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Become A Medical Writer

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Working As A Medical Writer

  • Interacting With Computers
  • Getting Information
  • Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Mostly Sitting

  • Repetitive

  • Stressful

  • $79,196

    Average Salary

What Does A Medical Writer Do

Technical writers, also called technical communicators, prepare instruction manuals, how-to guides, journal articles, and other supporting documents to communicate complex and technical information more easily. They also develop, gather, and disseminate technical information through an organization’s communications channels.

Duties

Technical writers typically do the following:

  • Determine the needs of users of technical documentation
  • Study product samples and talk with product designers and developers
  • Work with technical staff to make products easier to use and thus require fewer instructions
  • Organize and write supporting content for products
  • Use photographs, drawings, diagrams, animation, and charts that increase users’ understanding
  • Select appropriate medium for message or audience, such as manuals or online videos
  • Standardize content across platforms and media
  • Gather user feedback to update and improve content
  • Revise content as new issues arise

Technical writers create paper-based and digital operating instructions, how-to manuals, assembly instructions, and “frequently asked questions” pages to help technical support staff, consumers, and other users within a company or an industry. After a product is released, technical writers also may work with product liability specialists and customer-service managers to improve the end-user experience through product design changes.

Technical writers often work with computer hardware engineers, scientists, computer support specialists, and software developers to manage the flow of information among project workgroups during development and testing. Therefore, technical writers must be able to understand complex information and communicate the information to people with diverse professional backgrounds.

Applying their knowledge of the user of the product, technical writers may serve as part of a team conducting usability studies to help improve the design of a product that is in the prototype stage. Technical writers may conduct research on their topics through personal observation, library and Internet research, and discussions with technical specialists.

Technical writers are also responsible for managing the consistency of technical content and its use across business departments including product development, manufacturing, marketing, and customer relations.

Some technical writers help write grant proposals for research scientists and institutions.

Increasingly, technical information is being delivered online and through social media. Technical writers are using the interactive technologies of the Web and social media to blend text, graphics, multidimensional images, sound, and video.

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How To Become A Medical Writer

A college degree is usually required for a position as a technical writer. In addition, experience with a technical subject, such as computer science, Web design, or engineering, is important.

Education

Employers generally prefer candidates with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, English, or communications. Many technical writing jobs require both a degree and knowledge in a specialized field, such as engineering, computer science, or medicine. Web design experience also is helpful because of the growing use of online technical documentation.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Some technical writers begin their careers as specialists or research assistants in a technical field. They eventually develop technical communication skills and assume primary responsibilities for technical writing. In small firms, beginning technical writers may work on projects right away; in larger companies with more standard procedures, beginners may observe experienced technical writers and interact with specialists before being assigned projects.

Training

Many technical writers need short-term on-the-job training to adapt to a different style of writing.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Some associations, including the Society for Technical Communication, offer certification for technical writers. In addition, the American Medical Writers Association offers extensive continuing education programs and certificates in medical writing. These certificates are available to professionals in the medical and allied scientific communication fields.

Although not mandatory, certification can demonstrate competence and professionalism, making candidates more attractive to employers. It can also increase a technical writer’s opportunities for advancement.

Advancement

Prospects for advancement generally include working on more complex projects and leading or training junior staff. Some technical writers become self-employed and produce work on a freelance basis.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Technical writers must be able to take complex, technical information and translate it for colleagues and consumers who have nontechnical backgrounds.

Detail oriented. Technical writers create detailed instructions for others to follow. As a result, they must be detailed and precise at every step so that the instructions can be useful.

Imagination. Technical writers must be able to think about a procedure or product in the way a person without technical experience would think about it.

Teamwork. Technical writers must be able to work well with others. They are almost always part of a team: with other writers; with designers, editors, and illustrators; and with the technical people whose information they are explaining.

Technical skills. Technical writers must be able to understand highly complex information. Many technical writers need a background in engineering or computer science in order to do this.

Writing skills. Technical communicators must have excellent writing skills to be able to explain technical information clearly.

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Medical Writer Jobs

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Medical Writer Demographics

Gender

Female

63.6%

Male

34.3%

Unknown

2.1%
Ethnicity

White

61.3%

Hispanic or Latino

12.4%

Asian

11.3%

Black or African American

10.6%

Unknown

4.5%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

32.0%

French

22.0%

German

6.0%

Japanese

6.0%

Italian

6.0%

Hindi

4.0%

Russian

4.0%

Chinese

2.0%

Filipino

2.0%

Gujarati

2.0%

Marathi

2.0%

Hebrew

2.0%

Estonian

2.0%

Urdu

2.0%

Korean

2.0%

Mandarin

2.0%

Uzbek

2.0%
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Medical Writer Education

