Becoming a Clinical Research Coordinator (CRC) - Education & Certification

sponsored


A clinical research coordinator (CRC), sometimes called a clinical trial manager, plays an integral role in medical studies of all kinds. They typically work under the direction of the principal investigator (PI), who is in charge of designing, conducting, and managing the clinical trial from a high level. It is the CRC’s job to support, facilitate, and organize daily clinical trial activities.

Clinical research coordinators also work in conjunction with the department, sponsor, and institution to guide them through compliance, finances, and personnel issues. In short, the CRC manages the day-to-day clinical operations activities, overseeing and executing delegated tasks to appropriate parties.

Key responsibilities of the CRC include the planning and management of the study, enrollment, maintenance, and training initiatives, as well as maintaining compliance with federal, state, and institutional regulations. They carry out experiments, clinical research, and medical studies. They also engage directly with the trial participants as they screen them for eligibility, develop and implement recruitment strategies, and liaise with all teams throughout the trial. From evaluating research protocols to seeking approval from regulatory committees, CRCs have a wide reach within laboratories, medical centers, and research hospitals.

To secure a job as a CRC, professionals must have at least a four-year bachelor’s degree in a field such as medical technology, microbiology, or public health administration. However, some employers require an additional two-year master’s degree, particularly for management positions.

Typical courses to take in preparation for this career include biochemistry, biostatistics, healthcare management, mathematics, epidemiology, and human anatomy. Essential job skills to possess for this job include management and communications experience, coupled with multi-tasking and interpersonal skills. Students may have to take and pass a licensing exam to become a clinical research coordinator. (See more on certification below.)

Additionally, students may consider internships or entry-level jobs working as lab technicians or healthcare workers to get familiar with the typical working environment.

As the medical industry grows, college graduates, especially those with a master’s in clinical research, will be on the front lines of research and development. Students have a variety of career prospects in front of them with an education in clinical research, from medical scientists to natural sciences managers.

Continue reading for a comprehensive guide on how to achieve the various levels of a clinical research career, followed by helpful resources that can guide students and professionals as they navigate the process.

cra--Select `wp_mha_sb_school_data`.*, `wp_mha_sb_program_details`.* FROM `wp_mha_sb_school_data` JOIN `wp_mha_sb_program_details` ON `wp_mha_sb_school_data`.s_id = `wp_mha_sb_program_details`.s_id WHERE `wp_mha_sb_program_details`.p_degree = 'masters' AND ( `wp_mha_sb_program_details`.p_current_degrees = 'bachelors' OR `wp_mha_sb_program_details`.p_current_degrees like '%,bachelors,%' OR `wp_mha_sb_program_details`.p_current_degrees like 'bachelors,%' OR `wp_mha_sb_program_details`.p_current_degrees like '%,bachelors' ) AND ( `wp_mha_sb_program_details`.p_concentration_name = 'cra' OR `wp_mha_sb_program_details`.p_concentration_name like '%,cra,%' OR `wp_mha_sb_program_details`.p_concentration_name like 'cra,%' OR `wp_mha_sb_program_details`.p_concentration_name like '%,cra' ) AND ( `wp_mha_sb_program_details`.p_restricted_states <> 'VA' AND `wp_mha_sb_program_details`.p_restricted_states NOT LIKE '%,VA,%' AND `wp_mha_sb_program_details`.p_restricted_states NOT LIKE 'VA,%' AND `wp_mha_sb_program_details`.p_restricted_states NOT LIKE '%,VA' ) AND `wp_mha_sb_school_data`.s_active <> 'No' AND `wp_mha_sb_program_details`.p_accelerated = 'yes' AND `wp_mha_sb_program_details`.p_active_dpclickaway = 'yes' ORDER BY CASE WHEN `wp_mha_sb_program_details`.p_concentration_name LIKE '%cra%' THEN 1 END, CASE `wp_mha_sb_school_data`.s_id WHEN 54 THEN 1 WHEN 2 THEN 2 WHEN 25 THEN 3 WHEN 7 THEN 4 WHEN 46 THEN 5 WHEN 26 THEN 6 WHEN 13 THEN 7 WHEN 34 THEN 8 WHEN 18 THEN 9 WHEN 9 THEN 10 WHEN 23 THEN 11 WHEN 16 THEN 12 WHEN 24 THEN 13 WHEN 55 THEN 14 WHEN 57 THEN 15 WHEN 58 THEN 16 WHEN 59 THEN 17 WHEN 27 THEN 18 WHEN 50 THEN 19 WHEN 22 THEN 20 WHEN 5 THEN 21 WHEN 29 THEN 22 WHEN 8 THEN 23 WHEN 19 THEN 24 WHEN 49 THEN 25 WHEN 53 THEN 26 WHEN 30 THEN 27 WHEN 17 THEN 28 WHEN 1 THEN 29 WHEN 6 THEN 30 WHEN 32 THEN 31 WHEN 48 THEN 32 WHEN 20 THEN 33 WHEN 15 THEN 34 WHEN 56 THEN 35 WHEN 3 THEN 36 WHEN 10 THEN 37 WHEN 28 THEN 38 WHEN 33 THEN 39 WHEN 31 THEN 40 WHEN 47 THEN 41 WHEN 52 THEN 42 WHEN 37 THEN 43 WHEN 39 THEN 44 WHEN 41 THEN 45 WHEN 40 THEN 46 WHEN 11 THEN 47 WHEN 45 THEN 48 WHEN 44 THEN 49 WHEN 42 THEN 50 WHEN 43 THEN 51 WHEN 21 THEN 52 WHEN 14 THEN 53 WHEN 12 THEN 54 WHEN 4 THEN 55 WHEN 38 THEN 56 WHEN 51 THEN 57 ELSE 99 END ASC, `wp_mha_sb_program_details`.p_name-/faq/how-do-i-become-a-clinical-research-coordinator
Featured Clinical Research Administration Programs
Wake Forest University MS in Clinical Research Management View Full Profile
Arizona State University Clinical Research Management (MS) View Full Profile
Arizona State University Clinical Research Management - Regulatory Science (MS) View Full Profile
The George Washington University School of Medicine & Health Sciences MSHS in Clinical & Translational Research View Full Profile
The George Washington University School of Medicine & Health Sciences MSHS in Clinical Operations and Healthcare Management View Full Profile
The George Washington University School of Medicine & Health Sciences MSHS in Clinical Research Administration View Full Profile
×

