Medical and science writing is a tough field to penetrate for reasons involving education and experience, and I address those issues below. Other requirements for successful

Susan Oct 2013

Susan E Caldwell, PhD

medical writers include a strong command of their language, intermediate-to-advanced computer skills (particularly with Microsoft Word), and the ability to handle stress and work well on teams. Finally, the medical writer must be able to pay exquisite attention to detail when writing. For more details, see my blog article on What It Takes to Be a Medical Writer.

To the aspiring medical writer, I suggest the following general strategy:

EDUCATION

42-16216059Acquire enough higher education. In the US, this means at least a college degree, preferably in a life science. In fact, employers usually prefer to hire medical writers who have a masters or doctorate degree in a life science.

If needed, take a few writing courses to improve your basic writing skills. If you have a great education, but can’t write reasonably well, you won’t enjoy long-term success as a medical writer.

Take professional classes to supplement areas of your education that are deficient, such as training in ICH requirements for the content and structure of clinical documents. Such courses are offered by a few universities and professional organizations, such as Drug Information Association (DIA) and the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA).

EXPERIENCE

In general, the best way for a writer to understand the writing task is to have first-hand experience with the subject matter. For medical writers, this means that industry experience (biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, medical device, medical communications, and/or continuing medical education) is invaluable in providing a context or conceptual framework for the writing. You can acquire this experience with jobs as lab technicians, regulatory affairs associates, clinical research associates, and many others.

It is possible for medical writers who have no industry experience to do freelance medical writing, but the odds for success strongly favor those medical writers who have that experience.

PROFESSIONAL NETWORK

global networking

Become a member of DIA and/or AMWA. Both organizations have job and career resources that are valuable to aspiring and established medical writers. You will also meet many intelligent, fascinating people by attending their meetings and workshops.

Cultivate relationships with other medical writers and professionals in the biotechnology, pharmaceutical, medical device, medical communications, and/or continuing medical education businesses. Eventually, you will find job opportunities come from your network that you would never have access to otherwise.

The education, experience, and network development strategy briefly outlined here should prepare most aspiring medical writers to enter the job or contract market with a strong likelihood of success.

Copyright 2009-2016  Biotech Ink, LLC. All rights reserved.

44 responses »

  1. Jennifer Morris says:

    I am close to finishing my Master’s in chemistry (biochemistry really) and will be needing a job. I have a Pharm.D and worked in a variety of settings as a licensed pharmacist. I wanted to be a scientific / medical writer at that point but I didn’t know how to break into the field (the companies wanted experience). Now, once again, I am in the same predicament I was before, having realized that continuing my eduction/career in
    the biochemical research field is not what I want. I would like to begin learning how to successfully gain experience in the medical/scientific writing field. I believe I have the appropriate educational background, but I still am clueless as to how I begin. Once I join the DIA or AMWA will I be provided with pointers on how to make myself desirable to the hiring community? Thank you for time and consideration.

    research field will not be satisfying.

    • Jennifer,

      I’ve written some articles on this blog that address how to get into medical writing. In particular, please read the article on What It Takes to Be a Medical Writer; it’s about what you should DO and who you should BE in order to succeed in a medical writing career. Once you see what these essentials are–for example, an advanced medical vocabulary and good native English writing skills–I think you’ll have a better idea of how to proceed.

      Hope this helps, and let me know if you need more information.

      Best wishes,

      Susan

  2. Deena says:

    Hello Dr. Caldwell,
    I really like your blog and the information you have provided for medical writing aspirants. I have 2 years post doctoral experience (at University) in the field of Immunology and had taken a few courses in Pharmacology in my undergrad. Is it really required to have experience in a pharma/biotech company to step into medical writing. I am seriously considering to take this route of career. Any suggestion would be helpful.

    Thanks,
    Deena

    • Deena,

      Glad you are finding my blog helpful. It isn’t required to have industry experience before embarking on a medical writing career. However, you’ll find that getting started will be much easier with experience than if you haven’t worked in biopharmaceuticals. The reason is because you must understand the context of the documents you write–thus, you must understand where the documents fit into the process of developing drug or biologic products. I suggest you read the article here on my blog entitled, “What It Takes to Be a Medical Writer.” It is a good guide for who you are and what you must do to succeed in medical writing. If you can address all of the issues in that article, then you will be in a strong position to work as a successful medical writer.

