What Education is Needed to Become an Clinical Research Coordinator?

A Clinical Research Coordinator is responsible for conducting research and collecting data to record the results of a clinical trial.

If you are interested in working in a clinical setting as a researcher, you will need to pursue an education and then get the relevant experience that will be needed to land yourself a job.

There are several different paths that potential clinical coordinators take in the research setting. Some are much more direct than others. If your goal is to enter the field as quickly as possible, here are the steps that you will need to take.

Get a Bachelor’s Degree in Clinical Research

There are a long list of different degree programs that you can take if you want to work in clinical research. Sifting through your options and ultimately choosing the right path can be extremely difficult as educational requirements vary by employer. One of the best options for students to pursue is a degree that is specifically in clinical research.

A 4-year Bachelor’s degree majoring in Clinical Research will prepare you to be well-versed in:

  • human-oriented research
  • safety
  • products
  • research ethics

You will take 2 years of prerequisite courses and then an additional 2 years of studies that are strictly focused on topics in the field. Some of the courses that you can expect to take include:

  • Intro to Clinical Research
  • Scientific Writing
  • Scientific Literature
  • Regulation
  • Product Development
  • Data Management
  • Bioethics
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Human Anatomy
  • Microbiology

These are just some of the common core courses.

Study to Become an LPN or RN

It is important to review the educational requirements of specific employers before you assume that a B.S. is all you will need to land a job. In some hospital research labs, employers  look specifically for a Licensed Practical Nurse or a Registered Nurse to fill the clinical research coordinator role. If this is a requirement and you have already earned a B.S. degree, look for an accelerated program where you can apply a majority of your coursework to your nursing degree.

Certificate Programs for Health Professionals

If you already have a nursing degree and you’re interested in transitioning your career, you can take a certificate program to prepare you for the nuances of the career. You can use your nursing degree as a prerequisite to get into the certificate program. Then you will be expected to complete about 6 courses to learn statistics and clinical research methodologies.

Get Some Work Experience

While you do have to complete an internship and research projects to earn your degree, you will still need to get experience in a clinical research setting before you will earn the coordinator title. It is possible that you could find an associate role with an undergraduate degree. Associates work under coordinators and follow their instruction.

Get Certified

Once you have evidence of full-time employment in a clinical research setting, you will eligible for certification through the Society of Clinical Research Associates. To become a Certified Clinical Research Professional, you will need to meet experience or education eligibility requirements. You will then need to sit for the CCRP exam where you will be tested to prove you are competent in the field.

As a certified professional, you will be much more likely to land a coordinator title. Just be sure to look for areas where there is a high demand for clinical research before you accept a position. It’s a competitive profession.  You might want to consider earning your graduate degree to become a successful clinical research coordinator.

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