Clinical study coordinator

How to Become a Clinical Research Coordinator

We’ve all had that sneaky nerdy fantasy of a CSI-style lab coat and some cute glasses, surrounded by test tubes and fancy centrifuges spinning endless vials of DNA. We obviously can’t guarantee that becoming a clinical study coordinator will be all that, but we can give you all the information – salary, job description, qualifications needed, and more.

This is a growing field involved in science and research – testing out ground-breaking medications, clinical trials, vaccines, or even investigating the world around us. The best bit? You could be playing one of the most crucial roles – and maybe even making the world a better place at the same time.

So, what does a clinical study coordinator do?

Every year, thousands of scientists worldwide are conducting HUNDREDS of experiments in as many different fields. However, clinical research coordinators most commonly participate in studies involving drug and product testing, clinical trials, and social sciences (e.g., psychology).

To put it simply, a clinical research coordinator is to clinical research what a hinge is to a door.

Quite literally, clinical research would fall apart without one.

As a clinical research coordinator, your primary responsibilities are to work closely with the principal researcher and to make sure the study or clinical trial runs as smoothly as possible.

Some of your duties could be:

  • Administration, such as planning, organizing, and scheduling
  • Preparing and writing up a scientific research proposal
  • Managing a budget and organizing funding
  • Developing materials for the research to be executed smoothly
  • Participating in research activities, e.g., conducting interviews, surveys, etc.
  • Making contact with patients and ensuring their welfare and safety during the study
  • Ensuring research activities are ethical and accurate
  • Writing up any necessary documentation, e.g., reports

8 Core competencies

What do I need to know, and what will they expect from me?

Glad you asked. According to Harvard University, there are eight core competencies of an excellent clinical research coordinator:

  1. Communication and collaboration with the principal, other research team members, and more is critical. You will also need to communicate with research participants.
  2. Understand the scientific concepts studied, know the principles of designing high-quality research studies, and manage research findings accurately and ethically.
  3. Become familiar with good ethical practices around patient management and protection.
  4. Understand relevant theory and practice regarding how medication and products are developed and regulated.
  5. Collaborate with relevant stakeholders to conduct safe and ethical research.
  6. Manage the study site well, including financial responsibilities, working with team members and research participants, and executing the research tasks and activities.
  7. Know the principles of collecting and using research data ethically and accurately to produce high-quality research findings.
  8. Clinical research coordinators must demonstrate good leadership skills and a high degree of professionalism in all their activities.

Clinical study coordinator salary & more FAQ’s

  • Your salary as a clinical study coordinator can be between $57 300-$139 000 or more per year or between $31-$67 per hour
  • Positions can be office-based positions, or remote, depending on the employer.
  • Typical clinical research coordinators work 40 hours/week or more in a standard 9 to 5 structure.

How do I qualify?

To become a clinical research coordinator, you need to have a Bachelor’s degree in science or a health-related field as a minimum. However, some people have also worked in this field with an Associate degree.

You might consider taking college-level subjects such as biochemistry, biophysics, health care administration or management, mathematics, epidemiology, physical sciences, or anatomy.

You may also advance your career by completing postgraduate courses, ranging from certificates to a Master’s degree.

Do I need a license to work?

Once you have completed your education, you may need some work experience before being licensed as a clinical research coordinator.

You will also need professional registration or certification through the Association of Clinical Research Professionals (ACRP) or the Society of Clinical Research Associates (SOCRA). You will need to have met all the requirements for registration and write an exam. However, the registration category you apply for will depend on your work experience and academic training.

What skills would be helpful?

These personal qualities may come in useful when working as a clinical research coordinator:

  • Having a high degree of attention to detail
  • Able to tolerate a high-paced environment.
  • Have good time management skills.
  • Have a high capacity for responsibility.
  • Able to delegate tasks to others.
  • Have a deep respect for ethical principles.
  • Can be assertive and confident, not overbearing and controlling.
  • Have strong social and communication skills.
  • Have good empathy to relate to patients and other research professionals.

How do I know if my personality would be compatible with this job?

Ah, the million-dollar question. 

While we may not find jobs that fit our personalities completely, it sure goes a long way to help us feel as if we’re doing something that suits us.

As a person interested in working as a clinical research coordinator, you might have a thirst for knowledge and hunger to ask questions and find answers. You may also have good organizational skills and find it easy to read and follow instructions. Moreover, you may also be a natural leader and enjoy working with people.

So, there you have it.

There is no limit on the kinds of things you could be involved in with a job like this. Therefore, who knows? You could be working on the next cure for cancer.

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