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How to Become a Research Nurse

Duties, Responsibilities, Schooling, Requirements, Certifications, Job Outlook, and Salary

Female professional with lab equipment

Research Nurses are responsible for designing scientific studies and analyzing data. These healthcare agents impact the future of medicine with their clinical research. If you possess strong interpersonal skills, enjoy challenging clinical situations, and excel at research or the sciences, becoming a Research Nurse could be a great career choice for you. Through your research, you can help people around the world receive better care.

One of the many perks of this position is the ability to work remotely. In fact, we featured Research Nurses on our list of the best work from home nursing jobs. We’ve put together this career guide to help you better understand the role of a Research Nurse.

(Click here to see our full list of the best work from home nursing jobs).

Continue reading to learn more about the requirements, responsibilities, training, salary, and job outlook of Research Nurses.

Research Nurse Definition

What Is a Research Nurse?

Research Nurses are vital to the field of medicine because they conduct scientific research into several aspects of health, such as illnesses, treatment plans, pharmaceuticals, and healthcare methods. Their ultimate goal is to improve healthcare services and patient outcomes. Put simply, Research Nurses design scientific studies, analyze data, and report their findings to other medical professionals.

Research Nurse Duties & Responsibilities

What Does a Research Nurse Do?

Research Nurses typically create their own studies, secure funding, and collect and analyze their findings. In addition, they may help with the recruitment of study participants and offer direct patient care while completing their research.

Some of the day-to-day job responsibilities of a Research Nurse include:

  • Designing and implementing research studies
  • Observing patient care of treatment or procedures
  • Collecting and analyzing data, including managing databases
  • Reporting findings of research, which may include presentations
  • Writing grant applications to secure funding for studies
  • Writing articles and researching reports in medical journals
  • Assisting in the recruitment of participants for studies and provide care

Where Do Research Nurses Work?

Since most Research Nurses create their own studies and analyze the results, a good portion of their work is solitary. In some positions, a Research Nurse can work from home in order to benefit from a quieter, more controlled environment. These remote Research Nurses work at home or in person for medical research organizations, research laboratories, hospitals, universities, and pharmaceutical companies.

Research Nurse Hours

Research Nurses typically work during regular business hours. They also tend to fill full-time positions at 40+ hours per week. On occasion, they may need to work outside of regular business hours and complete time-sensitive projects or assignments.

Research Nurse Skills

Becoming a Research Nurse might be a great fit for you if you:

  • Offer strong interpersonal communication skills
  • Handle challenging clinical situations
  • Excel at multitasking, problem solving, and decision making
  • Have a strong research or scientific background
  • Enjoys a challenge and will not be deterred by failure
  • Are resourceful and eager to find solutions to problems
  • Approach tasks with a patient and dedicated mindset
  • Work well with others, various types of personalities, etc.

Medical professional teaching a class

Research Nurse Schooling & Certification

How Long Does It Take to Become a Research Nurse?

What Degree Do You Need to Be a Research Nurse?

In order to be qualified for the role of a Research Nurse, you will likely need to earn an advanced nursing degree. Some employers will require that you obtain a master’s degree or a Ph.D. in Nursing. Others may accept a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree.

In addition to earning a degree and RN license, Research Nurses often need to acquire specialized training in areas like informatics, data collection, scientific research, and research equipment. They may also need to have experience writing grant proposals, research reports, and scholarly articles.

If you’d like to become a Research Nurse, then you’ll need to take the following steps:

1. Earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degree (BSN)

The first step to becoming a Research Nurse is to earn your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. Candidates of BSN programs must usually submit various application materials, such as academic transcripts, GRE scores, personal essays, and letters of recommendation.

The core nursing classes during a BSN program often include the following topics:

  • Professional nursing
  • Health assessment
  • Family nursing
  • Medical and surgical care
  • Nursing management
  • Psychosocial nursing

2. Pass the NCLEX-RN Licensure Exam

The next step is to pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) developed two exams to test the competence of aspiring RNs and LPNs/LVNs.

Learn more about the NCLEX and what to expect with this detailed FAQ section.

(You can also click here to learn more on how to become a nurse).

3. Pursue a Master of Science in Nursing Degree (MSN)

Once you have earned your BSN degree and acquired an RN license, it’s recommended that you complete a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree program with a focus on research and writing. This is partially because MSN-level courses better prepare nurses for a career in research, as they typically include courses in statistics, research for evidence-based practice, design and coordination of clinical trials, and advanced research methodology.

4. Gain Experience in Clinical Research

Next, you may need to acquire specialized job training in the field. For instance, some future job opportunities may require training in informatics, research methodology, and tools. More often than not, Research Nurses start as Research Assistants or Clinical Research Coordinators.

5. Consider Certification

While certification is optional for Research Nurses, it would likely be beneficial to pursue it. The primary certification for these professionals is the Certified Clinical Research Professional (CCRP) certification offered by the Society for Clinical Research Associates. Eligibility requirements include but may not be limited to acquiring a minimum of two years’ experience working in clinical research.

In addition, the Association of Clinical Research Professionals offers various certifications in clinical research, such as: the Clinical Research Associate Certification, the Clinical Research Coordinator Certification, and the Association of Clinical Research Professionals – Certified Professional Credential. Although these certifications have differing eligibility requirements, they normally include professional experience in clinical research as well as an active RN license.

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Research Nurse School Cost

So, how much does it cost to become a Research Nurse? As previously stated, most Research Nurses have at least earned a bachelor’s degree. If they choose to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree, the cost will  depend on the institution.

However, you can probably expect to pay anywhere from $40,000 to $100,000 when this process is all said and done.

Work from Home Opportunities

You can start your journey to becoming a Remote Research Nurse by applying for entry-level positions. Employers often list job openings through their websites or on Internet job boards. Apply for as many job openings as possible to boost your odds of landing an interview. Don’t forget to look for open positions on LinkedIn, too!

To search for current jobs as a Remote Research Nurse, check job boards at websites like registerednursing.org.

Other helpful organizations include the following:

Research Nurse’s Salary

How Much Does a Research Nurse Make?

According to Salary.com, the average Research Nurse’s salary is about $72,000 per year or around $35 per hour. Their salary can range between $63,000 and $84,000. Research Nurses in the 90th percentile can earn more than $85,000 per year.

(Click here to learn about the highest paid nursing jobs).

Research Nurse Job Outlook

Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) may not offer specific job outlook data for Research Nurses at this time, they do predict great overall growth for medical professionals and Registered Nurses through the next decade. According to the BLS, the overall employment of RNs is expected to grow 9 percent by 2030.

Nurse using lab equipment

Why Pursue a Career as a Research Nurse?

If you’re looking for a new career in the medical field, you might want to consider becoming a Research Nurse. In this role, you can design, manage, and oversee numerous aspects of scientific studies. Your skills fill a crucial role in the public health infrastructure across the globe. In addition, they will become increasingly necessary as the healthcare landscape continues to evolve.

If you’re an aspiring nurse but don’t know where to begin, you can earn your Vocational Nursing diploma, BSN degree, or enroll in any of our other nursing programs at Unitek College.