Society would not know specifically how exercise or cigarettes affect health or whether medications are effective against certain diseases without the work of research -- or clinical research -- coordinators. Research coordinators recruit and screen subjects for research studies and, with the assistance of research managers, determine sample sizes for tests, dividing participants into control and test or experimental groups, the latter of which receive the medications being tested. While earnings vary by employer and geographical area, the average salary of a research coordinator was $37,000 as of 2014, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Once research coordinators recruit clinical test participants, they obtain written consent forms from test subjects. They also meet with participants and apprise them of the test specifications. The objective of research coordinators is to ensure similarities between control and test participants to alleviate bias from test data and achieve valid results. These similarities may include ages, diets and lifestyles, for example. Other key responsibilities of research coordinators include dispensing test medications, collecting and analyzing data, writing and distributing interim reports and maintaining computer databases of individual studies -- some of which can last for many years.
Most research coordinators, as natural science managers, work full-time in laboratories, clinics or hospitals. Local, state and federal government agencies, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, also employ research coordinators. Hours for these research specialists can vary during days, evenings or weekends, depending on the employers for whom they work. Some may work overtime to ensure they meet deadlines for tests.
Education and Qualifications
Educational requirements for research coordinators vary by employer. Most prefer hiring those with at least bachelor's or master's degrees in clinical research. Others may only hire research coordinators who have one or more years of clinical research experience and bachelor's or associate degrees in nursing. If research coordinators need nursing degrees, they must also take and pass the National Council Licensure Exam for either registered nurses or licensed practical nurses. Other essential qualifications are attention to detail and interpersonal, time-management, writing, computer and research skills.
A research coordinator can become a senior research coordinator or manager once he gains one or more years of experience as a research coordinator. Senior research coordinators hire, train and supervise research coordinators. In 2014, the Mayo Clinic reported earnings as high as $68,000 for senior research coordinators. A couple levels up from senior research coordinator is the position of medical or natural scientist. These top-level scientists help pharmaceutical or other medical executives develop goals and strategies for research studies. Natural scientists made an average of $132,850 as of May 2013, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
The BLS doesn't forecast jobs specifically for research coordinators. It estimates a 6 percent increase in employment for natural sciences managers from 2012 to 2022, which is slower than the 11 percent national average of expected growth for all occupations. More outsourcing of jobs and a consolidation of responsibilities will temper job growth for natural sciences managers. Research coordinators can expect some job opportunities to open because of those who change jobs or retire from the profession.