Why You Should Consider Clinical Research Jobs in Virginia - On Board Virginia

Why You Should Consider Clinical Research Jobs in Virginia

Posted on Jan 30, 2024

Clinical research plays a pivotal role in advancing medical knowledge and improving patient outcomes. With mounting efforts to streamline Virginia’s clinical research sector and increase research activities, clinical research jobs are a hot topic in the state. Read on to learn about popular career opportunities at clinical research organizations, educational requirements, and more.

Ready for a rewarding career in clinical research? Your next opportunity could be waiting on On Board Virginia’s job board. Dive in now and make your move!

What Is Clinical Research?

Clinical research covers the study of illness and health in people. Unlike laboratory research, clinical researchers work with people to observe how medical advancements affect the human body and if they’re viable solutions.

There are two types of clinical research:

Observational Studies – Rather than performing an experiment, an observational study involves monitoring participants in their normal environment over time and collecting medical data, sometimes through biological samples.

The goal is to identify trends in medical data to form a hypothesis about a situation. Observational studies can identify associations between things but can’t prove causation. A hypothesis from an observational trial can be tested through clinical trials.

Clinical Trials – Clinical trials study medical interventions such as tools, drugs, and procedures to understand the treatment’s efficacy.

The main goals include testing ways to diagnose diseases earlier, discovering preventative approaches to avoid health issues, and improving the quality of life of people with chronic illnesses or life-threatening issues.

Clinical research organizations (CROs) work closely with companies and institutions related to academics, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, and other life sciences to ensure their breakthroughs benefit public health.

Is Clinical Research a Stable Career Field in Virginia?

Clinical research is a growing sector in Virginia, contributing about $8 billion annually to the state’s economy with over 26,500 employees.

A recent study by Huron Consulting Group has found that Virginia has similar resources to some of the top states in biopharmaceutical economic output and clinical research activity. Statewide institutional efforts by the Virginia Coordinated Clinical Research Network (VCCRN) are working to leverage Virginia’s strong resources to drive clinical research activity at scale.

Internationally, the biotech market was valued at about $1.37 trillion in 2022 and is poised to grow at a compound annual rate of about 14% from 2023 to 2030.

As a result, clinical research jobs are expected to continue increasing to meet demand, making them ideal career paths!

How to Get Started in Clinical Research

Most clinical research jobs require some form of higher education and/or experience. However, the actual requirements will vary depending on the hiring institution. It’s best to start with a job description in your target specialty or from your ideal CRO to understand what specific requirements you’ll need to pursue.

We recommend starting with this career lattice published by the Association of Clinical Research Professionals (ACRP). It breaks down several clinical roles by education, progression, and clinical experience.

Best Degrees for Clinical Research

Degree requirements will vary depending on the role and CRO, though clinical research professionals typically have bachelor’s degrees in:

  • Nursing
  • Biology
  • Pharmacology
  • Psychology
  • Health sciences
  • Clinical research, administration, product development, or science

  • As you grow in your career, you may pursue more advanced degrees to stand out.

    Clinical research experience can also play a large role in pursuing job opportunities. Entry-level clinical research positions like a clinical trial assistant (or a clinical research coordinator if you have a degree) can help you gain first-hand experience in a medical research setting. Being familiar with common medical terminology through medical assistant courses or online clinical research training can also boost your chances.

    Types of Clinical Research Jobs

    Two of the most common roles in clinical research include a clinical research coordinator (CRC) and a clinical research associate (CRA). But there are several positions that support clinical research depending on your expertise and employer.

    If you’re more data-oriented, you may consider becoming a data manager or a biostatistician. On the content side, medical writers are essential in communicating research and breakthroughs effectively. From project managers, research billing experts, and patient recruiters to medical technicians—the list goes on and on!

    We’ve included some popular picks below. Please note that salary ranges vary widely depending on location, experience, education level, and living costs.

    Clinical Trial Assistant (CTA)

    A clinical trial assistant, also known as a clinical research assistant or a research assistant, is an entry-level clinical research role. CTAs work as part of a larger team to facilitate clinical trials according to protocol. Common duties include administrative tasks, patient assistance, and data entry. This role is a great way to enter the field and start advancing.

    The average annual salary for a CTA in Virginia is about $51,000, but will vary based on experience. A high school diploma or equivalent is required, though a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field is preferred.

    Clinical Research Coordinator (CRC)

    A clinical research coordinator is responsible for the day-to-day operations for clinical research studies and trials, including screening patients, ensuring safe practices, gathering data, and developing reports. They work under a supervising principal investigator and a clinical trial manager.

    The average annual salary for a CRO in Virginia is about $57,000. A bachelor’s degree in healthcare or science in a relevant field is generally required. Experience in a clinical trial setting is recommended but not required.

    Clinical Research Associate (CRA)

    A clinical research associate, sometimes called a “monitor,” is a liaison between the organizations sponsoring the clinical research trial and the clinics performing the research. They typically don’t work directly with patients, instead working to develop proper clinical trial protocols, outlining trial objectives, and ensuring procedural and safety compliance.

    The average annual salary for a CRA in Virginia is about $64,000. A bachelor’s degree in healthcare or science in a relevant field is generally required. Additional certifications such as the Certified Clinical Research Associate (CCRA) and Certified Clinical Research Professional (CCRP) credentials can help candidates stand out.

    Clinical Project Manager

    A clinical project manager oversees clinical research studies and clinical trials. While clinical research coordinators focus on hands-on research work, clinical project managers are responsible for overall project planning and execution. Core responsibilities might include strategy, budget management, and people management to guide project success.

    The average annual salary for a clinical project manager in Virginia is about $128,000 but scales depending on education, experience, and location. A bachelor’s degree in a relevant field such as biology, life sciences, or a health-related field is required. Many clinical project managers also have a master’s degree in business or public administration.

    You may also consider pursuing professional certifications or courses such as the ACRP-PM specialty.

    Clinical Data Manager

    A clinical data manager ensures the clinical trial accurately collects necessary data based on established protocols. They develop the technical specifications for data management programs, validate incoming data, and resolve data issues as they arise.

    The average annual salary for a clinical data manager in Virginia is about $120,000 but scales depending on education, experience, and location. A bachelor’s degree in a relevant field such as biology, IT, statistics, and business and a master’s degree in a relevant field such as computer science, engineering, and health informatics are required.

    You may also consider certificate programs in health informatics, biometrics, and clinical data management.

    Your Future Awaits in Clinical Research Jobs

    Take advantage of clinical research jobs to find rewarding career opportunities! Virginia’s increasing investment in clinical research is paving the way for more clinical research positions. While healthcare and clinical research-related degrees are helpful in a CRO setting, some entry-level roles focus more on building experience in the field. On-the-job training can translate into more advanced positions.

    Start with a CRO and job description, then work backward from the requirements to understand where you land. For specialized educational courses, use our map of Virginia universities to find relevant clinical research programs!