Schools

New York University

15.0%

Temple University

8.7%

Northeastern University

7.1%

University of the Sciences

6.3%

Columbia University

6.3%

University of Pennsylvania

6.3%

University of California - San Diego

5.5%

Johns Hopkins University

4.7%

Boston University

3.9%

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

3.9%

University of Georgia

3.9%

University of Connecticut

3.1%

University of Florida

3.1%

University of Washington

3.1%

Wake Forest University

3.1%

Harvard University

3.1%

Pennsylvania State University

3.1%

University of Pittsburgh -

3.1%

Case Western Reserve University

3.1%

University of Southern California

3.1%
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Majors

Medicine

10.0%

Biology

9.1%

Pharmacy

8.4%

Writing

6.9%

English

6.5%

Journalism

6.2%

Nursing

5.7%

Microbiology

5.0%

Biochemistry, Biophysics, Molecular Biology

5.0%

Pharmacology

4.8%

Public Health

4.5%

Physiology And Anatomy

4.3%

Business

4.1%

Health Care Administration

3.6%

Psychology

3.1%

Neuroscience

3.1%

Ecology, Population Biology, And Epidemiology

2.6%

Communication

2.4%

Public Relations

2.4%

Cell Biology And Anatomical Science

2.2%
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Degrees

Masters

33.5%

Doctorate

26.6%

Bachelors

20.4%

Other

12.5%

Certificate

5.1%

Associate

1.3%

Diploma

0.5%

License

0.2%
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Job type you want
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Temporary

Real Medical Writer Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Medical Writer Integrated Resources, Inc. Cambridge, MA Feb 03, 2016 $131,481
Medical Writer Integrated Resources, Inc. Cambridge, MA Sep 15, 2016 $131,481
Medical Writer Havas Health, Inc. New York, NY May 01, 2016 $120,000
Medical Writer Planet Pharma, LLC Woodcliff Lake, NJ Sep 26, 2016 $118,959
Medical Writer Planet Pharma, LLC Woodcliff Lake, NJ Sep 19, 2016 $118,959
Medical Writer Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Cambridge, MA Oct 03, 2011 $115,000
Medical Writer II-Clinical Green Key Temp LLC Parkersburg, IL Jan 09, 2016 $107,765
Medical Writer Ockham Development Group, Inc. Skillman, NJ Jan 11, 2010 $106,437
Medical Writer Bristol-Myers Squibb Company Hopewell, NJ Jan 01, 2013 $102,000
Medical Writer Havas Health, Inc. New York, NY Dec 30, 2013 $95,000
Medical Writer Health Interactions, Inc. San Francisco, CA Sep 15, 2016 $92,500
Medical Writer Novavax, Inc. Gaithersburg, MD Sep 18, 2015 $88,000
Medical Writer-Account Lead Envision Pharma, Inc. Southport, CT Aug 26, 2015 $86,570
Medical Writer Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated Cambridge, MA Aug 15, 2010 $79,000 -
$90,000
Medical Writer Envision Pharma, Inc. Philadelphia, PA Nov 25, 2009 $78,790
Medical Writer Envision Pharma, Inc. Southport, CT Mar 19, 2014 $78,750
Medical Writer UBC-Envision Group Southport, CT Mar 19, 2012 $75,000
Medical Writer Ogilvy Commonhealth Worldwide LLC Parsippany-Troy Hills, NJ Sep 27, 2011 $75,000
Medical Writer UBC-Envision Group Southport, CT Mar 12, 2012 $75,000
Medical Writer Ogilvy Commonhealth Worldwide LLC Parsippany-Troy Hills, NJ Sep 24, 2011 $75,000
Medical Writer PPD Development, LP Morrisville, NC Sep 19, 2010 $69,930
Medical Writer The Emmes Corporation Rockville, MD Apr 01, 2013 $69,622
Medical Writer The Emmes Corporation Rockville, MD Jan 04, 2013 $68,289
Medical Writer Comprehensive Healthcare Systems, Inc. Edison, NJ Jan 09, 2016 $67,780
Oncology Scientist/Medical Writer National Comprehensive Cancer Network, Inc. Fort Washington, PA Sep 20, 2011 $66,456 -
$76,686
Medical Writer, Feasibility Services PPD Development, LLC Morrisville, NC Sep 18, 2013 $66,123 -
$68,296
Medical Writer Integra Lifesciences Corporation Plainsboro, NJ Sep 15, 2016 $65,000

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Top Skills for A Medical Writer

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  1. Safety Narratives
  2. Oncology
  3. FDA
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Support the overall the Safety Narratives Process within Hematology/Oncology by authoring and reviewing narratives for assigned studies.
  • Provided on-site support at major hematology and oncology conferences.
  • Ensured scientific accuracy and fair balance of all podium presentations in compliance with FDA regulations and internal Legal and Regulatory departments.
  • Draft, review, and edit, patient narratives for final submission to clinical study report (CSR).
  • Prepared Standard Operating Procedures and Worldwide Standard Procedures for safety vigilance, surveillance, and health authority reporting processes.

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Top 10 Best States for Medical Writers

  1. Massachusetts
  2. Virginia
  3. Washington
  4. California
  5. District of Columbia
  6. North Carolina
  7. New Jersey
  8. Maryland
  9. Georgia
  10. Colorado
  • (163 jobs)
  • (362 jobs)
  • (114 jobs)
  • (718 jobs)
  • (105 jobs)
  • (129 jobs)
  • (104 jobs)
  • (208 jobs)
  • (117 jobs)
  • (107 jobs)

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