What Does a Health Science Writer Do?

What Does a Health Science Writer Do?A health science writer is either a journalist with an expertise in health care science or a health care researcher who earns money by writing for Web and print publications. There are two main ways to get into this profession, and because health science subjects are more advanced than subjects in other fields of journalism, both career paths involve post-graduate school. Most health science writers have experience doing research in university labs as well as experience writing for academic, local and national publications. A common career path for health science journalists to follow is to earn part of their income from freelance writing and the rest from other sources, such as research or staff writing positions.

Two Types of Health Science Writers

The more common and traditional type of journalist majors in communications in college and either minors or gets a second major in another subject. Health care science journalists may take electives or minor in a natural science, such as biology or chemistry, or they may enroll in a program specifically designed for their careers. During college, these writers get experience by applying for internships and writing for the university newspaper, local publications and academic research papers. It’s common, but not required, for them to pursue master’s degrees in a health science field, such as public health, exercise physiology, dentistry, nursing, pharmacology or another subject. For journalists who mainly want to earn money from freelance writing, a master’s degree isn’t necessary, but writers interested in research or staff writing positions will have a hard time competing for jobs without an advanced degree.

The more recent trend in this occupation is for graduate students studying science and pursuing careers in research to branch out into journalistic writing. This trend has developed as universities mainly hire researchers as adjunct or part-time professors, reserving tenure for only a few professors who teach courses. Many of the researchers working part-time in universities supplement their incomes by writing blog and magazine articles, and because they have the expertise to write about advanced subjects, they can naturally move into health science journalism. These writers typically continue working as part-time researchers while publishing science journalism articles.

Salary and Job Outlook

With all the education required to be a health science writer, these professionals have better job prospects than average for other occupations. Demand for technical writing jobs is expected to increase by 15 percent over the next ten years, compared to around 11 percent for most industries. The median annual income for technical writers was $65,500 in 2012, although science writers earned a slightly higher median income of $66,440. The highest-earning 10 percent made at least $101,660, and because this difference in earnings is mostly based on education level, most health science journalists can expect to earn more than average.

Writers coming from careers in research, especially, can expect higher incomes as they earn money from both research and journalism. With scientific credentials and post-graduate training, health science writers have very good career prospects. Companies will have a growing need for writers to communicate information about their products to customers as the healthcare industry becomes more consumer-led.

The path to becoming a health science writer is somewhat more challenging than other career paths, but the rewards are abundant for anyone interested in this subject. If you have a natural gift for science, consider a full- or part-time career in health care science journalism.

For additional information on pursuing a degree in health science, please see: Top 20 Most Affordable Health Science Degree Programs.