A Research Assistant must be curious, have the ability to pay attention to the smallest details, and be organized. Research can be done in the laboratory studying mice and rats or out in the field interviewing subjects.
Description of health care career information and the daily work:
There are numerous areas that you may pursue if you are interested in a research position within a healthcare setting. Research Assistants are needed in hospitals, medical schools, and clinical laboratories where clinical trials, clinical experiments, and investigations occur. This is a rewarding profession in which you may have some role in the diagnosis, treatment, and cure of medical diseases.
The duties and responsibilities of a clinical Research Assistant depend on the institution and type of work that is being done in the laboratory. For example, the tasks of a research assistant working in a clinical trial or on a study may consist of interviewing, enrolling, and communicating with patients in the trial, collecting data and maintaining the patient information database, and coordinating and tracking specimens and other organic material involved in the trial. It may involve performing clinical tests such as EKG and phlebotomy. This type of setting involves working with a team of people including the Principal Investigator, Program Administrator, sponsors of the study, and clinic staff of physicians and nurses. Those working on a clinical trial or study may also be responsible for writing reports, conducting research to apply for grants, and other administrative tasks.
Research Assistants also work with ongoing projects related to specific areas of science such as cellular and molecular biology, neurology, genetics, hematology/oncology, immunology, neuroscience, and stem cell research. They perform basic experimental protocols with rats and mice, prepare specimens, maintain lab equipment, analyze statistics, and collect and track data.
Research Assistants work in clean, well lit places, such as laboratories or in an office setting. A clinical research career requires a strong background in chemistry, biology, and biochemistry.
Education Requirements, Licensure/Certification:
A bachelor’s degree in science (B.S.) and laboratory experience (academic program or internship) are often required to be hired as a research assistant. Typically, employers are looking for someone with an undergraduate degree in chemistry, biochemistry, biology, or physiology. For those interested in research primarily focusing on public health projects, grants management, or qualitative research, a bachelor’s degree in arts (B.A.) is also acceptable.
The average salary for beginning Research Assistants ranges from $30,000-$35,000.
Career Path and/or Opportunities for Growth:
Research Assistants start their career ladder as a Research Assistant I. With experience, you may move to Research Assistant II or a Senior Research Assistant. As you grow into this position, you take on more complicated tasks and may become a supervisor or play a more significant role in a clinical trial or on a project. You may specialize in one area and become a Research Analyst or become a Biostatistician.
A master’s degree or Doctoral degree in a focused area of science is required to become a Principal Investigator and take the lead on a project. A master’s degree would qualify you for a higher level administrative position, such a Project Director.
There are many private and public 4-year colleges and universities that offer an undergraduate degree in science with a concentration in biology, chemistry, biochemistry, or physiology.