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Are you interested in science writing jobs?
You’ve come to the right place.
I wrote this guide to teach you how to become a science writer. I’ll also define science writing, explain its job requirements, and discuss the careers you can have in this field.
Science writing talks about developments in technology, engineering, medicine, and other scientific fields.
Scientific writing involves describing discoveries and commercial developments.
Science writers don’t necessarily have to be scientists themselves, even though having a science degree helps.
Traditional science journalism involves reporting news and other information to the public.
Science journalists report breaking news or follow science stories that sometimes take years to develop.
In science journalism, writers often create entertaining summaries for the general public. They also consult experts to convey information better.
A science writer in public communications (or public relations) often writes press releases or updates. Unlike a scientific journalist, a public communications writer works closer to the source.
Many science writers give updates on scientific research when writing press releases. They also work with many groups, including national associations, research institutions, government agencies, universities, and other institutions.
Many technical writers work as science communicators. They often work closely with industry experts and lead scientists.
Public communication science writers publish pieces for the general public. Meanwhile, technical science writers publish content for other technical or scientific experts.
Technical writing work has a higher level of difficulty than other science writing jobs because they have to simplify technical explanations.
Technical scientific writers often perform the following tasks.
- Conduct scientific research.
- Record scientific breakthroughs and other complex scientific information.
- Present technical and scientific data in an easy-to-understand way.
Scientific writing editors ensure the quality of scientific writing. They edit writing work, fact-check with research institutions, and publish.
They publish works for science magazines, weekly science sections, press releases, and other publications.
An editor is also essential in government science communications because they fact-check science writing work.
Some professionals with a career in science writing often start with on-the-job training, while others begin with internship opportunities.
Meanwhile, graduate students look to research institutes or universities for writing opportunities.
Follow these steps to start your science writing career.
Start your science writing career path by getting a degree in engineering, biology, chemistry, or anything science-related.
Science and academia are closely tied, meaning it can be challenging to land jobs in this industry without formal education in a scientific field.
A university usually has its circle of scientists—learning from them is an excellent way to start your career in science writing.
Attend conferences to learn from the best and build relationships.
Get familiar with the scientific field and interview experts (like other science writers) by asking them tough questions. The information you gather will help move your career forward.
The science communication community has many experts in various fields who will be more than willing to share their knowledge with you. All you have to do is look for them.
Start writing your own blog even if you’re still in university—many freelance writers and grad students in science have blogs.
Your blog should cover different personalities, studies, and stories in the science world. It’s an excellent way for people in science to notice your skills as a freelance writer.
Whether you’re still in graduate school or already a full-time freelancer, a high-quality science blog does wonders for your portfolio and gives you credibility.
A blog can showcase your knowledge on specific topics. It can be a general science blog or a blog focusing on a particular science-related topic.
The good thing about getting a degree is that you can work closely with experts and gain access to university internships that can boost your science career.
As a student member, you can join a science communication group like the National Association of Scientific Writers (NASW). This organization offers amazing internships to student members.
Internships aren’t the only thing the NASW offers. You also gain access to scientific papers, leads to jobs in the science field, discounts on tools and software, and more when you join the NASW.
Here are five skills you need to become a good science writer.
(Note: You can acquire these skills through internships, expert advice, courses, and practice.)
You need good communication skills to become a good writer in the science field.
Your writing must be accurate and easily understandable to your audience.
In scientific journalism, you’ll have to make complex topics understandable to the majority.
Hone your writing style and improve your communication skills to get lucrative science writing jobs.
Science writing is a complex field that requires a high level of logic.
Logical thinking involves analyzing a problem and finding solutions.
You’ll have to give an unbiased representation of data and report on harsh topics like climate change.
Without logical thinking, you’ll write poor-quality articles that scientists won’t receive well, affecting your reputation.
Research is fundamental in science. You must stick to proven facts and not gossip.
All careers in science writing require intensive research skills and a deep understanding of specific topics.
Scientists can easily debunk your articles or claims when you write without research. You may lose credibility and struggle to get writing jobs if you write poorly researched scientific articles.
Scientific topics are undoubtedly complex. Therefore, you need supreme focus when writing articles, journals, and press releases.
Science writing is a challenging field.
Pursue a career in science writing only if you enjoy writing and are passionate about science.
Persistence will help you sharpen your craft, learn from the best science communication experts, and land a stable position in science writing.
Scientific American writers can earn an average of $57,771 annually, similar to technical writers.
Salaries vary depending on where scientific writers work.
