Careers in Science Writing
There are a number of careers in which people with a science
background write as a major part of their job. What may spring
to mind first when you hear the term "science writer"
is a reporter covering science topics for a newspaper, but writing
careers for scientists are very diverse and include not only traditional
science journalism, but medical writing, technical writing/editing,
marketing, and science textbook publishing (and the list is by
no means complete!). There is definitely overlap among the four
areas listed below.
Science journalists may work as science, health, or medical beat
reporters for newspapers, as staff writers for magazines (e.g.
Newsweek), and as freelance writers specializing in science topics.
Freelancers sell their work to newspapers, magazines, and electronic
outlets, e.g. HMS Beagle.
Freelance pay might range from 25¢ to $1.50 per word. Pay
scale at HMS Beagle, for example, is 55¢/word. Visit our
science journalism page for information
on fellowships and awards, degree programs, and science writers
Medical writers may work for pharmaceutical companies, government
agencies, hospitals, medical schools, non-profit organizations,
publishing houses, or on contract through consulting firms. See
also our section on Science Journalism.
American Medical Writers Association.
European Medical Writers Association.
Council of Science Editors.
Health Sciences Communications
Association of Health Care
Are you a
medical writer? This page answers the question and shows the
diverse job titles that medical writers may have and the many
types of institutions that may employ them.
Journalism: Accessing and Writing for a Growing Market. Information
on freelance careers in medical writing.
Ph.D.: Making the Transition from Academia to Technical Communication.
An article packed with useful tips and resources.
Writing and Editing.
Technical science writers may work for pharmaceutical or biotech
companies or in other industrial fields, especially the computer
industry. Topics may include protocols for customers (e.g. physicans,
scientists) or in-house staff, product specifications and instructions.
Society for Technical Communication.
Why technical writers should have a portfolio, what to include,
and what makes a good portfolio.
Most pharmaceutical and biotech companies have marketing departments.
Someone has to write all the press releases, web site content,
advertisements, catalogs, and other marketing materials. Science
background in these positions can be critical.
Last updated September 21, 2000.
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