Clinical research is a multi-billion dollar market. In 2008, over $35 billion dollars was spent on that branch of research alone. And rightfully so. Clinical research is the branch that determines the safety and effectiveness of all medical products meant for human use. In order for any medication or medical device to be approved for mass market, it must go through heavily detailed clinical trials that report all outcomes, good and bad.
There are several different positions that physicians can work in. Physicians can be on the side of clinical research that conducts the clinical trials, called a Principle Investigator. These jobs are usually considered supplemental income because you still maintain your current practice full time. Physicians can also be on the side that monitors the clinical trials being conducted assuring that the trials are being run appropriately, safely, and correctly. The companies usually involved in this are called Contract Research Organizations, or CROs, and entry positions are typically Clinical Research Associates. The final facet of clinical research that physicians can work in is the development of the clinical research. Meaning before a drug goes to trial, it needs to be planned, approved, and funded. Pharmaceuticals have hired physician executives to lead this development and strategy process.
Salaries in clinical research vary widely. But let’s take a look at the average salaries for the specific jobs mentioned in the Overview.
- Clinical Research Associate – Level 1 – $58,111
- Clinical Research Associate – Level 3 – $89,056
- Clinical Trial Manager – $114,061
- Clinical Research Director – $133,531
- Research Development Director – $183,363
And this wouldn’t be MD Salaries if I didn’t throw in an actual name: Dr. Roger M. Perlmutter makes $5,342,569 dollars as the Executive Vice President of Research and Development at Amgen Pharmaceuticals. As you can see, the salaries are very diverse but the potential is very large.
Clinical research is a field where experience is heavily preferred. Many people in this field have started out at entry-level positions and worked their way up the corporate ladder. As physicians, it can be a blow to us financially and egotistically to have to start out at the bottom again. Luckily for us, if you’ve practiced clinical medicine for a while, you may qualify to join a company at an Assistant Director position. Your chances increase if you’ve participated as a principal or sub-principal investigator for clinical trials.
In addition, there are several higher education routes you can take to showcase your increased knowledge and increase your chances of being hired. Getting an MBA will give you the leadership skills that companies are looking for. There are MBA’s with focuses in medical management or pharmaceutical management that will give you industry knowledge and further enhance your portfolio.
There are also a couple graduate level certificates that will give you formal training in clinical research:
- Certificate of Study in Clinical Research – Drexel University
- Pharmaceutical Technology Management – Stevens University
Clinical research is an important field. It’s the field that makes sure the medicines we take and the devices we use everyday are safe. Physicians can play key roles in the development of the research, the conducting of the research, or the monitoring of the research. It can be a rewarding job with good salary potentials and something you should consider if you enjoy research.
Sizing Up the Clinical Research Market – Applied Clinical Trials
Thinking About Being a Clinical Research Associate? | Medical magazine
Salary.com, Average Clinical Research Associate III Salary
Salary.com, Average Clinical Research Associate I Salary
Salary.com, Clinical Research Director Salary
Glassdoor.com, Clinical Trial Manager Salaries
Forbes.com, Roger M. Perlmutter