Progressing from a CRA to SCRA - What you need to know

Clinical research offers a structured career progression. Throughout, you will need to remain motivated and passionate – a willingness to learn and travel will enable you to advance swiftly. We look at some of the key questions entry level CRAs ask when it comes to moving up the ranks.

What do I need to become a CRA II?

As a CRA I, you can expect to work anywhere between 1-3 years before you gain the typical level of experience and knowledge required to progress. During these years, you will need to have acquired the following knowledge and abilities:

If these sound familiar to you, you will be on your way to becoming a CRA II:

  • Reviewing case report forms (CRFs) without assistance
  • Knowledge of serious adverse events (SAE) reporting and how to proceed and follow up within defined frameworks
  • Understanding the components of informed consent forms (ICFs)
  • Demonstrable site and trial monitoring and management experience
  • Enabling the preparation and collection of clinical trial site documentation
  • Organising and executing site closeout tasks

Can I progress more quickly?

If you are keen to develop quickly, make sure that you take full advantage of all the training and development opportunities available. Many CROs have online portals where you can access a wealth of extra knowledge, training programmes and tests. Training courses are designed to provide the necessary skills to succeed at a more senior level; however, becoming a CRA is not a race. The skills and knowledge you demonstrate on a daily basis are the main competencies you will need to master before considering becoming a CRA II!

CRA II or Senior CRA – Which is it?

There are many variations on the term ‘CRA II’. Some organisations refer to a CRA II as a Senior CRA, Lead CRA or Clinical Monitor, rather than by the numerical seniority of I, II, III and IV. Your suitability is more important than the job title – pay attention to the job specification to learn whether you fulfil the requirements.

What can I expect when I become a CRA II?

Your day-to-day responsibilities will increase to reflect your new role. You will become more accountable for preparing and closing clinical trials. You’ll be ensuring that the performance of assigned sites will remain high and you may also be tasked with managing a small team of CRAs. Peer-to-peer mentorship is important to many CROs so you must be prepared to assist people who were once in your shoes!

How do I know if I’m ready to become a CRA II?

Are you comfortable with every aspect of your role as a CRA I? Be honest with yourself about how well you fit the advertised CRA II job specification. It may be worth asking your manager about your personal progression and how ready he/she thinks you are. Depending on the length of time you’ve worked with your manager, they will have an understanding about your current level of experience and CRA II suitability.

As we said before, becoming a CRA II is not a race. Your progression curve is unique – some trials are often more complex and require CRAs with more extensive (or niche) experience. There is no set guideline to when someone is ‘ready’ to become a CRA II – we recommend you take advantage of any available training opportunities and continue to work hard in your day-to-day role.

Feeling ready? Browse our current CRA II vacancies.