      Best regards,

      Susan

  3. NIcole says:

    Hello,
    I am interested in getting into the field of medical writing, but am coming from an education background. I have taught English, Journalism and Communications for the past 12 years. I have a BA in English, and an MA in Education. I have no science background, but know that I am a talented researcher and interested in medicine and science. I was wondering if you could give me some suggestions as to how I might make this transition. Also, in general, if you think this transition is a viable option for someone with a teaching background. I am not sure how to market my skills to this type of job. i realize this is not a common career path, but have been reading quite a bit from our blog and others and it seems like the type of technical writing I would be interested in if I were to pursue a new job.
    Thank you,
    Nicole

    • Nicole,

      You haven’t said what kind of medical writing you want to do, so I can’t be very specific. However, for most positions in medical writing, you need a background that includes formal education in a life science and/or experience in the biopharma industry or medical communications. I have known numerous medical writers who learned on the job after several years of biopharma experience, without having had formal education in the life sciences. However, it’s harder to succeed with that background, because you’re competing with writers who have masters or doctorate degrees in the medical and life sciences.

      Best wishes,

      Susan

  4. Aura says:

    Hi Susan

    I find your blog extremely helpful for an aspiring medical writer like myself. Although I am young, and still completing my undergraduate degree (currently a sophomore) I find this field entails to both things I love – writing and medicine. What track do you suggest people like myself should follow in their early college career?

    I am now a volunteer at a neuro-oncology research lab and intend to do it until I graduate. I am also a biology major, and I work as a medical scribe, However I am confused as to whether I should continue on the pre-medicine track or if I should try to minor in journalism or communications. What advice do you suggest?

    • Aura,

      The volunteer work is a great idea, because it gives you a taste of what research is about. The pre-med track is great preparation for many career areas, including medical writing, and you could add a minor in journalism or communications to cover that aspect of medical writing. Sounds like a great plan.

      However, if you know you want to write manuscripts or do clinical and regulatory writing, a Masters degree in a medical research area would be very good preparation. In fact, many medical writing positions are easier to get if you have an advanced degree in a life science.

      Regards,

      Susan

  5. Evangeline4 says:

    Hello! I ran across your website today — I have a master’s in Technical Communication, and took classes in medical writing and technical writing. My BA is in Creative Writing, and I have experience writing some medical papers, business papers, textbook editing and writing, and many other fields.
    Do you think my experience and education is sufficient to obtain an entry-level medical writing job?

    • Evangeline,

      In part, it depends on what kind of medical writing you want to do. Regulatory writing, for example, demands experience in the biopharmaceutical or medical device industries; without that experience, you have no context for writing regulatory and clinical documents. You may be able to get into writing medical manuscripts, abstracts, posters, meeting abstracts, and the like without further experience.

      Regards,

      Susan

  6. Sophia says:

    Dear Dr. Caldwell,

    I’m interested in becoming a medical writer (28 years, master and phd in human biology, 2 years of postdoc experience in clinical research, 5 first author publications, freelance proofreading of academic theses and publications). Do you think there is a chance to get hired if I attend courses in medical writing (for example at the EMWA) and drug/device development? Are there companies hiring unexperienced academics? I ask this, especially as I wouldn’t claim myself to be a medical writer at this point of my career.
    I was also wondering whether there are trainee positions in medical writing?
    Best regards,
    Sophia

    • Sophia,

      You’re wise to think about medical writing courses, because they can help fill in the gaps in your experience (which is terrific, by the way). DIA and EMWA offer such courses, some of them online, and they are generally of high quality and worth doing. You haven’t said what kind of medical writing you want to do. Regulatory writers generally must have experience writing clinical research and regulatory documents before they are hired. It should be easier for you to get hired as a medical manuscript writer, because you already have a publication record.

