Clinical research involves the testing of new medicines and treatments in people, and the profession is on a staggering growth trajectory. The number of registered clinical research studies in the U.S. has increased more than 4,000 percent since 2000, according to data from the National Institutes of Health, and women are at the forefront.

Because clinical research is rooted in healthcare and serves as an extension of many allied health professions like nursing, women have historically played a central role in clinical research conduct.

But beyond its relationship with health care, clinical research is an attractive field because it offers flexible and diverse positions and career paths for all types of professionals.

High ratings

One of the jobs in this field, clinical research associate (CRA), comes in at number 84 on CNN Money’s latest list of the “Best 100 Jobs in America.”

A CRA, also known as a clinical trial monitor, generally supervises, monitors and supports the administration and progress of a clinical study. They do this on behalf of clinical trial sponsors, which include some of the biggest pharmaceutical companies in the world, such as Novartis, GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer and others.

The median pay for a CRA nationally is $76,000, according to CNN, which is nearly $25,000 more than the median salary for U.S. employees, as reported by The Motley Fool.

Happy and healthy

When it comes to “quality of life” ratings, the CRA job performs well in CNN’s scorings of personal satisfaction, benefit to society, telecommuting opportunities and stress levels.

The CRA’s job often includes a lot of travel, independence, and personal interaction with other professionals conducting clinical studies.

Always other options

If CRA doesn’t sound like a good fit, there are countless opportunities in the clinical research field that involve a wide variety of skillsets and expertise, including study coordination, data management, clinical trial operations management and much more.

It goes without saying that the real key to a career in clinical research is the desire to improve public health by contributing to medical innovation.