Clinical Research Coordinator Careers: Salary & Job Description

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What are the pros and cons of a clinical research coordinator career? Get real job descriptions, career prospects and salary info to see if becoming a clinical research coordinator is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of a Career as a Clinical Research Coordinator

Clinical research coordinators work at large hospitals or laboratories, overseeing clinical trials of new medications and treatments. Find out the pros and cons of a clinical research coordinator career to see if it's right for you.

Pros of a Career as a Clinical Research Coordinator
You can start in this career field after earning a bachelor's degree*
Annual wages of $33,000-$65,000**
Job satisfaction in making sure medicines are safe*
You may have a variety of job duties with a large degree of autonomy***

Cons of a Career as a Clinical Research Coordinator
Work hours may involve nights, weekends and holidays*
You may spend a lot of time in front of a computer and processing paperwork*
There may be less face-to-face interaction with patients in larger hospitals*
Job can be stressful when confronted with emergency or critical situations***

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), **PayScale.com, ***April 2012 job listings.

Career Information

Job Description and Duties

Clinical research coordinators run studies with volunteer subjects in order to test new medications for their safety and efficacy. In this position, you would be responsible for all of the organizing involved in putting together a clinical trial. Primary duties include interviewing and enrolling eligible participants, choosing the study site, making sure that forms are correctly filled out and arranging any follow-up visits. You would also be responsible for ensuring that any study under your supervision is in compliance with good clinical practice guidelines.

Salary Information

As of September 2015, a PayScale.com salary survey reported that most clinical research coordinators earned a salary between $33,000 and $65,000. The website notes that a clinical research coordinator's salary could vary based on experience. For example, entry-level coordinators reported annual earnings between $31,000 and $57,000, while experienced coordinators reported earnings between $42,000 and $72,000.

Education and Training Requirements

According to the BLS, you'll need a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing or training as a registered nurse. Becoming a registered nurse involves becoming licensed in your state by passing the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). Some jobs require a master's degree in the sciences. You'll also need some clinical experience in order to get a job. That could include your nursing experience or it could be in another area, such as pharmaceuticals or medical research.

Clinical research coordinators must be effective organizers, because they will be expected to run a clinical study from the ground up. The BLS notes that you should be able to use basic word processing and spreadsheet software and have good speaking, writing, active listening and decision-making skills.

Job Postings from Real Employers

Because clinical research coordinators typically work in laboratories and medical facilities, and employers typically prefer someone with nursing experience, the main job requirement is a bachelor's degree in a field that specializes in research, or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Employers also seek those with experience. The following list contains real job listings excerpts from April 2012.

  • A Florida university seeks a clinical research coordinator to plan and monitor all stages of clinical research, from recruitment to reporting of results. The candidate must be a licensed registered nurse or a certified clinical research coordinator.
  • A California company seeks a bilingual clinical research coordinator to recruit candidates for clinical research studies, verify consent and ensure that all regulations are followed and required paperwork is submitted. This person should have at least three years experience as a clinical research coordinator.
  • A New York hospital seeks a clinical research coordinator to secure and deliver study specimens, collect and record study data, assist in grant preparation and obtain informed consent from participants. This person should have a bachelor's degree in a closely related field.
  • A New York university seeks a clinical research coordinator in cellular physiology and immunology. This individual will create study protocols, train hospital staff and prepare study documentation for the institutional review board. Candidate must have previous nursing and clinical research coordination experience and skill with Microsoft Word and Excel programs.
  • A Florida research company seeks a clinical research coordinator with a bachelor's degree and certification through the Association of Clinical Research Professionals (ACRP). This individual will obtain informed consent, prepare for patient visits, recruit patients and conduct clinical trials. He or she will also attend meetings and work with the clinical research associate when necessary.

How to Stand Out from the Crowd

The BLS points out that professional certification can demonstrate that you have the knowledge and skills for the job. The ACRP offers a clinical research coordinator certification with two options for qualification. You must either possess a bachelor's degree or a registered nurse credential and complete 3,000 hours of work experience, or a high school diploma and complete 4,500 hours of work experience. If you meet these criteria, you must then complete a written exam covering topics like product management, protocols, safety, trial management and trial oversight.

Alternative Careers

Registered Nurse

If you know the medical field is for you, but you don't want to work in clinical research, you could consider becoming a registered nurse. The BLS notes you can prepare for a nursing career with an associate degree, although many colleges offer a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. After completing your education, you'll need to pass the NCLEX-RN in order to become licensed. Employment of registered nurses is expected to increase 26% between 2010 and 2020. The median annual wage for a registered nurse in May 2011 was $66,000. A nurse may work any shift, including nights and weekends, and must be available to work on short notice if on-call.

Medical Scientist

If you'd like to conduct your own medical research, you could become a medical scientist. You'd earn more money, however you also typically need a Ph.D. or professional degree. Many medical scientists work for the federal government or research universities; others work in private industry. The medical science field is expected to see a rapid rate of employment of 36% between 2010 and 2020 for medical scientists, excluding epidemiologists. These professionals earned a median annual salary of about $76,000 as of March 2011.

Popular Schools

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Kaplan University

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Regent University

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American National University

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  • Phlebotomy - Diploma

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College of Health Care Professions

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South University

  • Healthcare Administration (MBA)
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The George Washington University

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Grand Canyon University

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