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Medical Writer: Guide Into Profession

Posted by ClickHelp TeamClickHelp Teamin Technical Writing on 12/13/2019 — 4 minute read

blue stethoscope and laptop

Medical writing sounds like an excellent choice of occupation. It is connected to such noble professions as a doctor or a scientist on the one hand, and it is technical writing on the other. Today we will give you an insight into this job. By the end of this blog, you will understand what it takes to be a medical writer and get a full understanding of whether this is something you’d like to do.

What Does a Medical Writer Do?

There are many types of medical writing. Such as white papers, scientific articles, regulatory documents, presentations, educational materials, newsletters, website content, etc.

All these things fit in somewhere between regulatory medical writing and medical communication. Naturally, people with more scientific knowledge are drawn towards regulatory writing, while people with more general knowledge can give medical communication a try.

Some medical writers don’t generate much content at all – they either translate or edit and proofread translations done by others. This is another interesting area of medical writing that is hiring now – a lot of technical documents need a translation.

Medical Writer Education Requirements

Becoming a medical writer has some prerequisites; you might need to have a degree in medicine or science (chemistry, biochemistry, biology, and the like) to do certain types of work as a medical writer.

The main reason for such a requirement is the target audience. Medical writers can create content for clinical professionals and drug regulators. These technical documents contain complex medical terminology. And, topics can be very field-specific, as well. So without special education, it will be extremely hard to create a good user manuals.

But at the same time, it doesn’t mean that you have zero chance of landing this job without such a degree. The ability to produce comprehensive content and communicate ideas clearly through text is just as important. And there are people in the field whose excellent writing skills helped them get employed as medical writers.

So, having a degree in anything language-related is highly appreciated, too, especially when combined with good analytical skills and an understanding of human physiology. In case you would like to learn more about which skills are preferable for tech writers at the moment, technical or language skills, check out this article Language vs. Technical Skills in Technical Writing.

girl on macbook and phone

Medical Writer Skills and Qualifications

First, it is necessary to mention that a medical writer is no single occupation. It actually offers many roles. You can work for non-profit organizations, hospitals, journals, government agencies, universities, or as a freelance writer. That is plenty of things to choose from.

Medical writing unites one’s passion for medicine, research, and writing.

Here are the essential skills that companies look for in a medical writer that make them stand out:

  1. Writing skills. Logical and concise with accurate data interpretation and representation.
  2. Domain knowledge. In-depth knowledge of varied therapeutic areas, life sciences, and key statistical concepts.
  3. Understand your audience. Know who you are writing for: regulators, scientists, doctors, consumers, or the general public.
  4. Data reliability. Maintain accuracy, consistency, and security of data – using severe document management systems.
  5. Be on the front burner. Track new relevant information, and undergo regular training and online courses to enhance your skills.
  6. Analytical skills. Use a well-planned search strategy, appropriate keywords, and a variety of sources when researching journal articles and medical research papers.
  7. Independency. Perform critical review of the content, and interpret results correctly.
  8. Interpersonal skills. Good verbal, non-verbal, and listening skills for problem-solving, negotiation, and decision-making.
  9. Management skills. Highly organized, proactive, and accountable for quality. Accept responsibilities and delegate efficiently.

How to Become a Medical Writer

Medical writers come to the field from a variety of different disciplines and are in great demand in the healthcare industry. Big pharma organizations and smaller healthcare startups need to hire a medical writer who can help them communicate the benefits of their products to their target audience.

The wide range of companies and organizations that employ medical communicators allows dividing the field into different writing settings and specializations, each requiring specific technical writing skills or knowledge of medical terminology.

  • In this step, it’s important to focus on an area you’re most interested in and that best matches your skillset. But still, no matter what your training has been, you should take an inventory of what you know and don’t know how to do.
  • The next step is to become aware of the resources available to you. AMWA offers many opportunities to support new medical communicators and a wealth of professional development resources to help throughout an evolving career.
  • Networking is a great way to connect with other medical communicators. It provides informal learning opportunities and helps find a new position. No matter what social network you are using (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, community boards, or conference attendance), it is important to seek out ways to stay connected and contribute to positive health outcomes through communication.

medical books

Medical Writer Salary

With a greater understanding of the role of the technical medical writer and the available opportunities, people with a passion for writing and science can excel in this interesting and ever‑changing field.

The range typically falls between $55,298 and $73,843. These ranges vary widely because they depend on many factors, like education, certifications, additional skills, the number of years in this profession.


Technical writers can be found in so many professional fields. This is almost a universal job that can take you places. Medical writing is yet another great occupation open for tech comm specialists.

Although this particular field of knowledge requires a technical writer to meet certain standards, it is in no way a ‘restricted area.’ Quite the contrary – medical writing is a great way to start a successful career. You might need to start small if you don’t have a medical degree, but, anyway, this is such a great place to start – a huge industry with tremendous opportunities for growth and a plethora of things to do for a technical writer!

Good luck with your technical writing!
ClickHelp Team
Author, host and deliver documentation across platforms and devices

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