I want to work in Clinical Research

Find out how you can start a career in clinical research. Here we list potential job roles and some of the leading companies in that sector.

Job roles


Life sciences or medical sciences degrees can be put to good use in the competitive but growing field of clinical drug research.

A clinical research associate (CRA) runs clinical trials to test drugs for their effectiveness, risks and benefits to ensure that they are safe to allow on to the market. You'll work on new and existing drugs and will usually be employed by either a pharmaceutical company or a contract research organisation (CRO), which works on behalf of pharmaceutical companies.

The Clinical Research Associate coordinates clinical trials of new drugs. Once these trials are successful, the Regulatory Affairs Officer takes the trial data and uses this to gain government approval for the new medicine. Both jobs are well paid and interesting.

Clinical Research Associate

CRAs work for pharmaceutical companies and Contract Research Organisations which plan, organise and conduct Clinical Trials on behalf of pharmaceutical companies.

CRA's are also called Clinical Trials Administrators (CTAs), Clinical Research Scientists, Clinical Secretaries, Clinical Trials Assistants, Clinical Trials Associates, Data Monitors and Clinical Research Monitors!

In the past few years the percentage of clinical trials carried out in the UK has dropped as companies have increasingly carried out trials in Asia and Eastern Europe where it is cheaper. The cost of doing trials in the UK is one of the highest in Europe, but firms have in the past preferred to carry out trials in the UK because of our strong research base. The huge patient base of the NHS (over 50 million patient records) is also a powerful resource.

Bureaucracy in trial approvals has created longer start up times than in other European countries. This is important as the patent on a drug only runs for a limited number of years and once it expires, anyone can copy the drug. It is especially important for smaller companies to get trails up and running quickly to maintain cash flow from investors. A large trial may involve obtaining contracts with many different primary care trusts each one requiring its own set of paperwork. A UK Clinical Research Network has now been set up to speed up approval of trials and this seems to be working.



ICON plc offer a full range of consulting, clinical development and commercialisation services from a global network of offices in 46 countries. They are a global provider of consulting, and outsourced development and commercialisation services to pharmaceutical, biotechnology, medical device and government and public health organisations. ICON has been recognised as one of the world’s leading Contract Research Organisations through a number of high-profile industry awards.                          


SEC are specialist recruiters in the life sciences and pharmaceutical sector, delivering recruitment excellence to these industries since 1987 across the UK, Europe and the USA. With a diverse workforce encompassing 27 different languages, SEC is proud to live our values of trust, honesty, integrity and commitment by providing our candidates and clients with a first class service, demonstrated by our long-standing relationships. 

Key Supporters


BSI is the business standards company that helps organisations all over the world make excellence a habit. For more than a century we have been challenging mediocrity and complacency to help embed excellence into the way people and products work. That means showing businesses how to improve performance, reduce risk and achieve sustainable growth. As a global leader in helping organisations improve, our clients range from high profile brands to small, local companies in 182 countries worldwide.

CK Group

CK Group is the UK’s specialist in scientific, clinical and technical recruitment. For more than 25 years CK Group has been forging strong partnerships with the world’s most innovative and successful organisations, from small independent start-ups to globally renowned blue-chip pharmaceutical organisations.

DLRC Regulatory Consultancy

Pathway to market can often be complex but DLRC can simplify your journey. With over 450 years combined experience we provide a full range of services from strategic advice in early development to compilation and management of regulatory submissions throughout lifecycle. Since 2005 our innovative approach and collaborative interactions with agencies have helped secure approvals. 

European Pharmaceutical Students' Association

EPSA is an umbrella organisation of all European Pharmaceutical Students' Associations, representing more than 100,000 students in 37 European countries.

Linkfield Life Sciences

Linkfield Life Sciences are a Regulatory Affairs specific recruitment company. We provide permanent, contract and retained services across the industry. Supporting our clients and candidates with knowledge gained over the last 8 years, we aim to build long lasting and productive relationships with all our Life Sciences partners. Contact us on 02071835059.

Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency 

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency regulates medicines, medical devices and blood components for transfusion in the UK. Recognised globally as an authority in its field, the agency plays a leading role in protecting and improving public health and supports innovation through scientific research and development.


PPD is a leading global contract research organisation providing comprehensive, integrated drug development, laboratory and lifecycle management services. Our clients and partners include pharmaceutical, biotechnology, medical device, academic and government organisations. With offices in 48 countries and more than 21,000 professionals worldwide, PPD applies innovative technologies, therapeutic expertise and a firm commitment to quality to help clients and partners bend the cost and time curve of drug development and optimise value in delivering life-changing therapies to improve health.


PharmaLex is a leading provider of specialized services for the pharmaceutical, biotech and medical device industries.


Roche is the world’s largest biotech company, with truly differentiated medicines in oncology, immunology, infectious diseases and neurology. Our UK headquarters in Welwyn houses both the UK business organisation and a growing global drug development group with over 800 world class professionals translating great science into great medicine for patients.

The Royal Society of Chemistry 

The Royal Society of Chemistry is a professional body in the United Kingdom with the goal of "advancing the chemical sciences" and “supporting the chemistry community".


We’re Teva, a global pharmaceutical company specialising in medicines within central nervous system, respiratory, pain and oncology therapy areas. We've been around for about 80 years, which is longer than the NHS! We contribute to improving the lives and health of patients all around the UK. We’re the biggest supplier of medicines to the NHS* and a key partner to NHS organisations where we work together to improve healthcare outcomes for patients through joint working projects.

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