Your Guide to a Clinical Research Career

All you need to know about clinical research careers and how to start one.

I’m beginning this guide by defining clinical research.

Well, clinical research represents that part of the medical science studying the safety and efficacy of future medicines meant for human use.

Reading this definition, you will tell me that a career in clinical research and clinical trial industry is for doctors, pharmacists, dentists and, largely speaking, for specialists in the health department.

That is certainly not the case!

Individuals with medical background have their important role here, but medical research is done via clinical studies that are basically projects adapted to this specific industry.

As any project, clinical studies are lead by project management rules.

Therefore, the clinical research industry gathers a large variety of professions and qualifications under the same umbrella.

We can group the careers within this industry under two main categories: 

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1. On one hand, there is the medical and non-medical staff within hospitals and medical clinics involved in clinical trials;

2. On the other hand, there is the hired staff of the entities initiating clinical studies: pharma- and biotech companies, contract research organizations (CRO), universities, non-profit organizations, and the list goes on.

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I suggest we take them one by one:

  1. In hospitals and medical clinics, we have, as stated above, the medical and non-medical staff:
    • Doctors filling in the role of Principal Investigator and Sub-Investigator,
    • Pharmacists having their own very clear responsibilities with the management of clinical investigation medicines,
    • Nurses who play the role of study nurse within the trial, as expected and
    • The Clinical Study Coordinator is part of the non-medical staff.

What you need to know is that the Clinical Study Coordinator plays a special role in the clinical trial because it is in charge of a very important activity. 

The Clinical Study Coordinator performs the administrative management of the study within the medical institution, ensuring everything needed for the unfolding of the project.

Here are some tasks:

  • Preparing the administrative documents;
  • Providing and maintaining the materials, instruments, and devices throughout the study;
  • Scheduling the patients for the study-specific procedures, and the list can go on.

And yes, it is true… the Clinical Study Coordinator is NOT a healthcare specialist!!!

  1. The entities initiating clinical studies (pharma- and biotech companies, contract research organizations (CRO), universities, non-profit organizations) officially being their Sponsors offer a vast variety of career options. So biologists, chemists, teachers, engineers, college   graduates, economists, legal advisors, specialists in the health field can choose from a long list of jobs:
    • Clinical Trial Assistant;
    • Clinical Research Associate;
    • Clinical Trial Leads / Clinical Trial Manager;
    • CRA Lead / CRA Manager;
    • Clinical Project Manager;
    • Data Manager;
    • Regulatory Specialist;
    • Regulatory Manager;
    • Auditor;
    • Quality Check Manager;
    • Contract and Budget Specialist.

So, what is your conclusion following all the information you have just been provided with? 

There are plenty of roles and jobs for you to build a career in clinical research.

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Are you asking yourself what is the reason to start building a career in this industry?

I can give you not one reason, but SEVEN reasons why. 

# 1 In 2020 the global clinical trial market was evaluated at more than USD 44 billion and it is expected to grow to over USD 69 billion by the end of 2028.

# 2 Based on my 15+ years of experience in clinical research, I can tell you that this industry was not significantly affected by either the 2008-2010 global crisis or the Covid 19 pandemic. 

The way we work has indeed changed with every crisis, sometimes the salaries were frozen but the number of projects increased year to year.

So your job in this industry is far safer here than in other industries!!!

 # 3 The professional evolution is limited only by your desire to grow. Furthermore, no age is too old to start your career in clinical research.

# 4 Clinical studies are performed globally and the market fluctuations in a certain country have minimal influence on your job when you work on international projects.

# 5 The vast majority of the jobs offered by the study sponsors are flexible regarding location, so you can work in an office or from home.

# 6 A high number of roles, Clinical Research Associate, Clinical Trial Lead / Manager, Regulatory Specialist, Auditor or Contract Specialist can be fulfilled both as an employee, but also as a freelancer. You, therefore, have the independence to organize your time and income tailored to your personal needs.

# 7 The last reason that I want to give you is the sheer material fact: the salaries in this industry are very good.

You can forget about your financial worries, regardless of any economical or pandemic crisis.

Well, so far so good!

This is the important question: what do you need to do to start a career in clinical research?

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Here are the most important steps:

  1. First: study the jobs in this industry and find out which one is the best fit for you. 
  2. Second: take an accredited Good Clinical Practice (GCP) course to learn the basic notions.
  3. And third: search for the wanted job on specialized websites 

I will go into deeper details in the next post here on www.


It may take a few months until you obtain a job that is why you need to have a bit of patience and plan the career change in advance. 

When I graduated university, I got my first job after 3 months of interviews.

When I wanted a career switch and work in clinical studies, it took me almost 6 months to get a job as Clinical Research Associate, because I did not benefit from a detailed guidance regarding the steps I needed to make in this direction.

In the next posts, I will come back with more information on clinical trials and how to start a new life with a career in clinical research.

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