One of the most common questions we receive is “how much does a CRA travel?”
In general a CRA spends 3-4 days travelling and 1-2 days in the office every week. However, some may only travel on single occasions, or rarely at all. For your first position, be prepared to travel a lot. As you gain experience you may later move on to a position that is completely office-based.
Do you want to travel more or less?
Choosing a CRA position based on how much travelling is involved maybe isn’t your first concern. If you’re young maybe you are looking forward to spending lots of time “on the road”. However, after a couple of years many CRA’s get fed up with this lifestyle, especially if they wanna get kids and family.
How can I travel less?
Be on the lookout for the following:
- In-house CRA – These are mainly based at a single company or a research center within a local region. They are usually recruited for a specific trial and thus are usually contracted for a certain period. This is an excellent opportunity if you don’t want to travel a lot. Although it’s usually limited in time many companies will prolong the contract or offer you another position later on.
- Clinical trial facilities – some hospitals provide this. These are special wards where clinical trials can be conducted. They have their own investigators, trial nurses and CRA’s. They only deal with admitted patients or subjects that come for follow up visits or regular checks, thus the amount of travelling is very limited. You dont have to get stuck to a CRO or pharmaceutical company.
- Home-based – It may come to you as a surprise that a CRA can eventually “work from home”. It is of course not possible to handle exactly the same tasks. This could be an option if you would like to handle applications for ethical and regulatory agencies, or e.g. conduct feasibility studies or. As more companies discover the benefits of eCRFs (electronic case report forms) parts of the data management and monitoring work can be made from a computer with internet access anywhere.
- CRA II or CRA III – if you go through CRA job ads you may notice that several senior positions are more or less office-based. As described previously, a lead CRA (senior CRA or CRA II) mainly check the work of other CRAs and rarely goes for monitoring visits.
Quite obvious but often overlooked. You may also look for another position within the clinical research field. After 2-3 years of monitoring experience as a CRA, you can apply for office based duities only. You may also move on to other departments within the company, e.g:
- Data Management
- Project Management
You don’t have to be a CRA to work with clinical research either. You can get far as e.g. a clinical trial coordinator as well. The coordinators are usually only involved at one site or hospital etc. There’s hardly any traveling involved. Don’t worry to much about salary and career benefits. If you can’t stand the traveling lifestyle for an extended time you won’t do a good job, and chances of getting promoted will be scarce.