If you’ve spent some time working as a clinical research associate (CRA) and are looking to advance your career, you might be wondering where to start. For ambitious and dedicated CRAs, fast tracking your career could be more feasible than you think.
Here are three ways to advance your career in clinical research.
To learn more about what it takes to progress from a CRA to a project manager or clinical trial manager position in less than two years, register for this free webinar hosted by trial experts from ICON’s functional service provision (FSP) division, DOCS.
1. Take Advantage of CRO Training Programs
If you currently work for a large clinical research organization (CRO) — or are looking to find a new position with a leading service provider — don’t discount the power of on-the-job training opportunities to advance your career. While many CROs provide their CRAs with mandatory training modules, there are often additional, optional courses that can speed up promotional opportunities.
For example, ICON — one of the largest CROs that partners with global top 20 pharmaceutical companies — is keenly focused on supporting CRA career development and offers education and training through its iLearn platform. This type of self-driven professional development can prepare you for more senior roles within clinical research.
In addition, ICON runs a graduate program to train the next generation of clinical researchers. The company looks for recent graduates of life science and nursing programs from a number of universities across North America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region. Promising clinical researchers who complete ICON’s graduate program will have the opportunity to start their career as a permanent CRA with the company.
2. Find a Mentor
One of the best ways to figure out how to take the next step in your career as a CRA is to talk to someone who has already advanced to a more senior position. In many cases, this will a project manager or line manager who has previous experience as a CRA.
A mentor can act as a valuable resource to help you realize your career development goals and outline the steps necessary to achieve them. They’ll often suggest specific areas in which you should concentrate your efforts to gain new knowledge and skills and can let you know when advancement opportunities are coming down the pipeline.
And since CROs like ICON often have a structured career path for clinical research professionals, mentors can help you navigate your short-term and long-term career goals.
3. Leverage Your Unique Experience
People come to clinical research from a multitude of different backgrounds, from nursing to pharmacy. Celebrate and apply your unique experience by identifying what your previous roles help you bring to your job as a CRA.
Perhaps you have prior experience working as a hospital volunteer which fueled your drive to serve patients by working in clinical research. Maybe you worked as a clinical research coordinator (CRC) at a site and learned first-hand the importance of organization when maintaining patient records and facilitating the trial process.
Regardless of what you did before you started your career as a CRA, your prior experiences will undoubtedly shape how you approach your work in clinical research. CRAs who are able to recognize the value of their unique background will have a better chance of applying those learnings to their current, and future, roles as they advance in their career.
If you’re ready to fast track your career as a CRA, join this webinar to learn about how managers at a top CRO identify high-potential professionals.