Career progression can be different depending on company and business environment. However, with motivation and previous experience showing success in clinical research, one should be able to progress either within the same company or at another company. Below are different levels of CRA title that we can use as a rough guide in gauging CRA career progression:
- CRA I – starting level with 1-2 years of experience. CRA I may be working on different parts of clinical trial, such as setting up trial master files, document preparation, and site correspondence. Some supervision from more senior CRA may be needed to help guide CRA I on different clinical trial related functions.
- CRA II – mid level with 3-5 years of experience. CRA II should be working on all stages of clinical trial. Job function can range from clinical trial design and planning, protocol and form generation, site selection, monitoring, to clinical report generation. CRA II should be working independently with little or some supervision from more senior CRA.
- CRA III / Senior CRA / Lead CRA – senior level with 5 or more years of experience. CRA III, Sr. CRA, or Lead CRA should be able to perform any of the clinical trial tasks proficiently. They are also expected to supervise, train, and mentor more junior CRA.
Beyond A CRA Role
Many CRAs may choose to remain in CRA role as a career. Some CRAs may become consultants after gaining years of experience. Beyond a CRA role, career progression may include management role such as:
- Clinical trial or clinical affairs manager
- Senior clinical trial or clinical affairs manager
- Associate director of clinical research
- Director / vice president of clinical research
The sky is the limit for opportunities and career progression beyond a CRA role. One note is that advance degree (M.D., Ph.D., MBA, etc.) may be advantage as one progress higher in clinical research career.