What is the Average Medical Writer Salary?

Updated on May 7th, 2022

With the current trends towards reports and publications of scientific research results, the medical writers are in demand now, making the medical writer salary quite competitive.

Medical writing is the science of communicating scientific and medical information to a broad range of audiences. Contract research organizations (CROs), communications agencies, academic institutions, and pharmaceutical companies hire medical writers, or medical communicators, to prepare various medical documents for regulatory submissions.

The job prospects seem promising for those with strong writing skills and an interest in medical writing careers. According to the BLS, or Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of medical writers, along with other technical writers, will increase by 8% between 2018 and 2028, with much of this growth relating to a rising number of medical studies being performed and new drugs entering the market.

Now, how much does a medical writer make? According to one of the top salary sites, Glassdoor, the estimated annual income for a medical writer is $96,324 in the United States, with a median salary of $78,102 per year. Another salary site named Payscale mentions that the average base salary for a medical writer is $40.07 per hour in the US.

In general, medical writer salaries differ due to a number of reasons. Employers consider different factors like geographic location, education, experience level, and industry expertise while recruiting.

Note: All salary information by Glassdoor and Payscale was last updated in December 2021 and April 2022.

Salaries Along the Medical Writing Career Path

Like every other industry, experience level is the major driver of salary ranges in medical writing also. However, other factors, such as extensive medical knowledge and great writing skills, also increase the salary range for medical communicators. This section mentions the duties and responsibilities of the respective roles, together with their average annual salaries.

Assistant Medical Writer: $88,525

Employers seek new graduates for entry-level medical writing positions. They require a Bachelor’s degree in a related field with zero to two years of prior work experience. Assistant medical writers receive the lowest salaries in their field due to basic education and limited experience in scientific or medical writing. For them, it is also great to have strong communication skills, experience in clinical areas, proficiency in software applications, and the ability to work in a team-oriented environment. As it is an entry-level role, leading companies and academic institutes also recruit new graduates to fill their associate medical writer positions.

Medical Writer: $96,397

Medical writers write and edit clinical documents like research papers, protocols, and analysis plans, explain project objectives and revisions, and review, interpret and summarize data and research papers. Two to four years of experience in scientific and/or regulatory medical writing is enough to win a medical writer job in a pharmaceutical or healthcare company.

New graduates with a Master’s degree or advanced degrees (PharmD, MD, Ph.D.) can bypass the assistant medical writer role and begin their careers as medical writers. However, those without relevant work experience will earn under average, which is higher than many jobs available to new graduates.

Remote Medical Writer: $97,302

Employers seek medical writers for remote positions having the same qualifications and experiences as those writers working in offices. They prefer candidates with an advanced degree, at least three years of relevant experience, and expertise in writing publications and clinical evaluation reports. Their duties and responsibilities are also the same. The additional requirement for this position is the willingness and ability to travel to local areas for work.

Principal Medical Writer: $97,517

A principal medical writer is responsible for planning and preparing a variety of documents required for clinical drug and device development phases. They organize, analyze, and interpret scientific information to generate documents like clinical study reports, manuscripts, study protocols, etc.

Most hiring companies require a Bachelor’s degree in science or related field, a minimum of eight years of medical writing experience in a pharmacy, CRO, or biotechnology setting, working knowledge of regulatory guidelines, experience in clinical research or other areas of the pharmaceutical industry, and strong written, oral, and interpersonal communication skills for the role of a principal medical writer.

Senior Medical Writer: $107,237

Devising and executing document strategies, preparing key clinical documents, overseeing other submission documents by other writers, and contributing to scientific and regulatory discussions are some of the duties of senior medical writers. A Master’s degree with a minimum of five years experience or a Bachelor’s degree with at least seven years of experience in scientific communications or regulatory medical writing is necessary to work as a senior medical writer.

Many employers also prefer an advanced degree with at least four years of medical writing experience. In addition, those applying for this position must have experience as a project medical writer and demonstrated expertise in regulatory writing, including clinical submission documents, investigator’s brochures, etc. Companies hiring senior writers offer generous salaries and packages, including performance bonuses.

Director Medical Writer: $134,941

The director of medical writing works to generate different medical documents, including manuals, regulatory submissions, research grant applications, and medical publications. They work to manage a team of medical writers and editors and review and edit documents written by others. Directors also create strategies for document writing and implement writing standards to ensure all documents follow the same standard.

When it comes to qualification, you must have a Bachelor’s degree in the field of medicine or science with at least twelve years of experience. Other preferred qualifications include a Master’s degree in the relevant field with over ten years of experience or a Ph.D. with a minimum of seven years experience in medical writing or a related field.

Also, you must have proven experience in a project management role and the ability to mentor juniors, manage complex documents, monitor and communicate issues/progress, and demonstrate critical and rapid decision-making. Given the job duties and advanced qualifications and experience, directors receive the highest pay within an organization.

Location

In addition to work experience, location also has a great impact on the salaries of medical writers. Cost of living is the main factor. For example, those working in San Francisco, California, earn between $66,021 and $163,711 per year, depending on their experience and qualification. The salaries in this area reflect its high living cost. Medical writers working in New Orleans receive a base salary ranging from $54,903 to $73,315, and the cost of living in this city is low.

Another factor that impacts the salaries is demand. Salaries increases in the cities where the demand for medical writers outpaces the supply. In the following section, we have shared the annual average salaries for medical writers according to different geographic locations. When reviewing the medical writer's salary offerings in these regions, you must also consider the living cost.

US Midwest

Average salaries for medical writers with living cost:

  • Chicago: $108,580 (23% above national average)
  • Minneapolis: $117,640 (5% above national average)
  • Detroit: $116,060 (3% lower than national average)

US South

Average salaries for medical writers with living cost:

  • Atlanta: $94,537 (1.8% above national average)
  • Austin: $97,695 (3% lower than national average)
  • New Orleans: $95,816 (12.9% above national average)

US West

Average salaries for medical writers with living cost:

  • San Francisco: $128,857 (80% above national average)
  • Seattle: $117,891 (49% above national average)
  • San Diego: $124,840 (44% above national average)

US Northeast

Average salaries for medical writers with living cost:

  • New York: $100,614 (129% above national average)
  • Boston: $109,642 (48% above national average)
  • Philadelphia: $101,529 (17% above national average)

Europe

Countries, including Austria, Iceland, Denmark, and Norway, pay the highest salaries in Europe in general. The average annual salaries for medical writers in some of the major European cities are as follows: 

  • Paris, France: €62,183
  • Berlin, Germany: €57,633
  • Copenhagen, Denmark: €81,429
  • Bern, Switzerland: €86,117
  • Oslo, Norway: €79,743
  • London, UK: €45,521
  • Reykjavík, Iceland: €61,954
  • Vienna, Austria: €64,267
  • Stockholm, Sweden: €51,412
  • Helsinki, Finland: €59,741

European countries with the highest living cost are Switzerland, Iceland, Norway, and Luxembourg.

Australia

The average medical writer's salary in Sydney, Australia, is AU$117,055 per year or AU$56 per hour. Entry-level positions (1-3 years of experience) start at AU$83,255, while most experienced medical writers earn up to AU$145,159. The average salary for medical writers in other Australian cities like Perth, Melbourne, and Brisbane is also similar. When it comes to the living cost, it is 85% higher than the rest of the world. Sydney and Perth are also a part of the world’s most expensive cities list.

Education

For medical writers, it is advantageous to hold at least a Master’s degree in a relevant field since many companies require them. Plus, many employers prefer to hire candidates having an advanced degree in life sciences. Those with a Bachelor’s degree in journalism or English can also become medical writers. Some medical writers opt for specialization, such as earning a PharmD degree, while others go to medical schools to become licensed medical professionals.

Besides having a relevant degree and some work experience, medical writers can also build out competitive skills by attending professional certifications and enrolling in education courses. Many colleges and universities offer academic courses and professional certifications for medical writers.

Ending Note

Above all, the salary for a medical writer depends on your employer and industry. However, your medical or scientific knowledge, qualification, and work experience also have a significant impact on the salaries. Whatever the case may be, focus on building your medical writing experience and keep yourself up to date with the latest scientific research and publications to negotiate for a competitive salary.