      Various medical writing training courses have popped up over the last several years. Suggest you Google the topic and read about those that are available. I can vouch for the quality of those you can get from AMWA and DIA, as I have taken some of them–and they are excellent. Regarding other courses that are available, be careful if you choose to take them. Some are surveys of the field of medical writing, and others train you for various types of medical writing. Do a lot of reading, so that you have a clear understanding of the various flavors of the profession. This will allow you to make wiser choices if you decide to sign up for training.

      Note also that some pharmaceutical and biotech companies provide internships, especially in the summers, in various disciplines. Even if you can’t get a medical writing internship, some industry experience will be invaluable in giving you context for how medical writing fits into the overall process of drug or biologic development.

      Regards,

      Susan

  7. Rafi says:

    Dr. Caldwell,

    Hi, I’m an undergraduate student pursuing an English major and a Biology minor. I plan on becoming a medical writer in the future, but I feel that I need experience in the field. Where would you suggest I look for internships or beginner-level jobs? I applied at larger companies like Johnson & Johnson and Merck, but those are more competitive positions that are not as likely to hire someone with no experience. I appreciate your advice!

    Thanks,
    Rafi

    • Rafi,

      Some of the large pharmaceutical companies offer internships, but you should also look at the smaller biotechnology companies. They may not offer as many internships as the larger companies, but there may be less competition for the available openings. It’s a great way to get your foot in the door.

      Best wishes as you launch your career,

      Susan

  8. Arlene Carr says:

    Hi Dr. Caldwell,

    I have been a writer/copy editor and translator for 20 years, mainly in publishing and marketing. I was also a medical interpreter at a major pediatric hospital and later worked on marketing pieces for a few pharmaceutical accounts.

    I have decided to leave advertising in favor of a new career in medical editing/writing and combine my two loves: Writing and medicine. I joined the AMWA and I’m going to take their courses toward a certificate in order to have a credential so I have something to begin with.

    What kind of possibilities do you see for someone like me in this field? Also, I’m bilingual in English-Spanish.

    Thank you for your time,
    Arlene

    • Hi, Arlene,

      You have a great background. If you enhance it with AMWA and/or DIA courses and possibly BELS, you should have a good chance for breaking into the medical writing field. The hardest part will likely be getting started. If you have any publications that speak to your ability to write, and especially your ability to write on medical topics, you should include these in your resume. If you have publications for which you can provide copies for anyone who wants to read a sample, so much the better.

      You haven’t said what kind of medical writing you want to do. I cannot address how easy or difficult it would be to be a medical writer/journalist, as this is not something I have done. If you want to do regulatory or clinical medical writing in the biopharmaceutical or medical device industries, you will likely need experience in the industry before you’ll be successful doing that type of writing.

      Hope this is helpful, and I wish you all the best in your new career path,

      Susan

  9. Rita says:

    Dear Dr. Caldwell:
    I have been an academic researcher for almost 20 years. My current appointment is as a faculty member and director of an academic pharmacology and molecular oncology research lab. I have worked part-time as a freelance contract medical editor and writer for the past three years. My goal is to transition to a full-time medical writing and editing career. I am a member of AMWA and am studying to take the BELS certification examination. Do you have advice on how a mid-career academic researcher can make a successful career transition to medical writing? In addition, what parts of my academic career, such as grant writing, publications, teaching, and invited lectures, should I highlight in my resume?
    Thank you for your time.
    Rita

    • Rita,

      Please look at some of the other emails to me about this topic, as I address this issue for others as well. Regarding your background, it is very good for medical writing. What you haven’t told me is the type of medical writing you want to do. If regulatory writing is where you want to go, you’ll need industry experience.

      Regarding your resume, as you noted, you really should accentuate your writing experience, publications, and other evidence of your productivity and ability to handle technical topics.

      Best regards,

      Susan

  10. Very interesting. Thank you. I have been a nurse for 25 years and just received a BS in Paralegal Studies. I have excellent language and writing skills and skilled in Microsoft Office Suite. Where would you recommend that I start if I had an interest in getting into this field? Thank you,

    • Tracee,

      Please read my article on “What It Takes to Be a Medical Writer.” After that, if you think you’re a good candidate, then I suggest you get experience in the biopharmaceutical or medical device industries if you want to be a regulatory medical writer. Alternatively, you could try to get work writing for hospitals. The big thing no matter which type of writing you want to do is getting the experience. Emphasize your writing experience and abilities in your resume, along with your strong life science/medical background.