THANK YOU FOR YOUR INTEREST IN Southern New Hampshire University Online MS - Construction Management

A Step-by-Step Guide to Becoming a Clinical Research Coordinator

Becoming a clinical research coordinator takes many steps and there are varied career pathways available. Below are some of the primary steps to becoming a CRC at different phases of educational achievements.

Step 1: Graduate from high school (four years).

Preparation for a career in clinical research coordination should begin with high school courses in chemistry, biology, physics, math, and communications which develop foundational knowledge for college-level coursework.

Step 2: Obtain a bachelor’s degree (four years).

When perusing colleges and universities, students should focus on those that offer bachelor of science degrees in health sciences in clinical research administration. Students should dedicate at least four years of full-time work for this degree. These programs generally provide clinical research professionals with the tools they need for developing medicines and conducting trials and studies. Both on-campus and online programs focus on critical administrative and scientific methods regarding clinical research and guidelines in place to protect human subjects.

George Washington University in Washington DC, for example, offers a robust online program geared toward working health sciences and clinical research professionals looking to advance in their careers. Typical courses for a bachelor’s of science in this field include research and writing for health sciences, bioethics, healthcare in literature, informatics in the health sciences, biostatistics, healthcare law and regulation, basics of clinical research, health science management, and disease prevention and health promotion concepts.

A bachelor’s degree can lead to an entry-level position in a clinical organization or institution. It can also help existing clinicians advance within their current jobs. Students wishing to open up even more opportunities for responsibility and salary are encouraged to pursue professional experience and/or additional education.

Step 3: Gain work experience as a clinical research professional (at least one year).

At this stage, it’s advisable to earn at least one year of full-time experience working in a clinical research capacity. This is a typical requirement to qualify for national certification.

Step 4: Obtain a graduate certificate (optional, one year).

Students can earn an online graduate certificate in clinical research administration. George Washington University offers an 18-credit-hour graduate certificate to strengthen career prospects while helping students hone their management skills for clinical research administration. Credits earned in certificate programs can typically be transferred into a master’s program within the same institution.

Arizona State University also offers a 15-credit online graduate certificate in clinical research management designed for nurses, physicians, and other healthcare professionals. Graduates are prepared for careers in many professions, from clinical research coordination and biostatistics to genetics and environmental studies.

Students can explore concentrations in scientific concepts, research design, participant safety considerations, medicines development, the study and site management, data management and informatics, leadership and professionalism, and communication and teamwork. This degree offers a strong concentration in clinical research financial and business practices, ethical research, and management skills related to drug and medical device trials.

Step 5: Get a master of science in clinical research management (optional, two years).

Obtaining a master’s degree can increase one’s salary prospects and responsibilities within the field. For example, ASU’s master in clinical research management offers an online, 33-semester-hour program coupled with a two-day orientation program. A six-semester-hour clinical research project is also required.

Typical courses include clinical research monitoring and fundamentals of regulatory affairs. By the conclusion of the program, students are prepared to seek careers as clinical research coordinators, as well as clinical data managers, social science research assistants, and clinical lab techs.

Step 6: Get certified (timeline varies).

It is strongly recommended for professionals in this field to be certified in clinical research. For example, the Society of Clinical Research Associates (SOCRA) offers an internationally-accepted certification for professionals to be recognized as Certified Clinical Research Professionals (CCRP®s).

