Pros and Cons of Working for a CRO

For people working in the Life Sciences industry, there are many employment options. The differences between start-ups, mid-size pharma, big pharma, and even CRO’s can be vague, all offering pros and cons when it comes to working at them.  Often, a CRO (Clinical Research Organization) is a great choice. In recent years, CROs have become more proactively involved in research efforts as pharmaceutical companies have outsourced various tasks and positions. There are now CROs involved in all stages from drug discovery to clinical trials, regulatory filings, and commercialization.

Below are several pros and cons of working for a CRO.  Depending on your point of view, the pros and cons will be interchangeable depending on your career goals.


  • Career Growth – There is frequently more of a variety of projects you will work on.   This often leads to career growth opportunities and provides opportunities to move into a managerial role.   Ultimately, the experience proves valuable in moving towards a sponsor organization career path as well.
  • Higher Salary – CROs often offer a higher salary than pharma companies to compensate for the sometimes long hours and extended responsibilities.
  • Telecommute/Remote work – CROs tend to focus on regulatory issues and clinical trial management, which provides more work from home opportunities.
  • Expanded Skills – Because of the fast-paced environment, you can expand your skillset to a variety of therapeutic areas.


  • Lack of control – Because big pharma companies control their proprietary technologies and products, the CRO work can be more routine.
  • Long Days – Days at a CRO can be very busy and on average employees work longer hours than in pharmaceutical organizations. This can result in a stressful environment.  With the focus on client satisfaction and accountability, speed and efficiency are a priority due to tight deadlines.
  • Job Insecurity – CROs are at the mercy of clients and new projects. Although outsourcing has increased, once a project ends the CRO must rely on a new project or ongoing pharma relationship to keep the work consistent.
  • Snapshot – Working in a CRO environment will limit your visibility to the full project.  Your work is a snapshot of the project that ultimately lies with the pharma company. 

CROs have become essential partners to pharma companies.  Pharma companies have been transitioning away from ‘transactional outsourcing’ to supplement their workforce and toward ‘functional outsourcing’, serving as a specific department.

Regardless of your point of view, CROs can offer opportunities to boost your career track.  Recently it has become more common to toggle between CROs, small, medium, and large pharma companies without repercussions.  Precision Life Sciences has relationships and experience within all company sizes and CROs.  We are experts in matching your skills and goals with the right company, regardless of the size and type.

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