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Are you interested in becoming a clinical research staff member?

A number of experienced coordinators and hiring managers provided input on the tips below for getting a job as a clinical research coordinator (CRC). We hope the following tips are helpful to you and wish you well in your search for a position in this exciting and dynamic role. You can explore job opportunities at Northwestern on the University's careers page.

Ensure that clinical research coordination is right for you. 

As you move through the steps below, you should be thinking about whether or not this job is right for you. Do you have the necessary skill set? Are you detail-oriented? Do you work well with people? Do you enjoy a fast-paced environment? Are you able to manage a lot of projects and responsibilities meeting all deadlines?

Review the Certified Clinical Research Coordinator Detailed Content Outline from the Association of Clinical Research Professionals to ensure you understand what is included in the CRC job description and what you would need to know. 

Consider carefully that most CRCs work on many projects at one time and think about if you can accomplish these tasks with many projects under your purview.

Assess your level of experience.

Individuals with previous experience in the workforce in another field may have different options available than students who are new graduates or in school and looking for part time work to enhance their skillset.

Start small.

Target doctor’s offices, stand-alone clinics, and community hospitals for first time positions in clinical research. In general, large academic medical centers require clinical research coordinators with experience already in the field.

Consider research positions and experience in executing research protocols in the social sciences that would give you valuable experience in developing and executing protocols and recruiting research subjects and provide you with experience to move into clinical research coordination in other areas.

Search for research assistant positions at all potential employers. While these positions do not pay as well as the CRC role, if you have flexibility in your salary requirements they would allow you to get the experience needed to move into the clinical research coordinator role and network at the potential employer.

Northwestern University has a Temporary Staffing Center, and you may submit your resume to them for temporary positions in clinical research. Many people have good luck finding positions this way; most large universities and academic research centers will have a similar temporary staffing program. 

Participate in opportunities to advance your training and education.

Volunteer at a doctor’s office, hospital, or research center to get clinical experience.

Contact graduate programs to determine if they have a student you could work with on their research. Experience in social science research protocols and data collection is valuable to the CRC role.

You may also want to participate in the NUCATS Institute CRC Basic Training Course or consider a Master of Science in Regulatory Compliance.


Join LinkedIn. Add your profile to begin networking with other research professionals via social media.

Join the ACRP Chicagoland Chapter to attend valuable training and networking events in the field. You will begin to learn about employers and CRC positions and get mentorship and support on your career path.  

Attend the NUCATS Institute EQuaTR Conference to network with other professionals in the field and learn more about clinical research. This conference is held annually in May.

Participating Institutions: