What is a medical writer? Think about all those drug information inserts, those handouts on heart disease or diabetes you see at the doctor’s office, or even those lovely medical journals we read like the New England Journal of Medicine. Don’t forget research grants, consolidating statistics, clinical protocols for research, and more. Many of those words were written by experienced medical writers.
The field comprises of people trained at an associates level, bachelors, masters, and advanced degrees. So with that said, the income is pretty varied. But for those with the MD behind them, it’s a decent income.
It was difficult to find some salaries for you to get an idea. The main reason for this is because of the varied educational levels possible to become a medical writer. I did find one survey that can shed some light. The American Medical Writers Association released a survey in 2007. At that time, writers with advanced degrees were making a mean of $91,797 to $101,872. The range of salaries varied from $68,000 to $158,000.
You’ll have to consider that some of these may be just starting out in the field vs experienced professionals. And some of the differences in salary are gender based.
Now, in 2011, the AMWA released a new survey which stated that there was a 12.9% increase in salaries from it’s 2007 survey. That brings the new mean to about $115,000. That’s pretty good! The most experienced medical writers are making roughly the same as primary care physicians!
Many employers are looking for medical writers with an MD or DO degree. Beyond that, they are hoping you have good communication skills with previous writing experience in your resume. If you have marketing experience, that’s a plus too. Having research experience or academic experience can further boost your hiring potential.
Don’t have any writing experience? You could join the American Medical Writers Association. They offer conferences with workshops to gain the skills you need to be competitive. There are also CME’s on the internet and even certificates in medical writing.
Here are some of the “fields” you can get training in:
- Consumer Health
- Abstracts and Posters
- Scientific or Medical Journals
- Biostatistics and Epidemiology
- Continuing Medical Education
Medical writers take an enormous amount of data and put it into words for the rest of us to read and make sense of. Physicians can break into this field because of the vast medical knowledge they already have. As long as you can communicate it by writing technically, you may be able to make a good living as a medical writer.