Students must pass an exam to get their certification. The exam schedule is varied and offers time slots at locations all over the United States. There are three distinct pathways to be eligible for this exam. Applicants must fall into one of the following categories:

  • Category 1– Has two years of full-time experience as a clinical research professional (or 3,500 hours part-time during the previous five years)
  • Category 2 – Holds a degree in clinical research (associate, bachelor’s or master’s) and at least one year of full-time experience as a clinical research professional (or 1,750 hours part-time during the previous five years)
  • Category 3 – Holds an undergraduate or graduate certificate in clinical research (at least 12 semester hours or 144 credit hours); an associate or bachelor’s degree in a scientific (or related) field; and at least one year of full-time experience as a clinical research professional (or 1,750 hours part-time during the previous five years)

Alternatively, students can seek certification from the Association of Clinical Research Professionals, called the ACRP-CP®. There are three levels of certification: clinical research associate (CCRA), clinical research coordinator (CCRC), and principal investigator (PI). ACRP offers prep courses to help students prepare for each of the tests.

To be eligible for the CCRA or CCRC certification exam, candidates must have one of the following:

  • Option 1 – Bachelor’s degree (or higher) and submission of a detailed resume documenting as least 3,000 hours performing the designated duties, as described by the ACRP
  • Option 2 – LPN, LVN, RN, or associate degree and submission of detailed resume documenting as least 4,500 hours performing the designated duties, as described by the ACRP
  • Option 3 – Medical assistant, lab tech, or high school diploma and submission of detailed resume documenting as least 6,000 hours performing the designated duties, as described by the ACRP

Please note that there may be some substitutions for hours of qualifying work experience and that “designated duties” may differ by the desired certification. Students can learn more about the ACRP’s exam, schedule, application, and eligibility requirements on the organization’s website.

Helpful Resources for Aspiring Clinical Research Coordinators

The following list of professional organizations can assist students and professionals as they seek a career in clinical research.

  • National Institutes of Health – The National Institutes of Health offers a free course titled “Introductions and Principles and Practice of Clinical Research (IPPCR).” This clinical research coordinator training course focuses on the ethical issues involved in human subject research and provides an overview of scientific methodologies, principles, and practices required for patient-oriented research. The course is designed for medical and public health professionals or anyone aspiring to have a career in clinical research. Topics include ethical issues, biostatistical methods, study design, protocol preparation, patient monitoring, and quality assurance.
  • Harvard Catalyst Clinical Research Center – The HCCRC offers information for research coordinators. These resources address professional development, training and certifications, helpful tools, and core competencies for the clinical research professional.
  • International Association of Clinical Research Nurses – The IACRN is a professional nursing organization that defines, validates, and advances clinical research nursing while supporting the professional development of registered nurses who work with clinical research participants.
  • Association of Clinical Research Professionals – The ACRP sets the standards for competence in clinical research. The organization is based in Washington D.C. and boasts 13,000 members supporting professionals with the membership, training, and certification programs they need to maintain career excellence.
  • Oregon Health & Science University – OHSU’s Oregon Clinical and Translational Research Institute’s mission is: “To enhance the efficiency and quality of rigorously translating research ideas into impact.” This organization provides a variety of helpful resources and webinars that can guide students as they gather information necessary to pursue a career in clinical research coordination.
Matt Zbrog
Matt Zbrog
Writer

Matt Zbrog is a writer and freelancer who has been living abroad since 2016. His nonfiction has been published by Euromaidan Press, Cirrus Gallery, and Our Thursday. Both his writing and his experience abroad are shaped by seeking out alternative lifestyles and counterculture movements, especially in developing nations. You can follow his travels through Eastern Europe and Central Asia on Instagram at @weirdviewmirror. He’s recently finished his second novel, and is in no hurry to publish it.

Related Posts

  • 28 July 2020

    A Day in the Life of a Clinical Research Associate

    The clinical research associate acts as a liaison between the study's sponsor (e.g., pharmaceutical company) and the clinics where the study takes place. Because results of a clinical trial must be kept entirely transparent and not influenced by the interests of the sponsor, this is a critical role.

  • 10 July 2020

    Healthcare Debates: Does Costly US Healthcare Fund R&D and Medical Research?

    This article explores research and development in the context of greater healthcare expenditures, including looking into the main drivers of healthcare spending, influences on pricing, and where R&D fits into the whole ecosystem.

  • 13 November 2019

    Pharmaceutical Quality Director – A Day in the Life

    Consumers and corporations need to know that the drugs dispensed by pharmaceutical companies are manufactured safely and efficiently. Pharmaceutical quality directors ensure that quality control protocols are followed within the industry’s manufacturing, testing, and inspection procedures.

  • 20 February 2019

    Closing the Gap: Women Leading Healthcare

    Women drive healthcare. They are the industry's biggest consumers and workers. They serve as caregivers in their homes and make most decisions for their family's health. Why is it, then, that of the 40 Fortune 500 healthcare companies, not a single one is helmed by a woman?

  • 29 November 2018

    Clinical Application Analyst – A Day in the Life

    Electronic health records (EHR) and other clinical software systems are the new industry standard in healthcare. However, plenty of clinics, hospitals, and private practices have yet to make the full migration. That’s where clinical application analysts come in.