A medical technical writer specializes in writing and editing documents on medical and health topics. Medical writers find publications in journal articles and books, or they write grant proposals for research or documentation for the medical community or pharmaceutical corporations.
Bachelor's degree programs in technical communications train students to comprehend complex processes and explain them to a non-professional audience. Master's programs are aimed at students with a bachelor's degree but no experience in medical writing and cover basically the same topics as a bachelor's program. Master's programs require about two years of study and a thesis is written.
Most master's degree programs in science and medical communication require students to have completed a B.A. or B.S. in a related field, such as English, journalism, biology or communications. Many schools also require GRE scores and a certain GPA. Programs are available online.
Bachelor Degrees in Technical or Scientific Communications
A student interested in becoming a medical writer can pursue a bachelor's degree in technical communication. Most four-year bachelor's degree programs require a high school diploma or GED. Students learn skills to effectively communicate complicated ideas in subjects such as computer science, medical science, or advanced mathematics, to a less technical or lay audience in a clear and concise way.
Most bachelor's programs in technical communications require students to take a standard core of classes in humanities and writing. Most of these programs provide an option of a concentration or track for students interested in focusing on science and medical writing. Courses include:
- Journalism and communications
- Medical ethics
- Introduction to scientific rhetoric
- Introduction to document design
Master's Degrees in Science and Medical Communication
Students in a master's degree program in science and medical communication learn concepts of good writing and effective communication necessary to become a medical technical writer. For applicants with little or no previous science experience, many programs include electives in medical sciences. Students are encouraged to participate in an internship during or immediately following the master's program in order to gain practical experience and improve their portfolio.
Students can expect to take several courses in medical and natural science in addition to core courses in writing and journalism. Some courses include:
- Marketing communications
- Human anatomy and physiology
- Public health and communications
- Introduction to statistics
- Biomedical reporting
Popular Career Options
Students who complete a bachelor's degree in technical writing with an emphasis on science or health communication can find work in several areas of the medical industry, such as medical journals, textbook publishers and the pharmaceutical industry. Several popular career choices include:
- Freelance medical writer
- Medical journalist
- Pharmaceutical marketing
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job outlook for technical writers is expected to increase by 10% from 2014 to 2024. Advances in medical technology and research will require more people to communicate findings to the medical community and general public. In May 2015, all technical writers made a median annual salary of $70,240, according to the BLS.
A medical technical writing degree can lead to careers such as freelance medical writer or medical journalist. Coursework for these programs may include medical science and communications.