Job Description of a Science Writer

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a science writer. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about schooling, job duties and recommended skills to find out if this is the career for you.

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Science writers should have knowledge of their subject and be able to communicate it well to readers. They cover scientific occurrences and discoveries for journals, magazines, or other publications. A science writer may be affiliated or unaffiliated with the scientific area they cover.

Essential Information

Science writers combine an understanding of the sciences and an ability to write well. This interdisciplinary position involves analyzing scientific data and translating the information into writing that can easily be understood by readers. A bachelor's degree as well as a background in a scientific field is usually required.

Required Education Bachelor's degree in English, journalism, or communications recommended
Other Requirements Ability to analyze scientific data
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 2% for all writers and authors
Average Annual Salary (2015)* $69,130 for all writers and authors

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Science Writer Overview

Science writers are responsible for composing a variety of documents about physical, medical, chemical or biological sciences. Science writers can write for a variety of media, including periodicals, books, websites and newspapers. Readers of these publications can be experts or laypeople, so science writers are responsible for conveying information to a wide audience successfully.

Most science writers fall into one of two categories: science journalists and science public information officers. Science journalists are unaffiliated with the science about which they write. Science public information officers, on the other hand, are tied to the science about which they write, often preparing press releases about the work performed at their companies.

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Job Description of a Science Journalist

Science journalists write about scientific achievements or problems. They can work for a specific publication or on a freelance basis. Due to the nature of the audience, these science writers must communicate esoteric or difficult scientific concepts to both scientific professionals and the general public. Like other journalists, science journalists gather information from a variety of sources. They must be adept at understanding scientific processes and at interviewing scientists.

Science journalists must have a considerable background in both the sciences and in writing. Many choose to pursue a postgraduate degree in journalism with a concentration in scientific or technical writing. This education assists science journalists in understanding how to write for a variety of media.

Job Description of a Science Public Information Officer

These writers are connected to the science about which they write. Often they work at the same company or institution as the scientists performing the experiments or making the discoveries the science public information officers describe in their writing. Science public information officers are employed to make the work of their fellow company employees comprehensible to the public.

Although a journalism degree is not necessary, science public information officers also require a solid background in both writing and the science about which they write. Although they gain information and sources as the science journalist does, science public information officers must also convey an enthusiasm for the work they describe. They portray the sciences positively.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

In 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported an average annual salary of $69,130 for writers and authors in general. Jobs for these professionals were expected to grow only 2% from 2014-2024. Technical writers made an average salary of $73,350. This field is expected to grow by 10% during the same time frame.

Writers in this discipline may either be science journalists or science public information officers—the former being experts or novices who simply write about the subject, and the latter being connected to the science they write about. Both jobs require writing skills and an educational background in science and English, journalism, or related major.

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