what does a medical writer do?

  • job profiles
  • September 10, 2020

Medical writers are modern-day scribes in the pharmaceutical and life sciences industries. They have a key role to play in communicating critical scientific information across important channels and influencing diverse stakeholders. That means they have to be malleable, too, and capable of welding their pens to engage with a wide range of different audiences. This is also a role that you can usually carry out remotely, which is a key consideration in light of COVID-19 restrictions.

What are the core responsibilities of medical writers on a day-to-day basis? Here are some of the major ones:

  • carrying out research and leveraging the most valid, relevant and up-to-date resources and source materials
  • supporting and reporting on clinical research, clinical studies and clinical trials for pharmaceutical companies and others in the life sciences space
  • developing scientifically accurate, strategically aligned content
  • submitting outlines of copy early in the writing process to solicit input from managers and subject matter experts (SMEs)
  • annotating all written submissions in accordance with brand style guidelines
  • ensuring the factual accuracy of text in all applicable assets
  • proofreading or copyediting other written materials
  • leveraging scientific and medical knowledge to support multiple other projects, as needed

what other names do medical writers go by?

Medical writers are sometimes referred to by a host of different names on today’s job boards. These titles include:

  • medical editors
  • freelance medical editors
  • senior medical writers
  • technical writers
  • regulatory editors

So if you aren’t seeing what you’re looking for when browsing for jobs, it’s a good idea to sprinkle in some of these terms, as well.

how do you become a medical writer?

An advanced degree is sometimes required, but other than that there are relatively few barriers to entry if you’re looking to break into the exciting field of medical writing. The following requirements are typical, for example:

  • excellent writing skills, especially the ability to translate technical and medical information into accurate and engaging copy
  • strong verbal, communication and presentation skills (not always required)
  • research expertise, particularly with primary medical source materials
  • attentiveness to detail
  • analytical-thinking skills
  • demonstrated ability to meet deadlines and deliver under pressure
  • baseline familiarity with science and medicine
  • time management and organizational skills

Of course, training and certification can certainly help you stand out as a candidate — and there are a host of resources now available to you online. Be sure to check out the top medical writing courses on Udemy, our learning partner, if you need any help getting started.

what are the key skills of a medical writer?

Medical writers are an indispensable part of the new drug development and approval processes for pharmaceutical and life sciences companies today. As such, they seem to be perpetually in high demand — yet that also means you’re going to have a lot of competition if you want to break into this field.

A few key skills to highlight on your resume to help you stand out from all of the other candidates:

  • relationship-building skills
  • design and digital layout capabilities
  • proficiency with technology and analytics
  • expertise using Microsoft Office, enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems and other technology platforms
  • time management and organizational aptitude
  • proven ability to multitask
  • quality- and safety-oriented

how much does a medical writer make?

From a salary standpoint, medical writers will find a lot of variation on the job market today. Looking at the latest data, for example, average salaries for these writing wizards can be grouped into three tiers — low, middle and high — depending on your location, market and level of previous experience.

Those tiers are as follows:

  • low $76,275
  • mid $117,972
  • high $148,482

That’s a pretty significant range! So if you’d prefer more granular data, take advantage of Randstad’s salary comparison tool. That way, you’ll be able to see in-depth data about pay rates for medical writers across different geographic locations, industries and sectors.

key takeaways

For all of the reasons we’ve touched on and more, qualified medical writers rank among the most highly in-demand cohort of life sciences professionals right now. In this article, we’ve also broken down:

  • what medical writers do
  • background, training, experience and other requirements for this position
  • key skills
  • salary
  • plus, a whole lot more

And if you’re ready to land your next great role in this booming field, you can start by searching for medical writer jobs today with Randstad.