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Clinical research associate: Salary and conditions

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  • Starting salaries for clinical research associates (CRAs) are in the region of £22,000 to £28,000. Some graduate positions may offer salaries of around £30,000. It is likely these posts will require some experience in a related area.
  • With experience and working as a senior CRA/CRA II you can earn a salary of £33,000 to £40,000. In some roles, salaries of up to £60,000 can be reached.
  • Salaries vary from company to company. Additional benefits, such as a car allowance and bonus are typically offered.
  • Working conditions vary between companies, although the hours are usually Monday to Friday. Extra hours are worked regularly in the evenings, although weekend or shift work is uncommon.
  • If you are field-based you will mainly be on the road, dealing with doctors and research nurses in trial centres, GP practices or hospitals. Some companies have in-house, office-based CRA roles with virtually no site visit responsibilities; the focus in this role is on document review and management.
  • Part-time work is possible as are career breaks. Short term contracts of 6 to 12 months with a company are common, meaning you may work more like a contractor than permanent employee.
  • Self-employment or freelance work is possible with experience (usually four years or more).
  • Most UK pharmaceutical companies are located in the south of England. Field-based positions are generally found in key locations throughout the UK. Some jobs, for example in a company laboratory, can be found locally while others are regionally based.
  • Time deadlines can make the work stressful and work may be done in teams or individually.
  • The job can involve a lot of travelling, especially if working in a field-based role. You may be out of the office three or four days a week, possibly including overnight stays. Some companies operate a system whereby the CRA specialises in a specific disease area and covers the whole of the UK. Others operate their CRAs on a regional basis.
  • Working for an international company may involve coordinating trials abroad, in which case a considerable amount of overseas travel would be necessary.

Salary figures are intended as a guide only.

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Written by AGCAS editors
September 2014

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