Clinical research coordinators, or CRCs, ensure that clinical trials for the testing of new drugs run smoothly. While many CRCs have nursing degrees, there are several educational pathways that lead to working in clinical research. The average salary of a CRC will vary depending on several factors, including her experience and where she works.
MayoCinic.com lists the average starting salary for a clinical research coordinator as $37,000 per year, with senior coordinators making up to $68,000 per year. In addition to experience, the geographical location of the CRC's workplace and type of organization she works for influences her salary. A CRC working at a large organization that conducts many clinical trials will likely earn more than one who works for a small doctor's office. CRC salaries are also often dependent on grants or government funding available for the research projects for which they're working.
Many CRCs are registered nurses (RNs) or licensed practical nurses (LPNs), but a CRC can also have a degree in biology, business administration, health information management, medical technology, statistics, or teaching, according to the Society of Clinical Research Associates (SoCRA). Some colleges offer an associate degree or bachelor's program specifically in clinical research. While a person who specializes in clinical research can work with many different types of clinical trials, she might find herself best suited and more marketable for clinical trials that dovetail with her degree and experience. For instance, having worked in cardiology might make a CRC more marketable to an office that tests cardiovascular drugs.
A CRC's job includes recruiting patients for trials, reviewing their medical history to see if they're good candidates, explaining the trial to the patient, gathering relevant biosamples, and administering medications or performing other tasks required for the trial. Clinical research coordinators also maintain meticulous records of all events that occur during the trial, send paperwork in to the Food and Drug Administration at regular intervals, and keep the principal investigator informed of any issues that arise during the trial.
Those who wish to pursue a career in clinical research can increase their job opportunities if they become certified as a Certified Clinical Research Professional. To take the CRCP exam, candidates must meet one of several criteria. If you have a degree in clinical research, you must have one full year of experience working in clinical research to qualify for the exam. A person can also take the exam without a degree if they have two full years of experience working in the clinical research field. Most candidates who take the exam fall under this category, according to SoCRA.
- Washington University of St. Louis: Clinical Research Coordinator
- MayoClinic.com: Clinical Research
- Northwestern University: Clinical Research and Regulatory Administration Career Options
- Society of Clinical Research Associates: Clinical Research
- Society of Clinical Research Associates: Certification for CCRP
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