Individuals adept at understanding health-related issues and explaining these concepts in ways others can understand may want to consider a medical writing career. Medical equipment firms, pharmaceutical companies, health organizations and publications, academic institutions, and healthcare websites are some of the many employers that seek medical writers to convey information.
Often considered a specialty under the general heading of technical writing, medical writing ranks among the highest paying types of writing jobs. Medical writers earn an average annual salary of $73,117, according to Glassdoor.
Job prospects appear promising for those interested in medical writing careers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment of medical writers and other technical writers to grow 8% between 2018 and 2028, with much of this increase stemming from the vast number of medical studies being conducted and new drugs coming to market.
Might a medical writing career be a good choice for you? Here, we examine what is involved in becoming a medical writer.
What Is Medical Writing?
Tasks required of medical writers differ significantly based on the purpose of the documents created and the intended audience. Creating a package insert for a digital thermometer a consumer buys to use at home, for instance, is very different from presenting the findings of a clinical study in an academic journal read by medical experts. Knowing the intended audience and adjusting one’s writing to the appropriate level is critical. Medical writers can work on a variety of different assignments, ranging from clinical journal articles to booklets. Regardless of setting, though, the tone takes on more of a formal tone and is technical in nature.
Where Does Medical Writing Get Published?
To get an idea of the diverse nature of medical writing, consider this sample of what medical writers get called upon to produce:
- Newspaper, magazine, and website articles read by the general public
- Journal pieces ready by doctors, scientists, and other experts
- Medical textbooks and other educational material for physicians
- Training manuals for medical sales representatives
- Instruction booklets, usage guidelines, and other literature to accompany over-the-counter and prescription drugs and medical equipment
- Promotional material targeted at healthcare professionals, such as summarizing a new drug they might want to prescribe to their patients
- Clinical trial protocols
- Regulatory submission documents
- Annual safety reports
- Research proposals
- Consent documents
Medical Writer Educational Requirements
Just as responsibilities differ, so does the educational level employers look for in job candidates. Minimally, jobs call for a bachelor’s degree, usually with a background in a scientific or medical discipline. Employers also may consider English majors and others with strong writing skills if they demonstrate a commitment to becoming well-versed in the subject area in which they’ll write.
As the complexity of the final documents produced increases, so does the educational requirement. Many medical writing positions require a master’s degree or higher. Advanced knowledge is necessary in order to understand terminology and concepts, converse adeptly with scientific and medical professionals, and present information in a precise, industry-standard format.
Skills Necessary for Medical Writing
While individual jobs are bound to have unique requirements, employers generally look at the following when evaluating candidates for medical writing positions:
- Strong writing skills and the ability to tailor communication to the intended audience
- Solid ability to perform background literature research
- Strong ability to analyze and convey data findings
- Commitment to precision, thoroughness, double-checking, and asking questions of appropriate people when confused
Finding Flexible Jobs as a Medical Writer
If you’re looking for medical writing jobs, consider using FlexJobs in your search. Our database updates daily with the latest flexible jobs in more than 50 categories. And, all of our openings are fully vetted and verified.
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Beth Braccio Hering, Writer
Beth Braccio Hering has been a freelance writer for 20 years. In addition to extensive contributions to various Encyclopaedia Britannica products, her work has been published by outlets such as CareerBuilder, Johnson & Johnson’s BabyCenter, Walt Disney Internet Group, and…Read More >
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