How to Become a Medical Copywriter

How-To-Become-a-Medical-CopywriterThe medical communication field is well established and growing rapidly. From regulatory writing to medical copywriting, many paths, employers, and projects await newcomers to the profession. Whether you're a new graduate, a veteran marketing writer, or even a scientist interested in expanding your skill set, medical copywriting could be a lucrative niche.

So, what exactly do medical copywriters do? And where do they work? The fact is that medical copywriters can be involved in a diverse array of projects, and their paths may take them to a variety of employers or freelance clients.

What Is a Copywriter?

Copywriting falls under the broader category of promotional writing or marketing writing. In this setting, medical communicators craft a variety of documents and Web materials to promote specific interventions, drugs, medical devices, or even medical institutions. Some medical copywriters also write press releases, informational materials, or promotional communications for health care organizations or corporations. 

Copywriting is a results‑driven type of communication. Whether you're a copywriter for a pharmaceutical company or a medical university, you create content with a specific goal in mind. Sometimes the goal is to sell a product, but that's not always the case. Some medical copywriters create content intended to educate or empower, or to convince consumers to take action, such as to get a yearly mammogram or to stop smoking. Some medical copywriters also write documents meant to inspire readers to join an organization as a member or donor.

Who Can Be a Medical Copywriter?

Anyone interested in becoming a medical writer can become a medical copywriter. Medical writers hail from a variety of educational and professional backgrounds. Maybe you're an academic scientist ready for a career change. Perhaps you're a graduate student interested in a career with flexible hours or paths to advancement. Maybe you're a marketing professional with a scientific background or an interest in health and medicine.

While a professional background or credentials are helpful, anyone with a deep interest in science and a commitment to results‑driven writing can be a medical copywriter.

What Does It Take to Be a Medical Copywriter?

All medical copywriters need to have an interest in and a flair for science, writing, and general marketing. It helps to have a clear understanding of basic medical concepts and marketing terminology (such as sales funnel, buyer personas, and ROI — return on investment).

Although it's not required, many medical communicators hold an advanced degree. Some have a medical or science degree (eg, PhD, PharmD, MD) or experience in academic settings or as bench scientists, pharmacists, physicians, or other health care professionals. Others have an MFA or a PhD in communications or English. Because copywriting skews toward business‑oriented communication, medical copywriters could also have an advanced degree in business or marketing. 

Where Do Medical Copywriters Work?

Medical copywriters work in a wide variety of settings. If you become a medical copywriter, you could work at pharma, biotech, or medical device companies. You could also work as a copywriter at a medical communications marketing agency. 

Here are just a few types of employers that hire medical copywriters:

Of course, many medical copywriters are independent contractors (or freelancers). These writers work from a home office, co‑working space, or accept short‑term contracts to work onsite at various companies. 

How Can I Get Started as a Medical Copywriter?

Launching a new career can be overwhelming. Whether you're an experienced copywriter with an interest in science or a scientist with an interest in copywriting, your challenge is to take the first step.

Your path will vary depending on your professional and educational background. If you already have experience in the medical communication field, you might begin by pursuing the Medical Writer Certified (MWC®) credential. If you're just starting in the medical writing field, your first step could be exploring the Essential Skills certificate program

Regardless of the path you take to becoming a medical copywriter, commit to beginning the process with confidence and a willingness to learn.

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January 4, 2021 at 8:00 AM

American Medical Writers Association

AMWA is the leading resource for medical communicators. The AMWA Blog is developed in partnership with community members who work every day to create clear communications that lead to better health and well-being.