At DZS, our recruiting and staffing services division talks to a lot of potential candidates. Some with significant specific job experience; however, we also talk to a lot of candidates who come to us for advice on how to break into the field. We do our best to give them good career advice and outline both the good and the bad of a career in this industry. Here, we’ve compiled some of the best advice we’ve given or heard…
First, a career in clinical research can be daunting. It can be filled with exhausting unpredictability, long hours, and meager entry-level pay. For all of you masochists like me who are still reading, you must like pain. That, or you understand that this industry can also lead to a rewarding career with a plethora of possibilities. For all of you, let me begin by telling you about some of the exciting ways to break into this field.
Clinical research is a highly regulated field, which involves testing medicines and devices for safety and effectiveness. These often involve conducting trials on patients. Entry-level positions such as Clinical Trial Associates and Clinical Data Associates are great segues into this field. Because of the importance of this work, vast amounts of data need be sifted through and analyzed; likewise, subjects need be processed and handled. These important steps in a clinical trial make your entry level job all the more important. Although it may seem like repetitive work, your job is actually the administrative backbone of this important process that ultimately has life saving possibilities. Positions like these usually require some sort of human sciences background. But for those of who may be shifting careers, let me give you a broad overview of some other skills that can transfer easily.
For starters, let me point out that any background in the sciences can usually transfer to your clinical dream career. A Bachelors degree in Biology or Chemistry for example is good, as well as experience in any other related career (e.g. lab technician, nurse, basic sciences researcher). Alternatively, administrative backgrounds can also be a great way to branch into the industry. Experience with document review, contract research, and patient intake can also all be great skill sets to bring to attention when trying to land your first clinical research role. Essential transferable skills also include precise attention to detail, excelling under pressure, and the ability to meet tight deadlines. Bring these up in an interview and there’s no way you can get turned down for the job!
There you have it, an overview of the Clinical Research Industry and how you can break into an entry-level role. If you’re still reading, then you must be past the masochist point and on to determination. Good for you. Don’t get too overwhelmed with the process. While seemingly daunting, there is a place in the Clinical Research arena for everyone. And who knows, maybe you can be on your way to discovering that new popular drug?
Some good resources for further research include:
- Portney, Leslie Gross. Foundations of Clinical Research: Applications to Practice. Third Edition. 2008
- Holdasham, J.P. CRA Jobs: A guide to six figure Clinical Research associate income in clinical research monitoring. 2013