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How ICON is investing in the future of Clinical Research Associates

At ICON, we’re committed to the development of all our team members – particularly the next generation of clinical research professionals. The market has seen a shortage of CRAs in recent years, with demand expected to grow 1.52% annually by next year, which means many sponsors and CROs are finding themselves competing for scarcely available talent to support their clinical research. Much of this shortage can be attributed to the perceived need to have the “magic” two years of experience in order to be considered competent to monitor – however, there is no shortage of talent on the market waiting to be trained in the profession.


CRAs are a crucial component of the clinical project lifestyle, where new regulations, systems and procedures are becoming more common and are therefore leading to more training and regulatory requirements. One of the biggest factors contributing to the global shortage of CRAs is the lack of training opportunities for clinical professionals to begin their careers, according to Drug Discovery and Development magazine. At ICON, we’re navigating this shortage by creating dedicated training programmes to develop the industry’s best CRAs. 

We’ve taken a proactive approach to ensuring our CRAs are not only market-leading in terms of knowledge and training, but also so that we have a pipeline of talent to secure a steady stream of CRA professionals into the future. We do this by investing in the development and ongoing education of both internal staff and new graduates looking to enter the CRO industry. 

Depending on the individuals’ circumstances, background, experience and local market, ICON offers the following development programs as a route into the CRA world: 

Online University College Dublin (UCD) Graduate Certificate in Clinical Research 

The Graduate Certificate has been developed with the UCD Medical School and is delivered in an online learning environment, which provides freedom and flexibility in terms of where and when you learn. Students have constant access to tutors at the UCD Clinical Research Centre during the six-month program, which features assignments and online exams. This program is aimed at employees currently working in CTA roles, and those in related areas, who aspire to develop a career as a CRA. 

CRA Graduate Program 

This six-month programme is ideal for new graduates, providing a dedicated learning environment which includes classroom delivery, online learning and one-to-one coaching. Students will experience on-site visits and group presentations, with hands-on experience critical in developing the right skills and behaviours CRAs need to conduct independent monitoring. As they learn about the industry and build clinical development and technical knowledge, students will be well-equipped to join the clinical research field. 

CRA Academy Program

An accelerated 3-month course, the CRA Academy Program is ideal for those who have some level of industry experience, such as study coordinator, data manager, CTA, or other roles where site contact has been experienced. Like our Graduate Program, it offers a blended learning approach while taking into account individuals’ previous experience. The program aligns learning and development activities to effectively build the skills and capabilities of newly hired Junior CRAs, contributing to accelerated drug and device development and outcome research. 

Find out more 
We're invested in training and developing clinical research professionals who can make a real difference in the lives of others. If you’re interested in our current vacancies, click here to see our latest clinical research jobs
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