      Best wishes,

      Susan

  11. Janet says:

    I am interested in the idea of medical writing, but I seem to be approaching it from a different angle than many of the people here. I have a B.A. in English and creative writing, but switched careers and spent 30 years as an R.N., primarily as a case manager in home care. Is there a nitch in this market for someone who would love to use that background to establish a part time encore career?

    • Janet,

      Truly, I don’t know. In general, your education and experience are a good combination, but you haven’t said what kind of medical writing you’re interested in. There’s a huge jump to getting into regulatory writing, because of all the regulations and work experience that’s required. You could potentially write manuscripts, but the MDs and PhDs who do manuscripts will have a big competitive advantage. There is journalism and marketing medical writing, but I have no idea what the hurdles are to getting into those areas. Suggest you talk to folks who have done other types of medical writing to get a better idea of what’s involved in getting started and what the hurdles are. Wish I could be more helpful!

      All the best,

      Susan

  12. E. H. says:

    Hi Dr. Caldwell,

    Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts on technical writing with the world. I found your posts to be very informative!

    Do you believe that someone in my situation can become a technical writer in the biotech or medical industry? My credentials are as follows:

    I am a first year law student who majored in Spanish language and literature. I have excellent communication skills in both English and Spanish and am capable of working with dense, technical documents. To obtain a solid background in science, I intend to audit all of the courses required for a major in Biology. In addition, I may enroll in Duke University’s Technical Communications certificate program.

    If you could provide me with an advice, I would appreciate it greatly!

    Thank you,
    E. H.

    • Hi, E.H.,

      You haven’t said what kind of technical writing you want to do, so my options for advising you are limited. It sounds like you may have the writing ability. However, the background you describe is on the limited side–but I don’t know how much you’ll need, since I don’t know the type of medical writing you want to do.

      Whatever type of writing you want to do, you will likely need some work experience before you’ll be positioned to take off with a career in that area. Be prepared for a lot of work to get where you want to go!

      Best regards,

      Susan

  13. Paul says:

    Hi Dr. Caldwell,

    I read some of your posts and they are the kind of information I’ve been looking for. Thanks a lot. I am a technical editor with an MA in English and experience in technical writing and editing. I edit research reports, journal articles and conference papers in fields like petroleum, aquaculture, agriculture, environment, etc. I’ve been thinking of narrowing my field to medical editing, mainly because healthcare is a field I’ve always liked. I love to read health-related articles as well.

    I would like to know whether it is possible for me to enter the medical editing field with an education in humanities and experience in technical writing and editing. I’ve been reading about it for some time now. What I understood is that medical writing is of two types, the clinical one and the marketing one (please correct me if I am wrong). I intend to try for the latter, as many websites I browsed mentioned that writers with little background in life sciences cannot edit clinical documents.

    What should be my first step? Do you think I can fill the gap in my knowledge by doing introductory courses in life sciences through online educational websites like coursera? Or university extensions?

    Another thing I would to know is whether employers prefer native English speaking medical writers. I’ve often seen employers mentioning they need native English speakers. I am from India. I’ve been using English since kindergarten, and English has been my primary language since the 13 years of my working. Would that still be insufficient?

    Looking forward to your reply. Thanks.

    • Hi, Paul,

      Glad you find these posts useful. Your English is excellent, and I would never have known that it isn’t your first language. In my opinion, your written English is certainly sufficiently “native” sounding for you to do medical writing. That’s good news! So, I think I’ve answered your second major question. Next, let’s tackle the first one you asked–about how to get into medical writing in the marketing arena.

      Medical writing can be regulatory and clinical documents, or it can be manuscripts, marketing, or medical journalism. Of these, my expertise is in regulatory writing and manuscripts. I wouldn’t even think about trying to advise you on how to get into the marketing category, as I know almost nothing about it.

