Our house’s main electrical panel box had suffered significant damage during the hurricane; I realized it was extremely dangerous. Not only did it need to be completely replaced but I knew we were on borrowed time…I felt my house was going to burst into flames at any moment.

We immediately contacted a certified electrician to arrange replacement of the service panel.

It never occurred to me to hire anyone but a certified electrician to do this work. After all, since the safety of my family is a priority, I felt that hiring someone who has demonstrated experience in the industry, knows state codes and regulations and takes safety seriously was a “no brainer”.

So it made me think…why do we rarely require our CRAs to be certified? Our firm supports several dozen sponsors and very rarely do these Hiring Managers require industry certifications such as the Association of Clinical Research Professionals’ Certified Clinical Research Associate (CCRA) or the Society of Clinical Research Associates’ Certified Clinical Research Professionals (CCRP).

Here are 5 reasons I believe you should consider hiring CRAs who hold industry certification:

You can easily validate someone’s certification: We have identified a frightening trend of individuals falsifying their education (our article on Identifying Fake CRAs by their Education will provide details on how to protect yourself). Certifications from reputable organizations such as ACRP and SOCRA are easily validated…meaning these certifications cannot be easily faked!

Proven Clinical Research knowledge and experience: To sit for a SOCRA or ACRP Certification exam, individuals have to be able to prove they have fully dedicated, recent experience as a Clinical Research Professional. This means that any professional you hire with an ACRP or SOCRA certification has hands-on working experience, thereby giving you confidence in that certified professional’s base knowledge.

Applied knowledge of Regulatory and GCP/ICH Guidelines: When you hire someone who is certified, you can feel confident that the individual has an internationally-accepted knowledge of the industry.

Better chance of “doing it right the first time”: ACRP has conducted an analysis which proves certification is linked to fewer protocol deviations as well as more favorable outcomes from regulatory audits.

Certified professionals are typically more committed to quality results: By hiring a certified professional, you are hiring someone who has invested in their career and therefore proven they have the knowledge, skills, and abilities to safely and ethically perform clinical research.

Just as it seemed to be a “no brainer” when it came to hiring a certified electrician to protect my family’s safety, in an industry where patient safety is paramount, I strongly encourage Hiring Managers to consider hiring more certified professionals as ensuring patient safety, quality of data and regulatory compliance are the core principles of ethical, responsible clinical research.

But which to choose: ACRP vs SOCRA? Is one industry certification better than the other? 

Both the ACRP and SOCRA certifications have a few similarities. Applicants must meet specific eligibility requirements in terms of hours of professional experience. This ensures they have the technical skills to perform well on the test. SOCRA, as an example, requires at least two years of experience as a full-time clinical research professional, having gained this experience within the last five years.

The exams for ACRP or SOCRA certifications are available worldwide, meaning that candidates can receive their license from any corner of the world. However, both ACRP and SOCRA certifications require CRAs to engage in continuing education to maintain those credentials. This ensures the continuing competence of each certificate grantee, prompting them to uphold the professional standard expected in clinical research. 

Additionally, ACRP and SOCRA are constantly reviewing and updating their certification programs, meaning there is always new information to learn. And when CRAs stay abreast of new regulations, standards, and trends as a condition of their certification, the whole clinical research industry benefits. Informed and accredited CRAs are good CRAs, and ACRP and SOCRA help maintain high standards within the industry. 

However, in further digging into the ACRP vs SOCRA discussion, ACRP has a leg up on SOCRA in a few areas. While ACRP is open to members and non-members, SOCRA is more restrictive. Even though SOCRA limits who can enter their certification program, the results are not always stellar. ACRP is renowned for its targeted approach to instruction, ensuring that information is specific to job roles. This means that ACRP’s accredited CRAs are better able to perform their unique roles, and this expertise has been linked to more favorable outcomes from regulatory audits. ACRP certifications have also been linked to fewer protocol deviations, suggesting that ACRP’s accredited CRAs better know the process. This knowledge and accuracy are essential because if a CRA deviates from the protocol, it can compromise the whole clinical trial, risk patient safety, and cost the sponsor a lot of resources in terms of time and money.

So, just as it seemed to be a “no brainer” when it came to hiring a certified electrician to protect my family’s safety, in an industry where patient safety is paramount, I strongly encourage Hiring Managers to consider hiring more certified professionals as ensuring patient safety, quality of data and regulatory compliance are the core principles of ethical, responsible clinical research. Whether you choose a CRA with an ACRP or SOCRA certification, an accredited clinical research associate will be better equipped to handle the job. With a more extensive knowledge of industry standards and regulations, accredited CRAs are more likely to help your study rather than harm it.  

One last thought…outside of the ACRP vs SOCRA discussion, are there other educational or certification programs worth exploring?  There are many institutions offering clinical research graduate certificate programs; are they worth a consideration?

I won’t go on record to state that clinical research graduate certificates aren’t as valid as the ACRP and SOCRA credentials.  What I will state is that a graduate certification in clinical research is simply evidence of education; therefore, in no way does a clinical research graduate certificate confirm work experience.   

Our firm focuses on the CRA’s competency and we have found that CRAs with either ACRP or SOCRA certification have stronger capabilities in terms of execution.  To learn more about our commitment to CRAs, check out our website. 

If you are looking for your next position, be sure to browse our job listings, which our team diligently updates.