For example, technical science writers in Seattle, Washington, have an average annual income of $79,780.
Technical science writers in Durham, North Carolina, earn an average of $50,333 annually.
Scientific writers’ earnings also depend on their roles, fields, and companies.
A writer for a high-end tech company may earn more than a climate-change writer.
In addition to salaries, many companies offer benefits to scientific writers.
- 401(k) with matching
- Health insurance
- Dental insurance
- Vision insurance
- Life and disability insurance
- Commuter assistance
- Paid time off
- Health savings account
- Access to a referral program
Here are 13 popular positions you can fill as a science writer.
Some websites focus solely on scientific content. To work for these websites, you must be knowledgeable in science writing.
Bloggers often write about various topics. Some articles focus on scientific findings, while others discuss specific scientific issues.
You usually have the option to become a freelance or full-time science blogger.
The average annual salary for a blogger is $34,142.
Some scientists make audio recordings of their ideas or breakthroughs to avoid spoiling their thought processes.
Enter: scientific transcriptionists.
Transcriptionists can also transcribe for medical documentation or recordkeeping information. They can also work on video content translating non-verbal gestures to provide a complete report on a specific situation.
The average annual salary for a transcriptionist is $38,381.
A research assistant supports senior researchers.
Research assistants help gather data by researching, drafting reports, writing research logs, and analyzing data. They also handle paperwork within the lab or office.
As a research assistant, you’ll work closely with scientists and learn from them.
The average annual salary for a research assistant is $40,473.
As a reporter, you must accurately report scientific facts and ensure your information comes from legitimate sources.
Having experience as a technical writer also helps you digest information faster as a reporter.
Since this is a form of scientific journalism, you have to simplify complex reports for a wider audience.
The average annual salary for a reporter is $43,035.
A copy editor reviews writers’ works to ensure correct grammar, spelling, formatting, and accurate information.
However, a scientific copy editor’s main job is to fact-check.
Scientific writers should never publish false information. Your job as a copy editor is to clarify all the information in your writers’ works.
The average annual salary for a copy editor is $43,675.
A scientific writer writes for either entertainment or education.
You research a topic, write about it, and present information in a way that entertains your audience.
Many companies need scientific writers.
Scientific organizations and companies need scientific writers to write blogs, press releases, proposals, updates, summaries, and more.
You need to be versatile to become a general scientific writer.
The average annual salary for a science writer is $49,369.
A laboratory technician works just like a research assistant but in a more technical sense. A lab technician assists other professionals within the lab with projects and experiments that rely heavily on documentation.
Some laboratories hire technicians for the sole purpose of documentation.
The scope of work can also include analysis and interpretation of results, data entry and tracking, and lab equipment maintenance.
The average annual salary for a laboratory technician is $51,618.
Grant writers draft research proposals asking for funding.
This role is essential to science because some researchers or projects rely solely on sponsors.
A grant writer ensures accurate and attractive data presentation to secure funding.
Scientists need grant writers to improve their chances of getting funding for research and other scientific projects.
The average annual salary for a grant writer is $53,097.
A technical writer translates technical concepts, making them easy to understand for the general public.
To become a technical writer, you must be knowledgeable in your field to understand complex concepts and break them down into easily digestible information for non-technical readers.
Summarizing highly technical content can be challenging, so scientists often hire a technical writer to explain their project or research to a broader audience.
The average annual salary for a technical writer is $57,941.
A communications manager in a highly-technical field needs scientific writing skills. The position involves overseeing all internal and external communications.
As a communications manager, understanding the type of content the company releases is crucial.
The national average salary for a communications manager is $62,374.
Ecologists record animal and plant interactions and perform scientific research on wildlife behavior in different environments.
As an ecologist, you must document your research and record massive amounts of data. You also regularly write reports of your findings for public education or scientific journals.
The average annual salary for an ecologist is $79,027.
Scientists have specific fields of knowledge that help them write.
Being a scientist is more than discovering, proving, or researching. You must also record, document, and share your findings and interpretations.
Some scientific writers are scientists because they follow particular scientific and research methods. However, it still depends on their job scope and methodologies.
The average annual salary for a scientist is $86,937.
Psychologists must describe and interpret their findings accurately when doing research or reports.
A psychologist must also be skilled in writing since there’s plenty at stake when writing about psychology.
The average annual salary for a psychologist is $95,193.
Many opportunities open for you if you choose a career in science writing.
I hope my article has shed light on how you can become a successful writer and whether or not it’s the right career for you.
Visit my blog for more writing tips.