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How to Become a Clinical Data Manager

If you are seeking career opportunities in the data side of the pharmaceutical or medical industries, becoming a clinical data manager is a great way to use your skills. You will need excellent analytical, problem-solving, and research skills. Clinical data managers ensure that patients’ needs are being met when seeking treatment of illnesses. They might develop treatment plans, conduct research trials, or make recommendations to other medical professionals. 

As a clinical data manager, you will research and analyze medical data from clinical trials and other means and present reports based on your findings. To excel as a clinical data manager, you should have good computer skills, writing skills, a deep understanding of clinical data analysis concepts, and a keen knowledge of statistical techniques. A clinical data manager plays an important role in the treatment of patients, whether working with a team or independently.

Sample job description

We are seeking a clinical data manager for our team to ensure that we continue to provide all patients with high-quality, efficient care. The clinical data manager will support the data management group from study start-up through database lock and clinical study reports. They perform complex clerical and office tasks involving the maintenance and/or analysis of clinical data and reports. The incumbent will also abstract relevant information from medical records or perform other related duties as assigned.

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Review protocols and coordinate study set-up activities for trials
  • Assisting in compiling data (collected by others) for reports or trial protocols
  • Organizing databases/tables for data analysis
  • Discussing results of analyses with others, including physicians
  • Developing plans to help improve standard operating procedures or efficiencies
  • Create calendar specifications for data collection
  • Training new employees on how to perform their job duties
  • Performing clinical reviews of medical records, especially when searching for patient inclusion/exclusion criteria in research studies

Education and experience

  • Bachelor’s degree in healthcare or a related field
  • Some experience with clinical trial research and/or data collection
  • Ability to apply statistical knowledge and skills to the analysis of complex data sets
  • Knowledge of clinical research procedures and regulations
  • Ability to type a minimum of 40 wpm
  • Experience with Microsoft Office Suite, especially Word and Excel

Required skills and qualifications

  • Meticulous attention to detail
  • Strong organizational skills
  • Ability to work independently without supervision
  • Ability to prioritize tasks and handle multiple projects at once
  • Knowledge of clinical research procedures and regulations
  • Computer skills, especially with Microsoft® Office programs
  • Ability to communicate effectively (both verbally and in writing)
  • A clear understanding of the benefits of clinical trial research

Preferred qualifications

  • Experience with data collection and processing
  • Familiarity with research study designs, especially randomized controlled trials
  • Understanding of clinical trial phase types
  • Ability to work 40 hours per week
  • Knowledge of medical terminology
  • Experience with creating electronic documents for research reports or trial protocols.

Typical work environment

CDMs work in either laboratory or clinical settings. These professionals may be on-site at a research facility, such as a hospital or clinic, or they can work remotely on a laptop (with some auxiliary equipment). They also often interact with clients and colleagues via phone calls and emails to discuss the status of ongoing reports and studies. CDMs must have good computer skills since most of their daily tasks revolve around data entry and analysis.

Typical hours

CDMs typically work full-time (40 hours per week). That said, they may occasionally put in additional time to meet deadlines or to help colleagues with their projects. The job is largely independent, so CDMs tend to set their own schedule and pace of work. Depending on the employer, some people spend more time working at night and on the weekends.

Available certifications

There are no specific certifications for clinical data management. However, professionals looking to advance in this career can take classes or workshops on statistics and data analysis. They can also sign up for courses that will help them improve their computer skills (such as Microsoft Office training tutorials).

  • Medical Statistics Professional Certificate (Stanford). This certificate allows you to explore statistical concepts and techniques commonly utilized in medical research, including fundamentals of probability and statistical inference, and basic programming in R or SAS.
  • Microsoft Office Specialist. Pass an exam in a specific Office program to earn a Microsoft Office Specialist certification. Being certified as a Microsoft Office Specialist demonstrates you have the skills needed to get the most out of Office. This is important as many CDMs will work on Microsoft programs.
  • Google Data Analytics Certificate. A professional certificate from Google will show you have the understanding of analytics that are needed for this position. Learn job-ready skills that are in demand, like how to analyze and process data to gain key business insights.

Career path

As a clinical data manager, you can move into a variety of positions within the industry. You could advance to clinical study coordinator or data management director, for example. Those who have experience with quality assurance may pursue control chart analyst positions, and those who have strong interpersonal skills may gain employment as medical writer positions.

CDMs may work for major pharmaceutical companies or other organizations that conduct clinical trials. They can also be employed by medical centers, hospitals, clinics, universities, and government agencies.

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 11-9111

2020 Employment429,800
Projected Employment in 2030569,400
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift 32% increase
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift139,600 increase

The insurance industry is growing, which means more organizations will be hiring clinical data managers. The aging population means that healthcare services and products will continue to need development and testing. All of these factors contribute to the demand for CDMs. The rapid development and testing of medical products have increased demand for CDMs who can collect, analyze, and maintain complex data.