diverse subjects as business administration, statistics and teaching, but generally have a degree in one of the life sciences.

Required Education Variable; certificate or college degree in the life sciences, business, education, etc.
Projected Job Growth 2.5% for the upcoming decade as of May, 2013*
Median Annual Salary (May, 2012) $44,200*

Source: *United States Bureau of Labor Statistics

Training Information for Clinical Research Associates

The training of clinical research associates used to be handled on site and on-the-job under the supervision of the physician or scientist leading a clinical study. Certificate and associate's degree programs have since emerged to bring some consistency to the skill set of associates. Program courses may include data collection, management and reporting, clinical research terminology, federal laws and regulations, research protocols, research site management and professional ethics. Students may also participate in actual research studies through supervised fieldwork courses.

Duties and Skills

Clinical research associates perform a number of duties and learn varied skills during training. These may include preparing a test area, setting up and breaking down equipment, recruiting and enrolling test subjects in clinical trials, and explaining testing procedures to subjects. Clinical research associates may also administer experimental medications, monitor and record the responses of subjects, write progress reports, and interact with institutional review boards and government inspectors to assure compliance with regulations.

Certification Info

While the federal government does regulate clinical trials, as yet there is no official requirement that clinical research associates must be certified to work. Nevertheless, two professional organizations have established standards for those who are working in this field. The Society of Clinical Research Associates (www.socra.org) has developed an examination that certifies the competence of its members as research associates. The Association of Clinical Research Professionals (www.acrp.org) also offers an exam, and requires members to renew their certification every two years as well. To maintain their certification, association members must earn continuing education credits in addition to passing the recertification exam.

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  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    • Eligibility and relevancy of sample programs below will vary by article and program
    School locations:
    • Online Learning
    • Arizona (3 campuses)
    • California (16)
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    • Virginia (3)
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    • Wisconsin (1)

    Online and Classroom-Based Programs

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  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must live within close proximity to school locations
    • Must be graduated from high school by 2011
    School locations:
    • Florida (2 campuses)
    • Minnesota (2 campuses)
    • New York (1)
    • Texas (3)

    Classroom-Based Programs

    What is your highest level of education?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    • Currently not accepting applications from Texas residents
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    Online Programs

    • Associate
        • AS in Medical Assisting

    Which subject are you interested in?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • A minimum 2.0 GPA
    • Submit high school transcript(s)
    • Submit college transcript(s) (if applicable)
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    Online Programs

    What is your highest level of education?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    Online Programs

    What is your highest level of education completed?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    Online Programs

    Do you prefer online or campus based learning?

Other Schools:

  • School locations:
    • Mississippi (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Pearl River Community College include:
      • Non-Degree: Coursework, Diploma
      • Undergraduate: Associate
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Dental
      • Medical Administrative Services
      • Medical Assisting
        • Clinical Laboratory Assistant
        • Physical Therapist Assistant
      • Medical Diagnostic and Treatment Professions
      • Nursing Professions
  • School locations:
    • California (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Stanford University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Medical Administrative Services
      • Medical Informatics and Illustration
      • Medical Residency Programs
  • School locations:
    • Massachusetts (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Harvard University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Dental
      • Medical and Health Preparatory Sciences
      • Medical Residency Programs
      • Public Health and Safety
  • School locations:
    • Pennsylvania (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Pennsylvania include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: First Professional Certificate, Post Master's Certificate, Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Dental
      • Medical Administrative Services
      • Medical Ethics and Bioethics
      • Medical Residency Programs
      • Mental Health Services
      • Nursing Professions
      • Public Health and Safety
      • Veterinary Medicine and Clinical Sciences

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics