What is the average senior medical writer salary? The average salary a senior medical writer gets is different everywhere, depending on various factors.
The demand for medical writing is growing at a rapid pace in the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry. Medical writing involves developing and producing documents that deal with medicine or healthcare in particular. It demands an understanding of medical science and an aptitude for writing. Medical writers, also called medical communicators, work for academic institutions, healthcare companies, and communications agencies to produce different types of medical documents.
Senior medical writers hold advanced degrees in the life sciences and have a great interest in the accurate and effective communication of scientific ideas. The job of a senior medical writer is to focus on providing science-based education and empowering readers by offering medical communications and programs that include different media for healthcare professionals and patients.
Now, how much does a senior medical writer make? The average base salary for a senior medical writer differs from one location or company to another. In the US, the estimated total pay for a senior medical writer by Talent.com is $107,500 per year or $55.13 per hour. Without additional pay and benefits, the senior medical writer’s base salary is $80,128 per year. Early-career senior medical writers make at least $95,000 per year, while most experienced senior medical writer employees earn up to $132,500 every year.
According to another major salary site, Glassdoor, the highest salary employers pay to a senior medical writer in the United States is $131,277 per year. And the lowest salary a senior medical writer gets in the US is $84,107 per year.
Salaries for the Senior Medical Writers
There are multiple positions for senior medical writers in a company, depending on their experience level and qualification. The following section mentions the average annual senior medical writer salary for each position, along with discussing their key duties in an organization:
Entry-level senior medical writers work in a cross-functional team to create scientific documents, coordinate and manage the review process, conduct literature searches, contribute to post-market surveillance activities, and attend conferences to keep up to date with growth in the field. Employers prefer an entry-level senior medical writer with an advanced degree (Ph.D., MD, or PharmD) in a scientific discipline having a few months of work experience in medical writing.
Early-career senior medical writers’ duties involve developing clear drafts and incorporating revisions, attending meetings, liaising with clients, providing input on project schedules, specifications, and budget, giving briefings to other writers, and mentoring new writers.
For this position, employers seek candidates with over a year of experience in medical writing. They must have a Bachelor’s degree in life sciences or a related field. PharmD or Ph.D. is quite advantageous. Other requirements for this role are to have proficiency in using the latest software technology and the ability to work apart and as a part of a team.
Mid-career senior medical writers are responsible for preparing, editing, and finalizing documents in collaboration with the project team, ensuring appropriate documented QC checks and documents’ compliance with relevant guidelines, and participating in advisory meetings.
For this role, companies seek senior medical writer employees with a Doctoral degree and over five years of relevant medical writing experience or a Master’s degree with at least nine years of work experience in writing clinical and regulatory documents for different industries. They must have a thorough knowledge of clinical research concepts and practices, experience in managing medical writing responsibilities, and excellent interpersonal and influencing skills.
In general, this role is also called Head of Medical Writing, which involves providing leadership to plan and complete key submission documents, contributing to overall project management, managing the writing team, participating in hiring and mentoring writers, and working with different departments to manage and author guidelines, SOPs, and templates.
Experienced senior medical writers must have a Bachelor’s degree or higher in a medical or scientific discipline. At least ten years in medical writing with supervisory experience is necessary. They must have experience forming medical writing budgets and proposals, knowledge of clinical and pharmaceutical processes, and a good understanding of experimental methods and statistical analysis to coordinate and develop clinical and related documents.
This is the highest-ranking medical writer role, who is responsible for strategic planning and resourcing of medical writing activities, writing and editing regulatory documents that are in compliance with regulations, standards, and guidelines, contributing to multi-author projects, creating and managing timelines for document development, developing SOPs for deliverables, providing guidance to contributing authors, and monitoring issues and risks.Employers demand an advanced scientific degree in life sciences or related discipline with over 20 years of relevant experience and related competency levels. Prior industry experience in authoring, supporting, or briefing documents is important for this role.
There are many factors impacting the salaries of senior medical writers all across the world. Besides experience level, location is another factor that affects the senior medical writer salary. High-earning areas in a country tend to have a higher living cost, whereas places with a lower cost of living offer lower salaries.
