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 Journalism.
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 associations.

Medical Writing.
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.

Biocommunications Association.

Association of Health Care Journalists.

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.

Medical Journalism: Accessing and Writing for a Growing Market. Information on freelance careers in medical writing.

Portable Ph.D.: Making the Transition from Academia to Technical Communication. An article packed with useful tips and resources.

Technical 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.

Portfolio Workshop. 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.


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Traditional and Alternative Careers.
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Last updated September 21, 2000.


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