Science is a wonderful thing if one does not have to earn one’s living at it. ~Albert Einstein
Einstein’s opinion aside, science offers a wide range of career opportunities, and many Puget Sound students pursue them. Peruse Career and Employment Services’ Alumni Sharing Knowledge (ASK) Network on Cascade, and you’ll notice that many science majors go on to successful, fulfilling science careers in education, medical, engineering, and research fields.
And those are all great options. But what if they don’t appeal to you? Clearly, your major doesn’t lock you in to a particular field. Puget Sound alumni pursue all kinds of careers — some related to their major, some not. But what if you still want a career that has a strong scientific component?
There you stand. You with your love of science and technology, your writing and communication skills sharply honed by your fine liberal arts education. What might you do with this potent combination of passion and ability, other than write for Popular Science?
(Hey! You could write for Popular Science!)
Science Writing is a broad field, but ultimately, all science writers contribute to the general public’s understanding of science and technology by describing and explaining scientific concepts and technical terminology in simple, yet accurate, language. They write news articles, magazine features, textbooks, instruction manuals, documentary scripts, grant proposals, marketing materials, content for Web pages, and so on. As a science writer, you might specialize in…
Science Journalism: Report about scientists, discoveries, inventions, events, issues, and other happenings in the science and technology world for newspapers, magazines, journals, television, radio, and internet news services. Yoo-hoo…Popular Sciiennnnce!
Public Relations: Communicate the latest scientific research made by your employer (universities, medical centers, laboratories, research institutes, science museums, nonprofit health organizations, etc.) to media outlets. When genetic variants associated with lung disease are discovered or giant mutant guinea pigs escape the laboratory, you’re on call.
Medical: Write clinical study reports, position papers, regulatory documents, patient handbooks, and other materials for biotechnology firms, medical schools, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, government agencies and nongovernmental organizations. Side effects may include: hyper-Latin-pronunciation tongue sprain, physician’s handwriting eye-squint, and I’ve-fallen-and-I-can’t-get-up-itis.
Educational: Write textbooks for science classes. Create educational materials for science museums, nature centers, and science programs. Imagine! An entire generation of O Chem students might praise or curse your name!
Technical: Develop manuals and other documentation for technical devices, software programs, computer hardware, and other consumer products. This field goes way beyond the creation of DVD operation manuals and stereo installation guides.
Most science writers complete writing assignments or writing projects on a contractual basis for different clients. You have freedom from “the man” but you are essentially running your own business — you have to meet deadlines, but you also have to purchase office supplies, balance your books, and schedule time to seek out future work.
So, if you have excellent writing, organizational, research, communication, interpersonal, computer and self-management skills, consider Science Writing as a potential career path. Ignore Wernher Von Braun*, and use these resources to aid your research:
- “Career Opportunities in Science” (from which most of the information for this article was lifted) is available for check-out from the CES Career Resource Library in Howarth 101.
- Career Cruising on Cascade provides profiles for a variety of writing careers.
- The Alumni Sharing Knowledge (ASK) Network on Cascade lists a number of Technical Writers who you could contact for informational interviews.
- Council for the Advancement of Science Writing: http://www.casw.org
- National Association of Science Writers: http://nasw.org
- Elements is a full-color science magazine published semiannually by student enthusiasts in the sciences at the University of Puget Sound. They are always looking for new writers, and if you get published, it will look great on your resume!
web: http://asups.ups.edu/clubs/elements/ e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
*Research is what I’m doing when I don’t know what I’m doing. ~Wernher Von Braun
© 2010 Career and Employment Services, University of Puget Sound