How to get into life sciences

Life Sciences a challenging area to break into, but we have a few ideas to help those of you who are determined to succeed in this area.

Join the Institute of Clinical Research (ICR)

For nearly 40 years, the ICR has provided high-quality training, networking and support to the clinical research community. It’s a not-for-profit organisation, guided by a Board of Directors who are elected by the membership, and has become the largest professional research body in Europe and India. Benefits include being kept up to date with the latest news, networking opportunities, publications and eBooks plus discounted rates for training courses, conferences and professional indemnity insurance.

Shadow a Clinical Research Associate (CRA)

Offer to shadow a CRA on a voluntary basis for a few months. If you don’t have contacts in the industry finding someone who’s willing to be shadowed will certainly be more challenging, but not impossible. Use your network – get out there and speak to people; if you don’t have a network, then build one (professional networking sites such as LinkedIn are useful for this) – demonstrate how resourceful you can be.

Be flexible

To break into the industry, you may have to consider a modest salary or change of location. The market is very competitive, so moving to a new place, even if it’s only for a year or so, may be the only way to secure the job you want.

Follow your application up

A positive follow-up phone call can recover a poor application of mediocre CV; show the recruiter your personality and excellent communication and influencing skills.

A Day in the Life of a Principle Clinical Research Associate

We asked one of our associates – a Principle CRA – to talk us through their day, to help you decide whether the Clinical Research Associate role is right for you.


On my way to London to train and monitor a new Study Site Coordinator (SSC) and Sub Investigator (SI). It’s up to me to make sure that study continues as usual.


Pick up food and drink supplies in preparation for the day ahead. I meet with the new SSC and wait while a patient for another study is seen. I file away notes, check my emails and check the last report for ongoing issues.


The new SI joins us, and I watch while they enter two patients’ visits to make sure everything’s ok. I teach them to answer queries and change data. I monitor at the same time and review the schedule of events for the next exit visit.


Monitored the hospital pharmacy.


Back down to the monitoring room to help the new guys.


A bit of spare time so I review data entry status and queries at other sites in the same study and respond to emails.


Together with the new guys we review the site file, protocol, adverse events, patient compliance and drug returns.


Travelling back home, checking emails and making phone calls.


Arrive home and write my report for the day.