Beginner CRA


How to Get the CRA Job Part 1: What Experience You Need and How to Maximize it


I often hear people say that they have master’s degrees or PhD degrees or even a medical degree but they have been unsuccessful in getting a CRA position.

Why is that?

It’s because recruiters and hiring managers don’t care.

Nope, sadly, recruiters and hiring managers absolutely do not care about your advanced degree.

What they care about is your experience. Specifically, your monitoring experience.

Now don’t get me wrong, if you do not have at least a bachelors in a science major or a Nursing degree you NEED to get that asap, if you are serious about this career path. However, other than that it’s not a must to have masters until you are ready to move on to higher level positions (we’ll cover that another time).

Now that you know this you need to focus your attention on getting monitoring experience.

Oh boy how do you do that? Its tough because monitoring positions (CRA positions) require 2 years of experience. But if someone cannot get hired unless they have 2 years of experience, how on earth could they ever possibly get this experience?

The trick is to get an opportunity where you can be developed.

Get an entry level clinical research assistant job at a CRO.


  1. CROs have high turnover and they hire a lot
  2. CROs are willing to hire entry level and train

Now here is where the maximization comes in!

Don’t get hired and sit on your butt. You don’t want to stay an assistant! You need to be a Clinical Research Associate. You want to travel and you want to get PAID!

Spend 2 years learning the basics of how clinical trials are conducted and what goes on between Sponsors-PIs- Study Coordinators-CRAs, and Project Managers

While you are there you need to be making it very clear to your manager what your goals are professionally he/she can help you achieve it by exposing you to training and co monitoring and shadowing experience.

This experience is enough for you to get your CRA position either within your current CRO or in another one or at a pharmaceutical company.

Now go, your future awaits.


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10 comments on “How to Get the CRA Job Part 1: What Experience You Need and How to Maximize it

  1. melissa
    July 13, 2014

    Makes sense! I wish I had known this a year ago!

  2. Elias
    July 20, 2014

    But as an RN the difference in pay between clinical research assistant or CTA and RN can be an issue if commencing this carrier as a clinical research assistant.

    • beginnercra
      July 24, 2014

      Yes this is something to consider when you make your career change is the long term goal worth taking a temporary pay cut? It is dependent of the individual and their specific goals.

    • beginnercra
      August 12, 2014

      Yes this is true and important to consider for some to switch to the clinical research assistant role you will have to make a conscience decision whether it is worth it to sacrifice a very significant pay cut today for a long term career in pharmaceutics.


  3. nikki
    August 12, 2014

    Thanks for the info, but what is a CRO?

    • beginnercra
      August 12, 2014

      No problem. CRO stand for Contract Research Organization theses are companies that pharmaceutical companies higher to conduct clinical trials for them

      • nikki
        August 13, 2014

        Thanks for the info! Can you tell me why they have such a high turnover rate? Is the pay pretty bad? Also, what should I put in my resume to make me more likely to get one of the associate positions? I currently work as a medical lab scientist and am looking to change careers.

      • beginnercra
        September 16, 2014

        Hi Nikki,

        I was doing CV reviews before but things picked up at work so I am taking a break. I will start up again when things slow down so stay posted. The turnover is high because its a demanding job. Check out my post:

  4. Nina
    October 23, 2014

    Hi Sara,

    How would you go about making it clear to your manager that ultimately you would like to be a CRA?

    • beginnercra
      January 7, 2015

      Well Nina,

      Part of you manager’s role is to provide guidance in career development. If she/him is not having these types of conversations with you at least once a year, you need to bring it up with her. Simply say that you would like to talk about your career goals with the company and setting up a time to talk.

      Hope that helps

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