      Hope this is helpful. Best wishes for good decisions and an exciting new career path,

      Susan

  14. Sindel says:

    Hi susan,
    I have done my Masters in Physical therapy. Having done some research work during my masters, I want to know if I can switch careers to medical writing? I have good theoretical and I am familiar with the concepts and have good writing skills.

    Would highly appreciate any kind of advice and your valuable inputs.

    Regards,

    Sindel

    • Hi,

      With a PT background, it may not be a huge leap into MW. You already have much of the medical vocabulary and concepts. If you want to be a regulatory writer, what you need is industry experience, experience writing clinical and regulatory documents. I’d suggest going for a position in biotech or pharmaceuticals, preferably in regulatory affairs (eg, a regulatory affairs associate) or clinical research. This would give you the background information on drug development that you need to understand before you can be a competent regulatory writer.

      Best wishes for your future career.

      Susan

  15. Hi Susan says:

    I live in Bangladesh. I’ll be completing my under-graduation this year on pharmaceutical science, my major is pharmacology. I really want to pursue my career in medical writer at this point; and since I live in Bangladesh I want to look into jobs of online medical writer. I have no experience whatsoever in this field. Can you please advice me where I can look for this kind of job. Thank you.

    • You can’t do it without experience. Read my article on What It Takes to Be a Medical Writer and you’ll understand why. It takes a lot of planning and preparation to succeed as a medical writer, particularly a regulatory medical writer.

  16. Jodie Guy says:

    Hi,

    I would just like to say ‘thank you’ for taking the time to put together so much information for aspiring medical writers. I have a PhD in biochemistry and am currently a young PI in a medical research institute, but am trying to build up the courage to take the jump out of academia and follow my heart into medical writing. Several of your posts on this website have helped me a lot.

    Best regards,

    Jo

    • Hi, Jo,

      Many thanks for your kind words. I’m so glad the articles in my blog have been helpful. I’m hopeful that, as medical writing as a career becomes better recognized, more information will also be available online to help people transition from other careers into medical writing.

      Best regards,

      Susan

  17. Amanda says:

    Susan,

    I’m about to graduate with a B.S. in biological sciences. I have two years of lab experience plus a senior thesis project, so have some experience with independent research. I have no industry experience. I started out this degree believing that I wanted a career in scientific research, but my research experience in undergrad has taught me that I actually can’t stand benchwork and have no interest in a research career after all. I have offers of admission to MS and PhD programs in the bio sciences and am on the fence as to whether I should accept them. The MS would undoubtedly help, but that means another two or three years at the bench – and I’m already burned out on research as it is!

    As an alternative career, I’m considering a move into science writing. Much as I don’t actually like *doing* science, I do enjoy learning, reading, and writing about it, and have done some freelance writing work in the past. Unfortunately, my writing background isn’t extensive. Would I be able to make a career as a technical/medical writer or editor work, given my background? And if not, would I be better off looking for industry experience or going for the MS?

    Best,

    Amanda

    • Amanda,

      The short answer is to read my article, “What It Takes to Be a Medical Writer”–I wrote it for folks like you who are considering a career in this field. You need to read it carefully and do some *honest* introspection about whether you are that type of person. I think if you do that, and you pay attention to your own words (eg, “I’m already burned out…”), I think you will find an answer that’s right for you.

      All the best,

      Susan

  18. Dr.Preetish says:

    Hi Susan,
    I am a post-graduate student in Pharmacology in India.I am very much interested in entering into Medical writing field.Is there any online Certificate Course available?if it is there , then what is the best institutions/university from which i can pursue medical writing course? and what is the scope in medical writing? kindly help me on this.
    Thanking you
    Dr.Preetish

    • Hi, Dr. Preetish,
      I suggest you google medical writing classes and similar search terms, and you’ll find some universities and professional organizations that offer training and degrees in medical writing. Medical writing scope can be in the areas of regulatory writing, manuscript writing, journalism, marketing, and perhaps others. One suggestion: check out the Drug Information Association and American Medical Writers Association web sites for high-quality training in various medical writing topics.

      Hope this helps,

      Susan

  19. Hezi says:

    Dear Susan,

    You’ve written lengthily about how to become a MW, but what about a –freelance– MW? (Maybe you have and I missed it).

