A Smart Idea
If you are pursuing education in the science or legal field, one of the best ways to help cover your tuition costs is to take on a position as a research assistant. Educational institutions often hire research assistants to aid professors in their ongoing work, and often offer flexible hours to accommodate class schedules and course work.
Research assistant jobs often require completion of an undergraduate degree, and may also require practical experience in the field.
Research Assistant Training
RA training really depends on the type of industry you choose to work in. There are many different types of research assistants, across all fields of academia. Among the most common are clinical research assistants, who work in hospitals or medical research institutions and assist with clinical trials. Clinical research assistant responsibilities include assisting in recruiting participants for clinical trials, filling out grant applications and assisting lead researchers in monitoring and conducting their research.
Other types of research assistant jobs include law office RAs, publishing and editorial RAs, psychology RAs and more.
Research assistants are generally paid very well, with average salaries falling in the $40,000 to $50,000 range. However, the work is often contract-based, as often RAs are hired only for a particular project.
Becoming a Research Assistant
To be a research assistant in any field, you must possess certain skills, such as data analysis, organization, attention to detail and the ability to take orders. Many research assistant positions also include dealing with the public, so good people skills may also be necessary.
Finding a research assistant job can be challenging, and you may have to do some digging to find one. Start with the department of interest at your educational institution — even if they don't have positions available, they may have suggestions for other places to look.
Because the positions can be difficult to find, you may need to take on roles outside your area of interest. For example, even if you desire to specialize in criminal law, you may want to take a position as a research assistant in tax or real estate law — all experience is valuable, and may help you land the position you want when it become available.