How do I Become a Clinical Research Coordinator?

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  • Written By: Elva K.
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 12 May 2019
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A clinical research coordinator oversees clinical trials that involve testing of medications or other health interventions. The work might involve filling out required safety documents, submitting the safety documents to any safety boards providing oversight, making certain all data obtained is correctly recorded, and making certain that clinical trials meet Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval. A clinical research coordinator is also involved with data collection from participants and is instrumental in making suggestions if there are problems with the data collection. If you wish to become a clinical research coordinator, you generally will need a college degree and possibly a postgraduate degree to maximize your career potential.

Of note, if you pursue a specialized associate's degree, you can become a clinical research coordinator. One example of such an associate's degree is the associate's degree and certificate in clinical research coordinator studies that is awarded by the Mayo School of Health Sciences (MSHS) and the Rochester Community and Technical College (RCTC). Attainment of a degree such as this could be a useful beginning for your career.


Granted, to qualify for jobs which include a higher level of responsibility and higher pay, most likely, it will be necessary for you to earn a four-year college degree. Specifically, it can be helpful to get a bachelor's degree majoring in chemistry or a health-related field such as biology or nursing so you can become a clinical research coordinator. Chemistry, biology, or nursing coursework is relevant because those majors tend to focus on topics that are relevant to a career in medical research.

Getting a graduate degree is not always necessary. Given the competitiveness of the job market though, having a graduate degree could distinguish you from the competition and may result in you finding employment more easily. For example, depending on what your bachelor's degree major is, when it is time for your graduate degree, you could choose to pursue either the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree in chemistry to become a clinical research coordinator.

Earning certification is not required; however, it can help your career because certification demonstrates your expertise and commitment to a career in medical research. The Association of Clinical Research Professionals (ACRP) offers the opportunity for certification. Completing the ACRP certification requires passing the ACRP exam after having had at least two years of full-time work experience or an equivalent amount of part-time work experience.

If you have been a clinical research coordinator and if you are ready to move into a different career, there are options. For example, you could go back to graduate school to earn a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree in chemistry, biology, or nursing so that you can teach college courses. Or you could become a human resources recruiter for a third party staffing agency that recruits clinical research coordinators and places them into jobs.



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