How to Become a Science Writer

Science writers report on advances in science from astrophysics and biology to zoology, putting technical language into words the average reader can understand. Depending on the discovery and the field it's in, they may have to present conflicting scientific opinions, ethical and policy questions related to the discovery, and the financial ramifications.

Science writers can be broken into two basic types: (1) science public information officers, who disseminate scientific information for universities, science museums, research foundations, corporations, non-profits, and the government; and (2) science journalists, who work full-time or freelance for newspapers, news services, publishers, or media outlets for the lay public, as well as publications for science professionals. Being a science writer requires a knowledge of and interest in the sciences, as well as good writing skills and journalistic instincts. There are several paths to take in becoming a science writer; the steps below outline some of these paths.


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    Take all the science and English classes you can while in high school. High school science classes include classes in biology, chemistry, and physics. Here, you can develop a basic understanding of science topics and also identify which of the sciences interests you most. English classes will help you develop and sharpen your writing skills, particularly if a journalism class is available coupled with the opportunity to work on your high school newspaper.
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    Read as many science-related publications as you can. Magazines such as Discover, National Geographic, Popular Science, Science, Science News, and Scientific American, as well as newspaper science articles can give you an idea of the breadth of science writing content and styles. Some science fiction magazines, such as Analog, Asimov's, and Omni, have also included science articles along with their science fiction stories.
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    Go to college. You'll need to continue taking both science classes and journalism classes in college. You can major in the science you plan to write about and minor in journalism, major in journalism and minor in the science, or go for a double major. Either way, you'll have plenty of writing opportunities, both in upper-level science classes and in journalism classes, as well as opportunities to become familiar with computers and multimedia.
    • If you find yourself more interested in being a scientist than in being a science writer at first, you can go the usual route of getting your bachelor's degree, followed by your master's and PhD. You'll do a fair amount of writing in upper level science classes, and you should take a number of English classes as well to enable you to write for various audiences.
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    Apply for an internship. An internship will give you practice as a science writer so you can see if the career is for you, as well as provide you with samples of your work to present to a prospective employer after you graduate. You can intern with your college news office or as a stringer with the local newspaper in the city you're going to college in.
    • Another option is to write for an Internet news service such as Check to see if the service you're interested in has a need for science writers and the level of experience required.
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    Join a professional association. Joining a science writing association provides you the opportunity to network with other science writers about science writing jobs and internships and be listed in the association's membership roster. Science writing associations include National Association of Science Writers (NASW) in the United States and the Indian Science Writers Association in India. Many associations offer memberships for both established science writers and students.
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    Consider a graduate degree. Even if you decide not to become a scientist before turning to science writing, you may still want to consider a graduate degree in science writing or science and technology communication. If you pursue an advanced science degree instead, you can also apply for internships in science writing as a graduate student. Not every science writer position requires a graduate degree, however, although an advanced science degree is helpful if you want to write for other scientists and make you a better science writer by making you a better researcher.


  • You can also become a freelance science writer. Freelance science writers typically make less per article initially than established science writers, particularly when writing for newspapers. Lengthy and complex science articles may take a month or longer to produce and may require juggling a number of assignments to be successful or freelancing while holding a staff job elsewhere. You will still need to get your work out there if you want to establish yourself as a science writer.
  • If you apply for a full-time position with a newspaper, you may have to start out in an entry-level position as a general-assignment reporter. Once you establish yourself as a good, dependable writer, you may then be able to specialize as a science journalist. If the newspaper or magazine is large enough, you may be able to specialize in a particular science, such as astronomy or biotechnology.
  • If you need a break from the deadlines of science writing, you can take advantage of a workshop or fellowship at a college or university to discover a new field or a new specialty as a science writer.
  • Both science journalists and science publication information officers interview scientists and do research in scientific journals and professional magazines. Science journalists may have the opportunity to accompany scientific expeditions, as well as the ability to cover a broader range of scientific discoveries, but science public information officers usually make more money.


  • Although science books are typically best sellers, the advances run to the middle of the range. Writers of science books usually hold down other jobs but can make a living at writing books if they write enough of them to develop a good reputation.
  • Science writing is not the same as technical writing. Although both can deal with writing for the general public in layman's terms, science writers write about discoveries in science while technical writers explain how to use a product or how something works.

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