What is a Clinical Research Career Path

The clinical research industry is booming, bringing in a new wave of opportunities across the world. There is no time like the present to choose this specialization. Research institutions welcome individuals with a strong medical background. There are many positions one could occupy in the profession of clinical research. If you have the age-old question ‘what is after MBBS’ then this article discusses the various career paths one could choose in the field of clinical research, with a medical background. It also discusses the course in clinical research you can take and more importantly, what is a clinical research career.

What is a Clinical Research Career?

The National Health Service (NHS) describes it as a way to develop new treatments and knowledge for better health and care, and build evidence for new approaches that are safe and effective. These professionals conduct clinical trials and studies, with or without involving human participants. For example, Random Control Trials and Blind trials are some of the methodologies used by research scientists. The efficacy of a new drug is determined by analyzing and comparing the results of each group. The growth of one’s career in clinical research is largely based on qualifications and previous experience. If anyone is looking for a career filled with challenges and exciting discoveries, with a philosophy of helping society at large then this is the place for you! Above all, this field rewards hard work.

Why Choose a Course in Clinical Research?​

Clinical research is all about making a difference in people’s lives. This career is ideal for doctors who are motivated to give back to the community. This profession requires a thirst for knowledge and a curious mind. Moreover, it allows you to take part in clinical trials. It also provides opportunities to come up with treatments for diseases previously thought incurable. Doctors in this field are connected with other like-minded researchers across the world, aiming to produce a single result in many ways. Clinical researchers often develop a link between business and science when hired by the right organizations.

Research professionals are an integral part of a much bigger cause. The innovation of new vaccines in record time during the current COVID-19 crisis is a testimony to the efficiency of clinical research scientists across the globe. Various pharmaceutical companies have developed different vaccines and treatment methodologies to combat the effects of the disease. They provide new solutions by continually studying the effects of these vaccines and drugs. Research is conducted in a phased manner, over a period of time. Without clinical research professionals, the battle against COVID-19 would have been easily lost.

According to a Marketing Salary & Employee Satisfaction Survey done in January 2020, clinical research boasts an employee satisfaction score of 4.01 for work schedule flexibility. Firstly, this career offers tremendously diverse and intellectually stimulating work. Secondly, it also offers the endless potential to contribute to science. However, one must be driven by the quest for knowledge. Society highly respects clinical researchers, because it constantly contributes to the medical knowledge base. The starting package in this career is decent, but as one grows in experience one could very well expect a competitive salary.

Is there a specific course in Clinical Research to pursue?

Doctors who choose to enter this field generally come with specialization in immunology, physiology, pharmacology, medicine or, anatomy. However, a PhD invariably improves the chances of successful employment in this profession. Several universities offer specialized courses focused on clinical research if you wish to pursue a career straight after your graduation. The last few years have witnessed more and more doctors from the best Indian medical colleges joining this profession, because of a growing interest in this field. There are many unexplored resources available for physicians who would like to conduct research. A research career in this field without a medical background is not impossible but challenging. It may just result in more administrative work.

What is a Clinical Research Professional’s Roles and Responsibilities?

The different types of jobs available are:
Clinical Research Associate (CRA): The main responsibility of a CRA is to monitor a clinical trial from beginning to end. It involves writing trial protocols, setting up trial sites, and monitoring the trial participants. A CRA is also in charge of collecting, distributing, and storing data. Companies adhere to strict rules and regulations, including the Good Clinical Practice standards. CRAs play a crucial role in this aspect.

Clinical Research Coordinator: A Clinical Research Coordinator has responsibilities similar to a CRA, along with managing the research budgets, liaising with laboratories about research findings, recruiting subjects, and ensuring that materials required for research are in stock.

Clinical Research Scientist: Clinical Research Scientists are the ones who design and conduct the trials. This is a senior post that comes with years of practice and expertise.

Clinical Data Manager (CDM): Clinical Data Managers collect medical research data from clinical and pharmaceutical trials. This is a very important role in clinical trials. It requires special skillsets related to guidelines and acceptable formats of data collection and dissemination.

Biostatistician: The role of a Biostatistician is to develop study models, analyze the data using quantitative methods and arrive at conclusions. This again is a specialized field requiring special courses and certifications.

Career Growth And Job Prospects

It being a competitive field, the salary packages are lucrative but competitive. Remunerations depend upon many factors including job title, experience, industry, and location. The pharmaceutical industry employs most CRAs. The second big employers are hospital academic departments and clinical contract agencies. The salary structures vary on the basis of the type of employer to the scope of work involved.
Clinical research professionals can expect a salary growth of 5% to 20% with experience. A study conducted in the Applied Clinical Trials journal reported that salary is not the most important incentive for research professionals. It showed that advancement in career and opportunities to work with mentors are some of the most important factors.


The field of medicine is always on the cusp of innovation, but clinical research is what helps it attain its true potential. It aims to provide the best methods of treatment to promote a healthier society. Physicians are promoted to pursue this career path now more than ever to overcome the current health crises. Since we have provided a brief idea about what is a clinical research career, pursuing a course in this field is the next step. When perusing what is after MBBS, make sure to keep this profession among the top choices. Becoming a professional in this field will allow you to perform cutting-edge research in the latest innovations. It will make you stand out in the crowd.

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