How to become a medical copywriter (an ideal career for health profs) (2023)

LAST UPDATED | FIRST PUBLISHED | BY Michelle Guillemard

There are many reasons why you may be thinking about becoming a medical copywriter. In fact, copywriting is an ideal choice for physicians and health professionals who love writing and want to do something different.

You could be:

  • an academic scientist ready for a career change
  • a general copywriter looking to specialise in health and medicine
  • someone already working in the health industry
  • a health professional who’s keen to put your hard-earned medical know-how to good use.

You’d like to learn more about what medical copywriting entails so you can work out whether it’s a suitable career choice for you.

And, importantly, you need to feel confident there’s long-term potential in this field.

I’m a scientist or a health professional. Doesn’t medical copywriting = sales and profit? That’s not what I’m about.

Some people tell me they are concerned about working as a copywriter because they don’t want to be perceived as, well, a sleazy salesperson.

Others assume writing product copy for pharmaceutical companies is the only option in this field.

While it’s true there’s a lot of copywriting work in writing for profit-generating multinationals,there are many medical and healthcare brands and businesses who need copywriters – far beyond companies that sell medicines.

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Plus, a good copywriter knows the difference between authenticity and immoral sales, and a great copywriter knows how to get people interested in a service or brand without being phoney.

These days, if brands and businesses want to resonate with their audience, they need to be helpful, provide value, and have the customer’s best interests at heart – regardless of whether they’re one of Big Pharma, Big Organic, or Big Gynaecologist. And, being the positive force in a large organisation is an excellent way to instigate change from the inside out.

How do I know if becoming a medical copywriter is right for me?

You hate the notion of selling something. You can’t stand blatant advertising. You despise being marketed to. So, how can you justify getting paid to market products and services to others?

Is copywriting really for you?

Before you say no, remember that medical copywriting is not JUST about selling products.

You don’t have to be an abstract creative who spends your days working on complicated advertising concepts, either.

If you’re keen to learn how to write creatively to achieve outcomes and are a results-driven writer who thrives on creating exciting offers that help to change lives, then medical copywriting is for you.

Copywriting is about achieving an end goal – that goal may be a sale, but it could also be education, empowerment or social change. Find clients and employers with end goals that align with your philosophies.

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Here are just some of many other scenarios where you can put your medical copywriting skills to good use:

  • Website copywriting for health professionals
  • Blogging for health organisations, not-for-profits and charities
  • Social media and strategy for hospitals and public health campaigns
  • Brochure writing for medical practices

Okay, sounds good. But what does the career path look like for a medical copywriter?

You don’t just want to learn how to become a medical copywriter – you want to feel confident there is career longevity in this industry.

If you’re looking to make a career shift, chances are you’re in for the long haul – not just a year or two.

Sure, you could plan to be a copywriter for the nextdecade – but, like any job, copywriting has the potential to become downright annoying if you do too much of it.

There’s also the very real risk of burnout and boredom.

Even (especially) when you run your own business.

You need to be forward thinking and consider how you’re going to grow and develop in this industry – not just get the job at hand done.

Anyone who’s taken my freelance medical writing course or read my blogsknows I’m a big fan of goals. I believe goals give you direction and a sense of purpose.

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Having a five or ten-year plan when you’re starting out could be the difference between sticking with medical copywriting or giving up after just a year or two.

So, what are the options beyond doing the same old, same old?

Is there long-term potential in a medical copywriting career?

The short answer is yes. Like anything, you’ll start your medical copywriting career as a beginner, and you’ll probably focus on developing your skills by getting as much practical work as you can for a few years. That is a huge challenge in itself!

By then, you’ll have worked out where your interests and talents lie – and you can continue to forge your journey, your way.

Here are just some of the pathways you can follow to become a medical copywriter.

Become a senior writer

You can develop your writing skills to become a more senior writer in a healthcare company – or, you can continue to increase your freelance rates through the value offered in your experienced services.

Develop expertise in a particular style of copywriting

Long-form sales copywriting, medical SEO copywriting, brand storytelling, conversion, lead generation, blogging, patient education – you may be able to niche your copywriting services if you shift your focus to one distinct area.

Expand your scope beyond medical copywriting

Learn new technical skills so you can offer allied services such as web design, graphic design, content management, video and audio editing, medical editing, online marketing, and more.

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Become a medical content strategist, editor or manager

If you prefer consulting and strategy, you can aspire to become a content strategist, editor, or manager – and, in these roles, you’d be making creative, strategic decisions as opposed to writing all of the content.

Hire staff or collaborate with other medical copywriters

Being a freelancer, as your reputation and confidence grow, you can take on bigger projects and get other writers to work for or with you. Your role may be not to write everything but to hire subcontractors who write – and then you would check or edit their work.

Grow a complete medical communications business

You could aspire to build a full-service business, where you’d hire other writers as well as related contractors like web designers, graphic designers – and offer complete content services for medical brands and businesses.

Become a medical copywriter consultant

You can provide consulting services for copywriting and marketing projects, websites, apps and digital health initiatives– so, again, you’d be working in more of a strategic advisor role rather than completing all of the writing.

Become a trainer

When you feel you have learned enough to share your knowledge with others confidently, you could become a teacher or educator on a niche topic.

Start a new project

If your copywriting career is going well, you may want to put energy into a new project, like a niche health website, a health podcast, an allied product or service, or an entirely new business venture you can run in parallel.

Remember: Thinking long-term is about staying relevant

If you’re considering a long-term career as a medical copywriter, it’s so important to stay up-to-date with the industry – considering both digital health communications AND copywriting.

A decade ago, most of the writing styles copywriters specialise in today in didn’t even exist.

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Blogs, email newsletters, social media posts, iPad detailers – they all emerged in the past five to ten years.

So, keeping up with the latest technologies and trends is crucial. If you can do this, while thinking ahead about where you want to go, you’ll be putting yourself in the best position to grow your medical copywriting career.

Where can I learn more about becoming a medical copywriter, and how can I get started?

Health Writer Hub offers an accredited medical copywriting course, so check it out and put your name on the wait list for the next class.

FAQs

What is a health copywriter? ›

What is a Medical Copywriter? A Medical Copywriter is essentially a hybrid of a Medical Writer and a Creative Copywriter. I'm able to deep dive into the heavy science behind a medicine, understand it, and rewrite about it in a more creative way that consumers can understand and relate to.

What skills do medical writers need? ›

Skills required by a medical writer include:
  • Excellent knowledge of the English language.
  • Faultless communication skills, both written and verbal.
  • Attention to detail.
  • Analytical skills and able to interpret data.
  • Organisation and patience.
  • The ability to work well within a team.

Why do I want to be a medical writer? ›

The industry is diverse and interesting and offers great opportunities for those with a medical background and the ability to write good copy. There are also excellent opportunities for progression within the field, particularly if you can get noticed for your high-quality work and ability to deliver on time.

What is the career path for a copywriter? ›

Copywriters usually work within a marketing/advertising department of an agency or a company, or as a freelancer. If you wish to become a copywriter, you can expect your day-to-day activities to include research, writing prose for an advertising campaign, creating slogans and taglines, and even writing jingles for ads.

How do I become a health copywriter? ›

A BSc in life sciences or a bachelor's degree in English or journalism. Certification by the American Medical Writer's Association (AMWA) is preferred. The ability to use charts and graphs and to conduct research across a range of specialized databases.

How much do medical copywriters make? ›

The average Healthcare Copywriter salary is $70,936 as of September 26, 2022, but the salary range typically falls between $62,175 and $80,727.

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