Council for the Advancement of Science Writing

How Do I Know If I Should Become a Science Writer and If I Have What It Takes?

A Guide To Careers in Science Writing

The most important qualities a prospective science writer needs are a fascination with science and a talent for communicating clearly—via text, graphics, video and audio—accurately and with an interesting flair. Science writers must also possess a drive to continue learning throughout their professional lives. Each new science story can present new concepts and a new vocabulary to master.

Successful science writers have come from the ranks of science and journalism and just about every educational background. Science majors must learn the reporting and writing skills necessary to pursue a story, and journalism and other majors must understand scientific concepts and terms and the scientific method.

Some science writers are professional working scientists who complement their research with direct-to-the-public communications about their fields through lay-level articles, columns and popular science books.

Science writers often face particular challenges and frustrations. Newspaper, broadcast and online journalism is exciting work characterized by frequent travel and short deadlines , but the excitement can wear thin over time. The steady decline in newspaper and magazine circulation has also reduced the number of news science writers, making jobs in the field rarer and more precarious. For science PIOs, navigating the sometimes complicated politics inherent in the large organizations for which they work may become frustrating. 

Fortunately, science writing careers also provide many relief valves for such frustrations. For example, many science journalists and PIOs turn their hand and expertise to books, magazine articles and other freelance assignments. Also, science writers can take advantage of mid-career journalism fellowships and workshops to escape deadlines for a while and explore new fields.