Got a knack for neutrons?
A penchant for paleontology?
Then it’s time to take a look at science writing jobs.
Considering many scientific journalists are also working professionals (or have some degree of experience within the scientific field) the scientific writer salary is on the higher end of the pay spectrum.
As a working professional and budding freelance writer, you might not realize how much science writer jobs actually make.
Major, well known publications and companies are always looking to hire subject matter experts to help distill down high level academic reports into articles that the general public will understand.
But there is so much more to science writing than just relaying data.
And as a budding freelance writer, niching down to something like science writing jobs not only will help you stand out in that niche, but it will also make it easier to land work since once you find that first writing job you can ask for referrals.
So if you are ready to take your freelance writing career (or professional scientific career) to the next level, then let’s dive into what a science writer does and how you can land those highly sought after gigs.
What Does a Science Writer Do?
Freelance science writing jobs can cover a wide range of topics and platforms.
As a science writer, sometimes known as a scientific journalist, you need top research skills and be able to write and edit scientific articles and news for both professional and everyday publications.
Science writers not only need to be adept at understanding complex scientific concepts, they also need to be able to break those concepts down into layman’s terms for the general public to understand.
Scientific writers can also cross over with technical writing if they are in the academic field. They can also lean more towards journalism and report on news sites and press releases.
It’s also recommended you have a degree in the sciences as this will help you with writing your articles and make you look more experienced than a typical freelance writer.
How Much Does a Science Job Pay?
If you haven’t figured it out already, the more niche and in demand the topic you write about, the more you can make from your writing.
According to Zippia, the average salary of a scientific writer in the United States is around $120,000!
Top companies from Pfizer to Merck hire scientific writers. From writing about the latest health crisis in breaking news to informed consent documents for clinical trials, there is no shortage of interesting and well paying science writer jobs.
A scientific writer salary can vary based on if the position is remote or at a specific location, the size of the company hiring, and hiring prerequisites such as necessary education and experience level.
Some of these higher paying positions require many years of experience in the medical or science field and even graduate degrees.
How to Become a Science Writer
There are many ways to become a scientific journalist. Often, those that have been in the science field go into writing about their expertise.
Think Phds and high level academics.
As mentioned previously, many science writers have some type of science degree and experience in the field. There is also the possibility that those in the science fields can take further coursework in journalism in order to relay complex scientific information into something that the general public would understand in a way they find interesting.
If you have been in the academic or scientific field for some time and are looking for a change, then consider scientific writing jobs.
If you are serious about becoming a scientific writer, then consider joining the National Association of Science Writers. They offer a wealth of resources from interest based discussion groups to helpful resources for freelancers.
List of Scientific Writing Jobs
Freelance science writing jobs can vary from physics to psychology. There are so many different niches that can fall into the science writer category that often overlap with other categories, it’s crazy!
Here are just a few niches in the sciences field.
Bioanalytics involves measuring drugs and their metabolites and biotics in biological systems. It’s a sub-discipline of analytical chemistry that takes into account biological molecules in unnatural locations as well as proteins, DNA, and large molecule drugs.
You may may writing jobs in this field through clinical trial laboratory services, which are facilities that research the effects of medical, surgical, or behavioral intervention.
Psychology is often referred to as the “science of the mind” and strives to understand the mind as well as behavior. It includes the study of the conscious and unconscious mind as well as thoughts and feelings.
Worth Checking Out: Folk Rebellion
Biology is a field of science that looks at studying life, from the biology of a cell to the anatomy of plants to the evolution of population. It is a natural science with a broad scope.
Because it has such a broad scope, where you find a biology science writing job really depends on your field of expertise.
Worth Checking Out: New Scientist
Environmental science is a field of study that looks at physical, biological, and information sciences in order to study the environment and find solutions to environmental problems.
Because climate change and other environmentally-related issues seem to be at the forefront of modern media, you can find writing work through journalism, copy writing, technical writing, and many other forms of content.
Worth Checking Out: AJ Magazine
5. Insects and Bees
The study of insects and bees is known as entomology, which is a branch of zoology. This field of study includes genetics, taxonomy, morphology, physiology, behavior, and ecology.
With more and more people coming to understand the importance of insects to our ecosystem, especially bees, there are many online opportunities to find writing jobs in this field.
Worth Checking Out: Bee Culture
6. Health science
This field of applied science deals with human and animal health in two parts: the study and research of health and its application when it comes to improve health and cure diseases.
Health science writers are usually journalists who make money by writing for web and print publications. This can include forms of writing such as technical writing and anecdotal content.
Physics is a branch of science that studies the motion and behavior of matter through space and time by looking at energy and force. The focus of physics is to understand how the universe works.
Paid writing jobs in physics include technical writing as well as creating content based on research or theories.
Worth Checking Out: Discover Magazine
When it comes to the cause and effects of diseases and injury, the science of pathology is used to study diseases by incorporating biological research and medical practices.
This type of science can include anything from pharmaceuticals to cancer treatments.
Worth Checking Out: Everyday Health
Paleontology is the study of ancient life, from prehistoric animals and plants to modern fungi and microbes.
It also includes the study of fossils in order to classify organisms and study their interactions with each other and their environments.
Worth Checking Out: Smithsonian
10. Medical Research
Medical research is a broad field that involves fundamental scientific principles and applies them to clinical research when it comes to new medicines, treatments, etc.
Worth Checking Out: Science Mag
Sustainability science focuses on a broad-based approach to bring together natural and social sciences, engineering, and medicine and recently emerged as a new academic discipline.
Worth Checking Out: Earth Island Journal
Forensic science involves the application of science to criminal and civil laws to aid during investigations by gathering and processing evidence.
This can include anything from blood analysis in criminal cases to forensic accounting to investigate fraud and scams.
DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) is a molecule that contains the necessary information to build and maintain an organism. All living things have DNA and a portion of it is passed along to offspring.
Worth Checking Out: Oxford Academic
Ecology is the scientific study of the relationship between living organisms and their physical environment. This field focuses on organisms at the individual, population, and biosphere levels.
Worth Checking Out: Humanosphere
Geology studies the Earth’s physical structure and substances. This includes the history of rocks and how we can use the world’s resources in the most economical way.
Worth Checking Out: Hakai Magazine
Chemistry is a field of science that studies the properties and behavior of matter by looking at the compounds composed of atoms, molecules, and ions and their structures, properties, and behaviors.
Worth Checking Out: inChemistry
Scientific writers can also go by many names, which include but are not limited to scientific journalist, scientific research/research writer, data and policy analyst writer, research analyst, and even script writers for science shows and YouTube channels.
Examples of Science Writing
There is a lot more to science based writing than just breaking down boring research terms into something that everyday people will understand.
To help you better understand the various types of writing gigs available for science writers, here are 10 examples:
- Press releases: Press releases are a short summary of research and journalists often use them when deciding to write a news article on recent scientific research.
- Books/manuals/pamphlets: Scientific books, manuals, and pamphlets are usually written to describe and interpret research published in journal articles to large populations of individuals.
- Reports and white papers: Reports produced by researchers and government agencies can provide vital information to scientists as well as the general population. These reports are usually found in scholarly databases and on the internet.
- Newsletters and email newsletters: Many scientific sites and blogs keep their readers informed on current news and research by sending out newsletters and email newsletters.
- Case studies: This form of content are typically used to test hypotheses as well as provide insight and information to sell a product or service.
- Science news articles: You can write video scripts for website introductions, how-to videos or instructional/training videos for the scientific community.
- Video scripts: Blog posts are a versatile and personal medium for science writing that can address scientific information on a professional level or translate it into terms that lay-people can understand.
- Blog posts: There are many publications out there that publish science new articles. These articles often refer to a recent study published as a primary research article.
- Academic journals: Academic journals contain articles that focus on scientific research and are intended for an academic or technical audience, not general readers. As long as you have experience in the research field, you can write the articles without being involved in the research.
- Contracts and scientific documents: These can include research contracts as well as agreements between companies and clinics.
Where to Find Scientific Writing Gigs
Other than just searching through Indeed for science writer jobs, check out these paying markets for science writers:
Discover magazine is a very well known science magazine that covers everything from scientific breakthroughs to technology and space travel. It is also among one of the highest paying scientific writing jobs for print at around $1 per word and about $300 per web story.
The editors at Discover magazine are always on the lookout for enlightening and informative articles that will get their readers excited about science.
Their motto is “science is for everyone,” and appreciate writing that is conversational in tone that also offers topics grounded in research.
If you are interested in pitching them, be sure to thoroughly read through their pitching guidelines first.
New Scientist is constantly on the lookout for new and intriguing science and technology pieces that will both entertain and inform their audience. Their audience ranges from physicists to those with no scientific background at all.
Their stories are timely and up to date and extremely time sensitive.
While they don’t reveal what they pay their freelancers, it’s based on the piece and agreed upon by that editorial manager.
Earth Island Journal
An international magazine with a focus on environmental concerns, Earth Island Journal looks for compelling and distinctive stories. If you are a writer that is always looking towards the future and what the next big threat to the environment might be, then you should consider pitching here.
They purposely look to focus on stories that are likely overlooked by other scientific publications. They focus on a wide range of environmental issues, such as climate, energy, wildlife conservation, public policy, animal rights, public health, as well as film, books, and music that is environmentally related.
They pay about $0.25 per word for print articles and about $100 for online reports. If you are new to writing for these types of publications, it is a bit easier to get into web publications.
A\J: Alternatives Journal
The Alternatives Journal is the “voice of Canada’s Environment.” They focus on a variety of environmental issues with a delicate balance of an academic journal and general interest magazine.
They look for both feature articles of 1,000 to 4,000 words in length to smaller, less analytical reports ranging from 500 to 1,200 words. They follow a strict style guideline and rigorous fact checking.
While writing for A\J will look great on a freelance resume, their pay is a little lower at $0.10 per word.
Are you a science buff with a social warrior heart? Humanosphere believes that the best stories can come from the most unlikely of places. They are on the search for writers who have great research skills but also are able to stand their ground. Humanosphere loves stories that focus on the environment, education, and gender equality.
They don’t shy away from funny, provocative, or even snarky humor. Pieces can range anywhere between 500 to 2,500 words and payment is based on the assignment.
Popular Science has been around since the late 1800’s. Nope, that isn’t a typo. They cover everything from emerging technologies, automobiles, photography, and space, just to name a few.
Their goal is to provide readers with information on how certain technologies work and how those technologies directly benefit the reader. They look for stories that have strong storytelling, humor, human interest, and anecdotes. Pay for each piece is agreed upon per submission.
From genetics to geology, Science covers a wide range of science topics as well as policy. It also covers issues that are of importance to the scientific community, such as technology, engineering, and even sexual harassment. They strive to include quotes from women and individuals of color within their news briefs, trend stories, features, and news analysis articles.
While the rate of pay depends on experience level, most pieces pay per word.
The submission process for the Smithsonain is pretty straightforward. There is an easy to fill out form that gets sent directly to the magazine’s editors. While they are sure to get a large volume of submissions, this would be a great publication to add to your resume.
You can choose to send a submission to the following sections: history, science, arts, travel, and innovation.
There You Go!
At this point you should hopefully have a better understanding of what it takes to get a science writer job. Whether you are already a full time freelancer or professional looking to expand your income and professional standing through writing.