Science Writing and Journalism  

Communicating about science, engineering, and technology is an important skill set to develop. There are many ways to incorporate science writing into a career. In some career paths, you can work full-time for organizations or universities to write, edit, publish, produce multimedia, and overall promote research. 

Another career path is to write freelance for different companies, blogs, or other media outlets. Freelancers are in control of their hours and can choose their content. As such, freelancers actively seek out clients, pitch story ideas to them, promote themselves, and manage their own business. 

A third set of options is to incorporate writing as a side-job. Some tenure-track faculty and industry employees regularly contribute to publications and websites. Even though this type of writing is not part of their full-time job, and not their primary source of income, many scientists enjoy having an outlet for their perspective with a broader audience than academic journals. Since journalism is a competitive industry, writing as a secondary vocation can be a way of balancing interest in writing with making a living. 

In writing careers, it’s very important to connect with professionals in the field and to demonstrate a body of work. Take the time to network, find your niche, build an audience, and compile a writing portfolio on a blog or personal website. 

This panel discussion with Duke alumni may also shed some light for exploration, Tell Me More: From Concept to Cover. 

Explore The Variety of Career Paths With These Example Fields & Roles 

Look up these titles or fields on Indeed or LinkedIn to learn more about what projects they work on and what skills are needed. This information is also useful when writing your application documents and preparing for interviews. 


  • Writer 
  • Science Writer 
  • Editor 
  • Science Communicator 
  • Scientific Illustrator 


  • Freelance Writer 
  • Contributor 

Academia, Offices of News and Communications 

  • Senior Writer 
  • Science Writer 


  • Press Package Writer 
  • Science Content Specialist 
  • Communications Outreach Administrator 

Research & Development 

  • Communications Associate 
  • Science Writer 
  • Science Editor 

Compare Different Science Writing and Journalism Organizations 

* = in the Raleigh-Durham area; # = history of sponsoring visas from 

Search LinkedIn or Google Finance for these employers, and look for the section on related companies to help you identify others. 


  • AAAS 
  • American Society for Cell Biology 
  • WestEd# 
  • Wistar Institute# 

Academic Journals 

  • Journal of Visualized Experiments (JoVE) 
  • Nature 
  • Wiley# 
  • Pearson Education# 

Higher Education 

  • University/college news office*# 
  • Public relations offices*# 

Research & Development 

  • Seagate# 
  • Illumina# 
  • Altarum Institute 
  • Fluke# 

Medical Centers 

  • Sloan Kettering# 
  • Johns Hopkins Health System# 
  • Duke University Medical Center*# 

Government & National Labs 

  • Smithsonian Institution# 
  • Oak Ridge National Lab# 


  • Scientific Consulting Group 
  • Ripple Effect Communications 
  • IQ Solutions 


  • American Journal Experts*# 
  • Discover 
  • Popular Mechanics 

Read Additional Science Writing and Career Resources 

Meet Science Writing Professionals to Talk About Opportunities and Their Careers 

Build These Specific Skill Sets and Highlight Them When Applying 

We summarized these skills from conversations with professional science writers. Particular jobs may not require all of these skill sets, so find out from online resources and professionals you meet which of these skills sets are most relevant. 

Knowledge base 

  • Broad understanding of scientific topics 
  • Specific niche areas of interest 
  • Stay up-to-date with new and promising research 


  • Read primary and secondary literature 
  • Confer with experts 
  • Interview professionals 

Project management 

  • Flexibility 
  • Keep calm when difficulties arise 
  • Meet tight deadlines 

Managing people 

  • Enforcing deadlines, encouraging contributions, contacting experts 
  • Building rapport 
  • Collaborate with writers, editors, art directors, etc. 


  • Engage diverse audiences 
  • Edit 
  • Proofread 
  • Experience with different writing forms 
  • Familiarity with common style guides and publications’ style sheets 
  • Integrate multiple types of media to complement the story 
  • Write ledes to draw the reader into the story 
  • Structure story into digestible segments 
  • Understand the reader’s perspective for providing context and challenging misconceptions 
  • In an editing test, be aggressive to point out holes in the story, compile questions for the author, and show off what you know 
  • Plan how main text coordinates with insets, pullquotes, text boxes, graphics, social media, captions, subheadings, etc. 

Gain Experience 

You can gain experience in many ways that involve different amounts of time investment. 

Blog to practice writing, find your voice, and present a portfolio of your work 

  • Write in different formats on diverse topics to show breadth of experience 
  • You do not need to wait for someone to offer you a writing project 
  • Create a social media presence, especially on Twitter, to start building up your readership 
  • Contribute as a guest blogger for blogging networks such as SciLogs

Pitch a story to a publication for freelance writing experience 

  • Read the publication and take note of their style, structure, content, and tone 
  • Make a personal connection to the editor through networking 
  • Convince the editor that the story is important and that you are the person to write it 
  • Provide a short layout of the proposed article 
  • Start with lede to capture their attention 
  • List the people you will talk to or interview, especially if you’ve already connected with them 
  • Suggest artwork beyond a Google search even if you don’t currently have permissions 
  • Propose multimedia options that can complement the piece

Science Writing and Journalism Job Search Tools 

Consider the common skills required by jobs and internships. 

Should You Pursue an Advanced Communication or Writing Degree? 

Some universities offer master’s degree programs.

List of graduate certificate programs in science communication  

A master’s degree can be a useful credential in the competitive market for full-time writing jobs, but it is not necessary for part-time or freelance writing. An established body of work and audience are more important than degrees.