The major employers of medical writers are pharmaceutical companies, contract research organizations, and medical communication agencies. Other employers include academic medical centers, medical foundations, large hospitals, medical advertising and communication agencies, medical education companies and colleges, and publishers, including websites. Opportunities in the government come from National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE).
Work in pharmaceutical companies and contract research organizations usually entails preparing detailed technical documents and following strict templates and regulatory guidelines. Work in other places such as medical communications agencies usually involves preparing marketing documents that offer more scope for creativity.
Pursuing medical writing careers as a freelancer is also possible, although most successful freelancers work in organizations for many years before freelancing. Freelancers usually undertake the same types of work as regular employers, and work for the same employers.
Medical writing is one health care related work with no direct or indirect patient care involved. The work is a desk job, with possibility for telecommuting. The job can however remain stressful and involve long hours owing to tight deadlines. The pay is higher than what other writers get because of the complexities involved. The average annual salary exceeded $74,000 in 2004. Employment prospects remain bright thanks to new developments in healthcare technology.
The Drug Information Association (DIA), American Medical Writers Association (AMWA), and European Medical Writers Association (EMWA) offer many resources including training and career opportunities for medical writers. The careers pages list many medical writing vacancies.