    Can one become a freelancer without working as a MW in a company before? (Seems impossible to me).

    Why would a company MW desert a lucrative, secure job to become a chronically cash-flow-insecure freelancer, as I believe you did?

    Would you say that the majority of regulatory medical writing in the world is done by regulars or by freelancers?

    If I start today my new business as a contractor MW, what kind of workload should I expect? Is the market completely saturated, so that I’ll need to literally chase pharma-industry managers and beg them, or is there actually a serious shortage of MW in the world? How will potential clients even hear about me? It’s not like they Google “medical writer” whenever they have a job, right…?

    What if I can’t really afford incomeless periods–is a career as a freelancer MW precluded for me?

    Can you expand on why you insist that the required experience with regard to how the pharma industry works must be actual work experience, and cannot be taught from books, for example, or by simply starting as a MW and being tutored? Life taught me that very little in this world cannot be learnt by doing; is MW really an exception? Do most MW start their careers as researchers in pharma companies and then switch to MW? Seems to me like a real hassle. I really want to get into MW, but to first get experience in a pharma company and then to leave that job for an insecure future in MW sounds a bit crazy to me…

    Thanks for the lovely blog!

    • Hezi,

      Thanks for your thoughtful questions. Here are my thoughts:

      Becoming a freelance (contract) medical writer is extremely difficult, if not impossible, without industry experience. Period. It gets down to this: you can’t write well about something you don’t understand, and you must have a reasonably thorough understanding of the drug/biologic development process in order to write clinical and regulatory documents about it. (I’ve covered this issue in my article, “What It Takes to Be a Medical Writer.”) In the future, there may be numerous books that can teach what you learn when you work in the drug industry, but as of now, I’m not aware of any that can deliver that kind of knowledge. It’s also unlikely that a prospective employer will hire you if they see you’ve never written the documents that they’re interested in, such as investigator brochures, study protocols, clinical study reports, amendments, annual reports, INDs, NDAs, and BLAs. And those documents are almost always written by in-house writers or *experienced* contract writers. The reason? It’s actually simple–those documents are too important to the company’s success to trust them to a writer who can’t show that they already know how to write them.

      There are many reasons why an employed medical writer would become a freelancer. Although the income is less secure, the compensation is actually greater than for those with a permanent position. And it should be greater, because working as a 1099 freelance writer means you usually get no benefits, so you need to make up for those lost benefits in your compensation. As a W-2 freelance writer, which is becoming very common, one sometimes receives benefits, and the salary is somewhat less than for 1099 writers. But the bottom line is that compensation is usually excellent for freelance medical writers in the biopharmaceutical industry.

      Other reasons for becoming a freelance medical writer include the ability to work from home and often from remote geographic locations; increased autonomy during the day (ie, “being your own boss”); and a greater variety of medical writing projects than is often available in a permanent position. There are probably other advantages, but those are the ones that come to mind now.

      Currently, demand for regulatory medical writers is quite strong. The requirements for entering this field are pretty tough, of course, but after you’re in, you’ll find there’s a great need for competent regulatory writers. After all, the need is driven by the need companies have for qualified writers who know also know medicine and the legal requirements that govern their documents. When drug companies are ready to submit their research and candidate drug for approval to the FDA or other regulatory agencies, they must adhere to those regulations in the way they write and file their request for drug approval (NDA or BLA) with the agency. The regulatory medical writer is the only person qualified to do that type of work, assuming they know how to write and know medical terms and concepts, the drug development process, and the ICH and other requirements and guidelines that dictate how these documents are written. Having already spent large sums on the drug’s development, including preclinical research and clinical trials, most drug companies know it’s well worth hiring competent regulatory writers to develop their drug applications (requests to approve the drug for commercial sale). A refusal to accept their application, because it wasn’t written according to regulations, can cost a company much time and income while they try to fix the problems and refile their application–sometimes weeks or months later.

