How Much Do Clinical Research Associates Make?

Clinical Research Associates (CRA) are crucial components of the research teams.

CRAs ensure the safety of its participants and the smooth operation of expensive research trials.

With so much money invested in these clinical research trials, CRAs are well compensated for the stress and responsibilities imposed on them. How much? We’re going to tell you, and we’ll also answer other questions you may have pertaining to this job along the way! 

How Much Do CRAs Make?

We all know it’s important to actually enjoy our career, but some of us cringe away from looking into a job’s possible compensation. We’re here to tell you there is no need to feel shame when researching careers and having income be a factor in your decision. 

Now, the question you likely clicked on this article to get an answer to, how much do clinical research associates earn? You may be surprised to learn that CRAs are well compensated for the time and effort it takes them to enter into this career. How well, you ask? 

The median annual salary of a Clinical Research Associate, according to O’net, is a whopping $129,100! And this is just the median figure, which means that many individuals working in this profession earn much more money each year. If you break down the salary above into hourly pay, you will find that CRAs are earning around $62.07 per hour. Only the bottom 10% of CRAs nationally earn below $66,050, while conversely, the top 10% will take home a hefty amount of money, amounting to $208,000 or more yearly!

These are pretty jaw-dropping statistics for a job that typically only requires a bachelor’s degree, but we’ll talk more about what it takes to become a CRA below. As of 2018, there were an estimated 63,500 individuals employed as CRAs in the US, and the profession is expected to grow at a rate of about 5% between 2018 and 2028. 

How Much Does a Clinical Trial Monitor Make? 

This question is easy to answer but is slightly layered as the financial data for a clinical trial monitor is lumped into that of a CRA. A clinical trial monitor can sometimes fall under the job title of clinical research associate or clinical research coordinator, which is a separate and distinct job from a clinical research associate. 

Clinical trial monitors may go by the other, possibly better-recognized title of a clinical research associate, but are sometimes confused with the title of clinical research coordinators (CRCs), which, as the name suggests, are the people involved with coordinating the various aspects of a research study. CRCs have to take an entirely different credentials examination than those wishing to become CRAs because each of these jobs has different responsibilities and requires specialized knowledge.

What Does a Clinical Research Associate Do?

Like CRCs, CRAs work within a research study to coordinate and monitor the clinical trial’s progression. CRAs utilize Good Clinical Practice (GCP) guidelines based on the recommendations of the International Council on Harmonisation of Technical Requirements for Registration of Pharmaceuticals for Human Use (ICH)

If a CRA’s primary job is to monitor the activities of a clinical trial, then what distinguishes this job from a CRC? The difference is that CRAs work more directly with the organization or people that are sponsoring and paying for the study to ensure that the study is conducted humanely and ethically, while CRCs are more involved with the day-to-day operation of an individual clinical research trial location, in which there may be many. CRCs work more directly with research participants and those conducting the clinical research. 

How Do I Become a Clinical Research Associate in USA? 

There are a few paths to becoming a CRA, the most common of which is earning a bachelor’s degree in clinical research or a related health subject. Although a clinical bachelor’s degree is not an absolute disqualifier to become a CRA, earning a clinical degree can significantly decrease the amount of work experience needed to become credentialed. 

Those who decide not to pursue a clinical research degree will need to get employed in helping with a clinical research trial and spend a minimum of 3,000 hours learning all the intricacies of this job. Those who earn a clinical degree will only need to gain 1,500 hours of experience working in a clinical trial before becoming eligible to take the 125-question certification exam offered through The Association of Clinical Research Professionals (ACRP). There is also an international certification exam to become a Certified Clinical Research Professional (CCRP®) offered by The Society of Clinical Research Associates (SOCRA).