What Does a Clinical Research Associate (CRA) Do?
SummaryClinical Research Associates (CRA) are responsible for organising and monitoring clinical trials, helping to identify the benefits and risks of new and pre-existing drugs, ensuring they’re effective and safe for their intended use. CRAs are often involved in all stages of a clinical trial, from identifying a relevant investigational site and setting up the trial, to closing down the trial and preparing final reports.
- Author Company: PharmiWeb.Jobs
- Author Name: Lucy Walters
- Author Email: Lucy.Walters@pharmiweb.com
- Author Website: https://www.pharmiweb.jobs/
Clinical Research Associates (CRA) are responsible for organising and monitoring clinical trials, helping to identify the benefits and risks of new and pre-existing drugs, ensuring they’re effective and safe for their intended use. CRAs are often involved in all stages of a clinical trial, from identifying a relevant investigational site and setting up the trial, to closing down the trial and preparing final reports.
CRAs are typically employed by pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, medical device manufacturers, contract research organisations, and hospital and academic research departments. Although the responsibilities of a CRA will vary depending on factors such as the type of employer, the nature of the trial and where the trial is based, the purpose of the role remains the same.
What are the Main Responsibilities of a CRA?
Some of the most common responsibilities held by a CRA include:
- Assessing the suitability of potential clinical trial sites and identifying an investigator to be responsible for the trial
- Developing clinical trial procedures/protocols and presenting these to the steering committee
- Designing trial materials
- Collecting case report forms (CRFs) and running source document verification (SDV)
- Setting up the clinical trial sites, ensuring each centre has the materials needed to run the trial
- Briefing and training clinicians and site staff on clinical trial procedures/protocols
- Coordinating with ethics committees to help protect the wellbeing of trial subjects
- Monitoring the trial throughout its duration in collaboration with team members, ensuring it has been carried out in line with relevant laws and regulations, and writing visit reports to document this
- Tracking trial trends or adverse events
- Closing down trial sites upon trial completion, ensuring any unused supplies are accounted for and preparing final reports
What are the Main Benefits of Working as a CRA?
Working in clinical research brings with it many benefits, including being able to make a real difference to people’s lives across the globe. The role of a CRA is also highly varied, containing a mix of both office-based work and site visits. This role is also highly collaborative, providing ample opportunity to meet new people and grow your professional network. There is also plenty of opportunity for national and sometimes international travel, which is great for those who love to get out and about and experience new places.
What Experience, Skills and Qualifications are Needed to Become a CRA?
As a CRA, you’ll be expected to hold an undergraduate or postgraduate degree in a relevant field such as life sciences. Whilst a postgraduate degree can help to make your application stand out, many employers will value relevant work experience higher than an extra qualification, although this will differ depending on the employer and the seniority of the role. You may also need a clean driving licence to travel between sites.
Experience in the following areas can also strengthen your chances of becoming a CRA:
- Medical sales
- Pharmaceutical research
- Clinical data management
- Clinical laboratory work
- Other roles where scientific and analytical techniques have been used
As well as this, some of the most essential skills required to become a CRA include:
- Strong commercial awareness
- Excellent written and verbal communication skills
- Strong interpersonal skills
- Good organisational, multitasking, and project management skills
- Flexibility and adaptability
- Strong grasp of numeracy
- Excellent computer literacy and familiarity with computerised processes used in clinical trials
- Solid understanding of GCP and how this is used in practice
- Strong attention to detail
- Ability to manage own workload and prioritise tasks to meet strict deadlines
What is the Average Salary of a CRA?
CRA salaries will vary depending on the employer but based on roles currently being advertised on PharmiWeb.Jobs, a CRA working in England can earn a salary anywhere between £30,000 and £60,000+ depending on the level of seniority.
How is the Role of a CRA Evolving?
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began and more organisations have turned to decentralized clinical trials, more opportunities are opening up for remote and hybrid CRA roles. There are currently more than 500 homeworking roles in clinical research on PharmiWeb.Jobs, and this number is expected to rise in the coming years.