      But you need to know that there can be dry periods. When the economy of a country suffers, companies tend to not spend on expensive freelancers if they can get their employees to do the work, at least temporarily. I’ve seen this in my career and in others’ as well. If you don’t have sufficient financial padding to be able to weather periods of little or no business, I strongly recommend against jumping into freelance medical writing. If, as you said, you cannot really afford incomeless periods, you should not do freelance medical writing.

      Marketing yourself as a freelance writer is a subject that would require a lot of time to discuss. Suffice it to say that word of mouth is a valuable way to get business (and you acquire the network when you work in the industry), as is having a web site that shows you’re a freelancer.

      People come into medical writing from all sorts of academic and career backgrounds–medicine, dentistry, and veterinary medicine; English literature; physical therapy; nursing; and many other disciplines. An advanced life science degree (MD, PhD, DDS, DVM, MS, etc) is a distinct advantage in the medical writing job market, whether you’re seeking a permanent or freelance opportunity. In addition, industry experience is another huge competitive advantage. If you have neither, it will be very hard to break in. That’s why I strongly recommend an advanced life science degree (a bachelor’s degree is the minimum academic requirement) and at least a few years of drug development experience in a biopharmaceutical company, if you want to do freelance work. These are the qualifications that employers and hiring managers look for in employees and contract medical writers. Without them, you’re going to have a tough time getting hired.

      Having said all that, I would never say you can’t be successful if you just go for it! If a company is desperate, with no viable candidates to fill a freelance position, you might be hired because you’re at the right place at the right time. The advice I’ve provided above, however, argues that the chances of that happening are very slim. It’s also my opinion, based on being a consultant for over 10 years and having been employed as the head of medical writing at 5 biopharmaceutical companies. I’ve seen it from both sides.

      Hope this is helpful,

      Susan

  20. goel says:

    Hi Susan

    I am a dentist from India, currently in USA for few years. I want to pursue my career in medical writing. Would my degree in Dentistry help me getting a starting job as i have no experience with this field? Do I need to do a course in medical writing to get a job?

    I hope my previous experience as a dentist of 15 years helps me getting into medical writer career.

    Shilpa

    • Hi, Shilpa,

      Your dentistry degree should be a very good foundation for medical writing, because an education in dentistry includes medical concepts and vocabulary. Please see other articles on my blog about what is required to get into medical writing, and also whether it’s right for you (“What It Takes to Be a Medical Writer”). You still need drug development experience, and you may also be able to enhance your qualifications by taking courses through various universities, AMWA, and/or DIA.

      All the best,

      Susan

  21. Tanusha.S says:

    Hello Dr. Caldwell

    I’m pursuing my master’s degree in biotechnology currently I’m in the final year with 2 months left for the completion of my dissertation realised I didn’t want to continue in research field and I enjoy writing and reading and also I really like this field and do not want to quit which made me realise it’s best if I could start my job as a medical writer. I wanted to know the future in this field and opportunities that we have in this field. I don’t have any course related as a technical writer though so could please tell me how I could go ahead with this. Thankyou.

    • Tanusha,

      The future of medical writing, in particular regulatory medical writing, is very bright. It is not a crowded field, because of the difficulty of meeting the requirements for the job (including medical concepts and vocabulary, expert writing skills in native American English, leadership skills, excellent computer skills, and others). Compensation is high as writing jobs go, at least in the US, and demand is vigorous. Please see other articles on my blog about how to get into medical writing, and more importantly, evaluate for yourself whether it’s right for you (“What It Takes to Be a Medical Writer”).

      Best regards,

      Susan

  22. Derrick Kitwe says:

    I’m a graduate of a Bachelor’s in medical laboratory technology. I’m interested in medical writing especially in community health aspects, project proposal development, laboratory medicine capacity building in developing countries, vaccine and drug trials, epidemiology, as well as books editing.
    I have good command of English, and have been a general Secretary of some medical association. I’m endowed with figures of speech, analytical and conceptualization skills.
    How do I go about my career/ any connections??

    • Derrick,

      Thanks for writing, but I don’t really know much about that type of medical writing. My work is done mainly in the biopharmaceutical industry, so some of the work you mentioned is outside that arena. Suggest looking at related blogs, and courses in medical writing may also help.

      Best wishes,

      Susan

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s