Is a Career in Clinical Research Right for Me?

Clinical research

Clinical research has led to the development of countless scientific breakthroughs—in fact, before any drug or treatment can become FDA-approved and publicly available, it must first go through four trial phases with the help of clinical trial volunteers and closely monitored evaluation and analysis.   

There are several ways to get involved with clinical trials by volunteering—ClinicalTrials.gov and CenterWatch.com provide listings for clinical trials which are recruiting participants; you can also contact us to inquire about current research volunteer opportunities.

But what about being on the other end of things? Have you ever wondered how to become a clinical researcher, or if a career in clinical research could be right for you? If you want to put your science degree to use, make a difference in people’s lives, and further the development of both your career and the medical world, there’s a good chance that this could be the career for you.

What types of work can a clinical researcher do?

With the variety of diseases, treatments and ongoing studies that exist, there is also a variety of people working together—this, of course, also means a variety of work environments, including (but not limited to):

  • Clinical Research Scientist
  • Data Manager
  • Quality Assurance Auditor
  • Medical Writer
  • Biostatistician
  • Clinical Safety Analyst

What qualifications are needed in order to be a clinical researcher?

If you have obtained or are pursuing an undergraduate degree in a field relating to biology, physics or mathematics, you have already taken the first step toward a career in clinical research. Depending on which area of clinical research you want to specialize in, you may then go on to pursue a master’s degree, and an M.D. or Ph.D. Keep in mind that it is important to have a strong academic record throughout your studies, as many programs are quite competitive.

Licensure may be required depending on your specialization. If performing medical procedures on human volunteers, a medical license is required.

Where do clinical researchers work?

“There are a number of things that appealed to me as a CRA (Clinical Research Associate),” writes a DOCS member with said job title. “I liked the flexibility—you can work from a number of different locations… I enjoy working from home when I can.” Clinical researchers may also work in hospitals and medical labs; they may also travel frequently for their work.

What is a typical career path for a clinical researcher?

There is no “one size fits all” formula for becoming a clinical research—as mentioned earlier, this career field is full of variety. New or inexperienced employees often start in administrative or assistive roles before moving on toward setting up trials and collecting data, and then toward project management and design.

If you are science-minded, detail-oriented, and have good communication skills, there are several options out there for you within the field of clinical research. Consider connecting with others within an area of the field that you are interested in to learn more about the specifics of day-to-day life as a clinical researcher.