Master's in Clinical Research: Salary and Career Facts

Clinical research involves developing new medicines and healthcare technologies. Read on to find out more about a master's degree program in clinical research, related careers, certification options and potential salary. Schools offering Clinical Laboratory Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What is a Master's Degree in Clinical Research?

A Master of Science in Clinical Science, Master of Arts in Clinical Investigation and a Master of Science in Clinical Research are all very similar programs which are found primarily in schools of public health, medicine and pharmacy. These degree programs are typically aimed at clinical health professionals, such as physicians, nurses, dentists or pharmacists, who are interested in learning to research, develop and test new applications of medical science. Applications include new vaccines, pharmaceuticals and medical procedures and are tested in clinical trials.

In a clinical research master's degree program, you'll take courses in research design, data management, epidemiology and biostatistics. You may decide to concentrate on one area of research, such as translational research (turning basic science discovery into practical application), genetics, epidemiology or patient-specific research. No matter your concentration, before you earn your degree, you'll complete a major research project and you might publish your results in a medical journal. The following table provides some additional details about this type of degree:

Clinical Research CoordinatorClinical Research AssociateClinical Research Manager
Degree Required Bachelor's degree at minimum; some have a master's Bachelor's degree at minimum; some have a master's Bachelor's degree at minimum; master's is often required
Key Responsibilities Organizes research information Helps administer clinical trials Manages and administers clinical trials
Licensure/Certification Required Voluntary certification Voluntary certification Voluntary certification
Job Outlook (2014-2024) 3%* (all types of natural science managers) 3%* (all types of natural science managers) 3%* (all types of natural science managers)
Median Salary (2017) $58,592** $56,165** $94,300**

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS); **Salary.com

What Kind of Job Could I Have?

With a master's degree in clinical research, you may work as a clinical research associate, clinical research coordinator or clinical research manager. If you become a clinical research associate, you may oversee the clinical trial as well as documenting, evaluating and publishing the results.

As a clinical research coordinator, your job may include selecting suitable candidates for clinical trials, helping conduct testing and monitoring patients throughout the process. With experience, you may become a clinical research manager and oversee the clinical trial process, ensuring that your staff follows proper research protocols and abide by Food and Drug Administration regulations.

Pharmaceutical companies, the National Institutes of Health, research hospitals and medical laboratories are just a few places that hire clinical researchers. Your job responsibilities may include monitoring patients involved in clinical trials, and thus, you could work days, evenings and weekends.

Is Certification Available?

The Society of Clinical Research Associates (www.socra.org) and the Association of Clinical Research Professionals (www.acrpnet.org) both provide you with the opportunity for certification. Certifications from these organizations require you to meet varying levels of work experience and education. For example, as a master's degree holder, you won't need as much work experience to be eligible for certification as someone who only holds an undergraduate degree. If you are currently working in clinical research and meet these organizations' eligibility requirements, you may take a certification exam. These certifications are optional.

What Kind of Salary Could I Have?

Salaries for clinical researchers vary based on the type of research you are conducting and where you are conducting it. Salary.com says that salaries for clinical research coordinators in the United States were $50,299 for the 25th percentile and $67,555 for the 75th percentile, as they reported in January 2017. Corresponding figures were $49,311 and $61,949 for clinical research associates in January 2017, and $80,629 and $108,530 for clinical research managers during the same period.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

For individuals who have pursued this type of master's degree, they may be interested in a couple of medical related careers. Medical assistants may work in hospitals, clinics, or doctors' offices. Their main responsibilities typically include meeting with patients, discussing and recording their medical history, measuring vital signs, administering medicine, and conferring with the doctor. You could also consider a career as a medical or health services managers. These professionals are in charge of a variety of administrative and executive tasks in a hospital or clinic.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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