In addition to experience and career accomplishments, certification can provide added credentials for CRAs to progress further. It is common to see job advertisements that list certification as one of the preferred quality a candidate should possess. Certification shows that a CRA is willing to go the extra step to pursue professional certification. Below are the 2 main clinical research organizations (ACRP and SOCRA) that are well recognized among those in the industry and the type of certifications that they offer.
1. The Association of Clinical Research Professionals (ACRP)
The Association of Clinical Research Professionals (ACRP) is one of the two clinical research professional organizations that are well recognized. Here is a link to ACRP website. http://www.acrpnet.org/ ACRP is the older (established in 1976) and the larger of the two organizations with more members worldwide. ACRP offers membership, certifications, classes, conferences, career resources, and job posting. ACRP also offers online forum and local chapter meeting around the world for networking opportunities and learning events.
As for certification, ACRP offers a certification for clinical research coordinator (CRC), which is called certified clinical research coordinator (CCRC). I had a CCRC certification when I was working at a hospital site as a CRC. ACRP also offers a certification for clinical research associate (CRA), which is called certified clinical research associate (CCRA). Below are some steps for a CRA to be certified CCRA through ACRP:
- Become an ACRP member ($150 annual membership fee in United States, $60 annual membership fee for emerging market – electronic membership)
- Register for CRA certification exam ($460 – $600 fee, must meet one of the eligibility options below and provide detailed CV/resume and job description. See link below for more details) http://www.acrpnet.org/MainMenuCategory/Certification/CRACertification/eligibility-for-the-CCRA-Program.aspx)
|Option||Education||Minimum CRA Work Experience|
|1.||Bachelor’s degree (or higher) or Registered Nurse (RN)||3,000 Hours|
|2.||Associate’s degree||4,500 Hours|
|3.||Other, such as LPN, LVN, Medical Assistant, Lab Technician or High School diploma||6,000 Hours|
Note: Clinical research education may substitute for 1,500 hours of CRA work experience. See http://www.acrpnet.org/MainMenuCategory/Certification/CRACertification/eligibility-for-the-CCRA-Program.aspx for full details.
- Take and Pass CCRA examination
- Renew CCRA certification every 2 years ($215 – $325 renewal fee)
- Report twenty-four (24) contact hours / points every two (2) years or
- Take the current Certification Exam
2. The Society of Clinical Research Associates (SOCRA)
The Society of Clinical Research Associates (SOCRA) is the newer of the two clinical research professional organizations. It was established in 1991. Similar to ACRP, SOCRA is well recognized among those in the industry. Here is a link to SOCRA website. http://www.socra.org/ SOCRA offers membership, certifications, classes, conferences, career resources, and job posting. SOCRA does not offer online forum. But SOCRA does have local chapter meeting around the world for networking opportunities and learning events.
As for certification, SOCRA is different than ACRP in its approach. Instead of offering separate certification for clinical research coordinator (CRC) and clinical research associate (CRA), SOCRA offers one certification for both. This is called certified clinical research professional (CCRP). Of note, I am a certified CCRP through SOCRA. Below are some steps for a CRA to be certified CCRP through SOCRA:
- Become a SOCRA member ($75 annual membership fee)
- Register for CCRP certification exam ($395 fee, must meet one of the eligibility options below and provide detailed CV/resume, verification of employment, and job description. See link below for more details)
|1.||Have two years of experience as a full-time Clinical Research Professional (or have 3,500 hours part-time) during the last five years|
|2||Hold a degree in “Clinical Research” from an Associate, Undergraduate, or Graduate Degree Program AND Have completed a minimum of one year of full-time experience (or 1,750 hours part-time) during the past two years as a Clinical Research Professional|
|3.||Hold an Undergraduate or Graduate Certificate in “Clinical Research” with a curriculum of no less than 12 semester (credit) hours or totaling a minimum of 144 credit hours from an academic institution of higher learning (community college, college or university) ANDHold an Associate’s or Bachelor’s Degree in a science, health science, pharmacy or related field ANDHave completed a minimum of one year of full-time experience (or 1750 hours part-time) during the past two years as a Clinical Research Professional.|
- Take and Pass CCRP examination
- Renew CCRP certification every 3 years (maintain membership during the 3 year period, $75 fee/year AND $100 processing fee)
- Report 45 continuing education hours every three (3) years AND
- Take the recertification knowledge quiz (open-book quiz)
ACRP vs. SOCRA Certification Comparison
Both ACRP and SOCRA are well recognized among those in the industry. The decision to choose between ACRP and SOCRA for a CRA may come down to the consideration below:
Which organization to be a member of?
ACRP is older and has more members
Which eligibility requirements to apply to?
SOCRA’s CCRP is available to anyone who has worked full time in the field of clinical research for at least 2 years as a Clinical Research Professional.
ACRP’s CCRA is available to only those meeting specific CRA/monitoring job functions
How much studying to put in to pass the exam?
SOCRA’s CCRP exam is easier (unofficial opinion from my own experience and from what I heard from friends and colleagues over the years)
How often to renew the certification and the no. of continuing education credit needed?
ACRP requires 24 credits every 2 years (12 credits/year)
SOCRA requires 45 credits every 3 years (15 credits/year)
How much are the costs of membership and maintaining certification?
Below are some estimates of total cost (assuming membership is maintained during renewal period)
|Cost Comparison||Membership||Exam Fee||Renewal Fee||Total|
|ACRP||$150/yr = $300/2 yr||$460-$600||$215-$325||$975-$1225|
|SOCRA||$75/yr = $225/3 yr||$395||$350 (including membership fee)||$820|
Why I chose SOCRA CCRP
I had ACRP’s CCRC certification when I was a CRC in 2010. I chose not to renew the CCRC certification after becoming a CRA soon after. I have been SOCRA’s CCRP certified since September 2013. The reason for SOCRA’s CCRP certification for me was due to lower cost and longer period of renewal.
For those considering SOCRA’s CCRP certification, I have a study guide that helped me passed the exam with 96% out of 100% grade (Click here to see my SOCRA Examination Results 26Sep2013_Redacted). This study guide contains the notes that I compiled for my own study. Even though materials on the notes are from publicly available sources (ICH GCP, FDA’s CFR, resources from internet, etc.), I find the vast amount of information to be too overwhelming, especially with limited study time in between my daily workload. This note includes summaries of information in easy to read format, as well as my own knowledge and experience in clinical research. I bring both clinical research coordinator (CRC)’s and clinical research associate (CRA)’s perspective, as I had worked in both roles in my career. If you are interested in this study guide, click HERE to read more. You can also click “Add to Cart” below to purchase.
By clicking “add to cart” you agree to the license agreement terms
Photo credit: Fake diploma, by gadgetdude, flickr
- CRA Career Development
- Education and Skills Needed for a CRA
- Email/Download Troubleshoot & FAQs for ES' SOCRA CCRP Study Guide
- ES' SOCRA CCRP Study Guide
- How to Get Into a CRA Role
- Purchasing Multiple Copies of the ES' SOCRA CCRP Study Guide
- Recommended Books
- What is CRA?