How to Become a CRA

Clinical RecruitmentAny Clinical Research Associate (CRA) will tell you that the path to get there was not easy! Many CRAs have a nursing or medical background and in many cases experienced a steady career progression from the Clinical Research Coordinator (CRC) role.  While there is no definite career path to becoming a CRA, here are some good clinical trial staffing tips for CRCs wanting to transition into monitoring.

  1. Create a LinkedIn Profile: There are literally thousands of CRAs, Clinical Managers and Clinical Recruiters on LinkedIn and you should connect with them to build your network. If you want to change roles, you have to be found, and building a quality LinkedIn Profile is a great first step.
  2. Network with companies and groups on LinkedIn:  There are hundreds of targeted Clinical Research LinkedIn groups as well as groups for CROs, Pharmas, Medical Device and Biotech companies.  All of these groups have active discussions and job boards.  Join these groups and participate!  But be careful; if you aren’t perfectly professional in every interaction, your bad impression will cost you.
  3. Network with other CRAs:  If you are currently a CRC, you have valuable insider knowledge as to what CRAs are specifically looking for when they come to your site. Be sure to network with the CRAs who monitor your clinical sites so you can leverage who they know and what they know.
  4. Do Your Homework: Understand the main differences between being a CRA versus being a CRC.  For example, patient interaction is a primary focus for a CRC and it is your number one concern to ensure patient safety.  A CRA, however, typically doesn’t have that direct patient contact and while the CRA also cares about patient safety, the role is mostly focused on the adherence to the Sponsor’s protocol and FDA regulations. So if having that patient contact is important to you, becoming a CRA may not be the best fit for you.
  5. Take Classes: You can become a certified clinical research professional through ACRP and SoCRA. Are you weighing if becoming certified it is worth it?  We have a blog post outlining the pros and cons of holding a CRA certification, but you should visit ( and ( for more information. 
  6. Apply to CROs: The “big 5” are currently Quintiles, PPD, PAREXEL, PRA International, and ICON. These companies are well known for their training programs and after working with them for a couple of years you will be incredibly competitive.  You should apply as an entry level CRA and try your luck!

We do realize how difficult it is to “break” into the CRA role, but it isn’t impossible!

Written by: Jessica Nguyen 

Investing in a Lifetime of Success,

Angela Roberts

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