Talent demand is another factor affecting the salaries of senior medical writers. Where the demand for a role exceeds the supply, salaries increase there as a result. The following section contains the average annual senior medical writer salaries in different parts of the world. Consider the cost of living when reviewing the medical writer salary offering in each region.
Average salaries for senior medical writers in the US South:
- San Antonio: $87,490 (14% lower than the national average)
- Atlanta: $89,390 (2% above the national average)
- Austin: $132,683 (3% lower than the national average)
- Dallas: $137,661 (2% above the national average)
- Nashville: $116,046 (3% lower than the national average)
Average salaries for senior medical writers in the US West:
- San Francisco: $128,301 (80% above the national average)
- Seattle: $115,447 (49% above the national average)
- San Diego: $132,618 (44% above the national average)
- Los Angeles: $132,802 (43% above the national average)
- San Jose: $112,990 (49% above the national average)
Average salaries for senior medical writers in the US Midwest:
- Chicago: $103,561 (23% above the national average)
- Kansas City: $79,684 (8% lower than the national average)
- Minneapolis: $96,090 (5% above the national average)
- Detroit: $121,018 (3% lower than the national average)
- Indianapolis: $96,239 (8% lower than the national average)
Average salaries for senior medical writers in the US Northeast:
- New York: $110,184 (129% above the national average)
- Boston: $101,590 (48% above the national average)
- Philadelphia: $96,790 (17% above the national average)
- Hartford: $132,711 (17% above the national average)
- Providence: $94,390 (9% above the national average)
According to Glassdoor, the average senior medical writer salary in Canada is CA$120,087 per year, varying from province to province. Here are the annual average salaries for senior medical writers in different cities in Canada:
- Toronto: CA$119,684
- Montreal: CA$116,018
- Vancouver: CA$108,979
- Calgary: CA$95,619
- Hamilton: CA$112,550
Canada is a vast country, and as of 2022, it is the 25th most expensive country to live in the world. Different regions have different costs of living. Of all the places, Vancouver and Toronto have the highest living cost in the country.
Iceland, Norway, and Denmark are known for paying the highest salaries in Europe. Following are the average annual senior medical writer salaries in the major European cities:
- Paris, France: €56,370
- Rome, Italy: €64,153
- Berlin, Germany: €63,066
- Copenhagen, Denmark: €100,784
- Bern, Switzerland: €107,181
- Oslo, Norway: €99,398
- London, UK: €52,705
- Reykjavík, Iceland: €77,869
- Vienna, Austria: €85,422
- Stockholm, Sweden: €68,454
Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland are the top European countries with the highest cost of living.
In Australia, a senior medical writer earns an average base salary of AU$145,178 per year. Salaries differ from one region to another due to various factors. Here are the average salaries for senior medical writers in the main cities of Australia:
- Sydney: AU$117,000
- Melbourne: AU$135,064
- Perth: AU$111,823
- Brisbane: AU$107,819
- Adelaide: AU$104,411
The cost of living in Australia is 85% higher than everywhere across the world. Its main cities, i.e., Sydney and Perth, are among the most expensive cities to live in the world.
Companies, for the senior medical writer position, prefer candidates holding a Master’s degree in a relevant field or an advanced degree in life sciences or clinical discipline. In addition to a relevant advanced degree and substantial work experience, a senior medical writer also enrolls in education courses and obtains professional certifications.
Some companies prefer employees to have the Certified Medical Publication Professional (CMPP) certification from ISMPP. Additional qualifications in medical writing, such as the Regulatory Affairs Certification (RAC), European Medical Writers Association (EMWA) certification, and American Medical Writers Association (AMWA)’s MWC, are also advantageous.
Medical equipment firms, healthcare websites, and academic institutions pay a handsome amount to senior medical writers for authoring and managing important scientific documentation. Experience level, qualification, additional certifications, and medical knowledge affect the senior medical writer salaries. No matter what the case is, stay informed about the latest scientific research and keep on building your medical writing experience to win a senior medical writer job in any of the world’s leading companies.
Josh is the founder of Technical Writer HQ and Squibler, a writing software. He had his first job in technical writing for a video editing software company in 2014. Since then, he has written several books on software documentation, personal branding, and computer hacking. You can connect with him on LinkedIn here.