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Medical Writer vs. Technical Writer: What Are the Differences?

Learn about the two careers and review some of the similarities and differences between them.

Medical writers and technical writers both create content that is used to communicate complex information. However, the two professions differ in terms of their focus and the type of writing they produce. In this article, we compare and contrast medical writing and technical writing, including a discussion of the skills and knowledge required for each. We also provide information on the job outlook and earnings potential for each profession.

What is a Medical Writer?

A Medical Writer is a professional who writes and edits scientific and medical information for a variety of audiences. They may work in the pharmaceutical industry, for a medical communications agency, or in a hospital or academic medical center. Medical Writers produce a wide range of materials, including patient education materials, clinical study reports, journal articles, and regulatory documents. They work closely with scientists, physicians, and other healthcare professionals to ensure that the materials they produce are accurate and accessible. Medical Writers must have a strong understanding of the scientific process and be able to effectively communicate complex information to a non-technical audience.

What is a Technical Writer?

Technical Writers create user manuals, how-to guides, product specifications, assembly instructions and other types of documentation to help people understand complex systems and products. They work closely with product developers, engineers and other subject matter experts to gather accurate, up-to-date information. Technical Writers then organize and present this information in a clear, concise and easy-to-understand format. They may also create training materials or online help systems. Technical Writers typically have a bachelor’s degree in English, communications or a related field. They must also be able to understand complex technical information and be proficient in writing and editing.

Medical Writer vs. Technical Writer

Here are the main differences between a medical writer and a technical writer.

Job Duties

Medical writers and technical writers share some of their job duties. These shared duties include researching topics, writing drafts and editing work for grammar, spelling and punctuation. The major difference is that medical writers focus on the clinical aspects of a subject, while technical writers focus on the functional aspects. This means that a medical writer might use different research methods than a technical writer to ensure they have accurate information.

Another key difference is that technical writers often work within specific formats when creating content. For example, they may follow Microsoft Word’s format when creating documents or adhere to other formatting requirements. Medical writers do not always have formatting requirements because they typically create scientific papers rather than user-friendly documents.

Job Requirements

Medical writers typically need a bachelor’s degree in English, journalism, communications or another relevant field. They might also pursue a master’s degree or doctorate in medical writing or a related area. Some employers prefer candidates to have experience working in the medical field, but it is not always required. Additionally, many medical writers are certified through the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA). This organization offers training programs and resources that can help professionals learn more about the field and stay up-to-date on industry changes.

Technical writers usually only need a bachelor’s degree to enter the field. However, some employers prefer candidates to have a degree in a technical field, such as engineering, computer science or mathematics. Technical writers might also pursue a master’s degree in technical writing or a related area. Additionally, many technical writers are certified through the Society for Technical Communication (STC). This organization offers certification programs that can help professionals learn more about the field and stay up-to-date on industry changes.

Work Environment

Medical writers often work in hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities. They may also work for pharmaceutical companies or medical publishing firms. Technical writers typically work in offices, but they may travel to different locations to meet with clients.

Technical writers usually work full time during regular business hours, while medical writers may have more irregular schedules that involve working evenings, weekends and holidays. Medical writers may also need to be available 24 hours a day in case of an emergency.


Both medical writers and technical writers use writing skills to communicate information clearly and concisely. However, medical writers typically focus on communicating scientific or medical information to health care professionals, while technical writers focus on conveying information about products or services to consumers.

Medical writers need to have a strong understanding of medical concepts and terminology to accurately convey information in their writing. They also often benefit from having research skills so they can find and evaluate scientific studies to include in their writing. Technical writers do not necessarily need to have an in-depth understanding of the products or services they are writing about, but they do need to be able to understand complex technical information and explain it in a way that is easy for consumers to understand.

Organizational skills are important for both medical writers and technical writers, as they often have to manage multiple projects at one time and ensure that all deadlines are met. Both types of writers also need to be able to work well with others, as they often collaborate with other team members, such as editors, designers and illustrators, to create finished products.


The average salary for a medical writer is $88,755 per year, while the average salary for a technical writer is $81,518 per year. Both of these salaries can vary depending on the type of company you work for, your level of experience and your location.


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