Clinical Research Coordinator Degrees: Certification, Associate & Online Class Info

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What will you learn in a clinical research coordinator program? Read about clinical research coordinator program requirements, the pros and cons of an associate's degree and certification and potential careers.
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Study Clinical Research Coordination: Degree and Certification at a Glance

A clinical research coordination associate's degree can lead to a rewarding career overseeing a variety of research projects conducted on human subjects. As a clinical research coordinator, there are many places you may find work, including medical research institutions and organizations, pharmaceutical companies, doctors' offices, hospitals and medical device companies. Clinical researchers with a degree and experience in the field can pursue certification through the Society of Clinical Research Associates (SoCRA) or the Association of Clinical Research Professionals (ACRP).

As determined by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), clinical research coordinator positions tend to fall into the larger category of medical and clinical laboratory technology and technician jobs. According to BLS projections, medical and clinical laboratory jobs were set to grow by 15% from 2010-2020. This is average job growth across all industries. According to Payscale.com in July 2012, clinical research coordinators in the 10th-90th percentile range made from $30,600-$62,100 per year, including bonuses.

Associate's Certification
Who is this degree for? Individuals interested in entry-level clinical research positions Clinical research coordinators who want to improve their employment prospects and develop contacts in the industry
Common Career Paths (with approximate mean annual salary) Various medical and clinical laboratory positions ($58,120)* Various medical and clinical laboratory positions ($58,120)*
Time to Completion Approximately 1-2 years part-time (unavailable)
Common Graduation Requirements - About 60 credit hours, including general and core curriculum courses
- Associate degree exams
- Certification training and exams
Prerequisites - High school diploma or equivalency
- Prerequisite training or courses
- Undergraduate degree and experience
Online Availability Yes Yes

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).

Clinical Research Coordination Certification

According to SoCRA, a Clinical Research Professional is someone involved in one or more clinical research trials and perform duties such as collecting data, performing analysis, recruiting participants and preparing reports. You can pursue certification from either the Society of Clinical Research Associates (SoCRA) or the Association of Clinical Research Professionals (ACRP). Over time, you'll need to periodically re-take these examinations or complete continuing education courses in order to retain your certification. While certification may be beneficial for employment, they do require you to pay a fee.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Opportunity to network with other professionals in the field
  • Certification demonstrates knowledge and skills in clinical research
  • Obtaining certification may help with job opportunities

Cons

  • Certification is not required for employment
  • Will need to pay fees to take the exam
  • Continuing education is necessary to maintain certification

Courses and Requirements

SoCRA offers a certification prep review course that will not only prepare you for the certification exam, but can be counted towards continuing education credits. The course is offered three times during the year at various locations around the country. In the course, you will learn about clinical research laws and regulations, quality assurance and monitoring, procedures and guidelines, membership requirements and development processes. The ACRP offers two courses related to clinical research. These courses include the fundamentals of clinical research and project management for clinical research professionals.

Online Certification Options

SoCRA and ACRP also offer online options for both members and non-members of the organizations. SoCRA offers two online courses that cover areas involving clinical trials and program start-ups, while ACRP provides online webinars that include presentations and question and answer sessions.

Getting Ahead

Both SoCRA and ACRP offer training courses that can improve your career outlook and lead to advancement as well. By keeping up with your certification and professional development with these organizations, you will help ensure that you remain a viable candidate in the job market.

Associate's Degree in Clinical Research Coordination

After earning your associate's degree in clinical research coordination, you can pursue entry-level employment or continue your education at the bachelor's degree level. There are programs that cater to both approaches. If you plan to get your bachelor's degree, make sure that the degree is transferable to a 4-year university.

There are a wide range of clinical research projects that you could study while earning your associate's degree. You could potentially study anything from clinical trials for chemotherapy drugs to testing new medical devices like cutting edge heart valves. It largely depends on what program you choose to enter. While earning an associate's degree will qualify you for employment, a bachelor's degree may open up more employment opportunities.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Some clinical research coordinators go on to lead research projects
  • An associate's degree program will prepare you for employment
  • If the credits are transferable, you move on to a 4-year university and earn a bachelor's degree to increase your job options and potential salary

Cons

  • Many clinical research management positions require that you hold a bachelor's degree in clinical research coordination or a related field
  • Credits from some associate's degree programs aren't always transferable to 4-year universities
  • Because of the professional limitations of an associate's degree, it may not be worth the cost

Courses and Requirements

A clinical research coordinator associate's degree program typically combines general studies courses with specialized ones. The following are a few you might take:

  • Clinical site management
  • Health record keeping
  • Clinical regulations and ethics
  • Physiology and human anatomy
  • Basic chemistry
  • Understanding statistics
  • Basic psychology
  • Pharmacology and clinical research

In addition to coursework and exams, you'll often be required to gain a certain amount of experience in the field as well. You may also be required to earn your certification.

Online Degree Options

Online associate's degree programs in clinical research are not available because of the hands-on requirements in the field. However, you may be able to find continuing education courses available that will keep you up-to-date on new regulations and guidelines in the industry.

Stand Out With This Degree

In order to stand out in the field, there are a certain number of steps you can take. These steps include:

  • Staying abreast of the latest developments in medical technology and data collection can not only help you stand out, but is sometimes a job requirement.
  • As is the case when earning a certification, real-world experience is not only useful, but also often essential. In addition to your program's required lab hours, volunteering at a clinic or complete an internship.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Indiana Wesleyan University

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    3. Keiser University

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Featured Schools

Indiana Wesleyan University

  • A.S. General Studies - Life Sciences

What is your highest level of education?

Herzing University

  • Associate of Science - Medical Assisting Services

What is your highest level of education?

Keiser University

  • Associate of Sciences - Medical Assistant

What is your highest level of education?

Northwest Mississippi Community College

Kilgore College

Itawamba Community College

Grand Rapids Community College

Westmoreland County Community College