RAPS’ 2014 Scope of Practice & Compensation Survey found that US-based regulatory professionals who have earned their Regulatory Affairs Certification (RAC), on average, earn 10.6% more than their peers without the credential. At some levels, the salary differential is even more significant, with base salaries for regulatory associates holding the RAC at 17% more than their non-certified colleagues. Overall, 59% of those responding to the survey have earned the RAC.
While it is unlikely a regulatory professional knows whether he or she is better compensated than colleagues, Regulatory Focus recently spoke with three individuals who have earned the RAC to ask what they see as the impact of having the credential.
Peter Takes, PhD, RAC, FRAPS, is vice president of regulatory and clinical affairs and quality systems at Kypha Inc. Takes earned his RAC in 1996, when there was only one exam. On the issue of pay, Takes commented, “the RAC should mean better compensation but it is really based on the company’s awareness of what that means. If I am hiring, I would tend to pay a person who has an RAC more than someone who does not. If the company is fully aware and understands regulatory, the RAC should mean better compensation, but it is very company-dependent.”
In response to the question, what do you see as the value of the RAC, Jill Wilson, RAC, director of QMS for IBA Molecular North America, said, “I find that with the certification, there is more trust regarding the knowledge of someone who has an RAC. RAC professionals have to continue to keep up with the regulations and earn CE credits, whereas those with a masters in regulatory do not. There’s value in knowing that RAC professionals are current with regulations and are not ‘dated.’”
Julie Omohundro, RAC (US, Global), principal consultant with Class Three LLC, sees it slightly differently. “For someone who says they are interested in getting into the profession, I think it [earning the RAC] is indicative of the seriousness of their intent. It makes life simpler for people who screen job applications, and I think it helps job seekers get through the resume screening process.”
It should be noted that, depending on the highest degree they have earned, RAC candidates must have at least one to three years of regulatory-related experience to be eligible to take the RAC exam.
In Takes opinion, “it gets you more respect among your peers, it gives you more confidence, and it gives you an advantage when looking for a job. When I am looking for a new employee for a regulatory or quality position, the first thing I do is look to see whether they are board certified. In my old job, anyone manager level or above was required to have a board certification or pursue one within one year. Everyone below manager level was encouraged to pursue a board certification, and the company supported that activity.”
When asked what the RAC has meant to them professionally, the three had similar responses.
Wilson said, “It justifies my role in my current employment, and senior management is more likely to go to me when they have questions or need guidance since I have a proven track record.”
To Takes, "having the RAC has made me more confident, more sure of my capabilities and made me pursue more frequent CEU events and activities because I am compelled even more to stay current. In some venues it has gotten me more respect and more consideration because I am board certified.”
Omohundro stated, “It has allowed me to provide better guidance to people who are taking the exam, or who are considering taking it. It probably also gives me a bit more credibility with some people, especially people in areas other than regulatory. Within the profession, my professional experience and accomplishments overshadow the RAC.”
The RAC is intended for those who have three or more years of experience in regulatory, but some individuals opt to take it earlier in their careers. Takes, Omohundro and Wilson were each asked what advice they would give to those new to regulatory.
Omohundro’s response was, “They will find it helpful to have a regulatory credential. One credential is the RAC, but there are others, and they should consider their options and pick the one that best suits their professional goals.”
Takes said, “I would advise them to get some form of certification, whether it’s the RAC or some other certification. As far as the RAC goes, I would recommend the RAC for anyone in regulatory. Then, they need to really look at what area their work is focused on, review the RAC options and decide which exam is right for them.”
There currently are four RAC exams, US, EU, Canada and Global. As the Scope of Practice & Compensation Survey results show, earning the RAC can have a positive impact on compensation. The comments from these three individuals demonstrate the certification can benefit one’s career in a number of other ways as well.