Breaking into medical/pharma editing
June 3, 2020 9:29 AM   Subscribe

Over the past few years, I have worked a bunch of contract positions as a proofreader and copy editor. The positions I’ve found the most rewarding have been at medical journals and pharmaceutical companies. How can I make the jump from short-term contract work to more permanent work?

After graduating college in 2014 and completing a service year, I have sustained myself on project-based temp work and freelancing as a proofreader and copy editor. (The one permanent job I shad was with a content mill that was bought out a few weeks after I started, and I was among the 60 people laid off.) I’m at a point in my life where I would like to have more stable work, and because the contract work in medical and pharma proofreading has been the most fulfilling, I would like to get a permanent job in that field.

With the economy paused, I would like to improve my chances at getting a permanent entry-level position as a proofreader or copy editor for a medical journal, a research nonprofit, or a pharmaceutical company. My question is twofold:

• What is the best way to get work or look for opportunities in this field? Should I be taking classes, looking for certification, or subscribing to listservs while I’m looking for jobs?
• Almost all the positions I’ve had since graduating have been short-term contract work. Even though I left these jobs on good terms when the project ended and have good references, I still look like a flight risk. How can I deal with my checkered work history while applying for jobs—whether that means getting out of the slush pile or talking about it in interviews?

FWIW I live in the Greater Boston area, and I can’t travel for work right now.
posted by pxe2000 to Work & Money (2 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I'm a full-time copy editor for a medical journal. When we hire people full-time, we are generally looking for people with experience in medical editing, so if you've done that even as a contract worker, you're ahead of the game. We have also recently hired someone who started as a contract worker (and offered a job to another), so the fact that you've done contract work may be helpful.

I'd suggest looking at the job board for the Council of Science Editors. The American Medical Writers Association also has a job board, but you have to be a member to access it. I haven't been a member for a long time, so I don't know how useful it is. AMWA has classes and certifications. It wouldn't hurt to look into those.

The Graham School at the University of Chicago offers a certificate in medical writing and editing, but the classes are very expensive. I think they're all available online though. After taking one of those classes, I started getting info on jobs from them. At the time, those jobs were in the Chicago area, but this kind of work is being done remotely more and more, so it's possible remote positions will come up. I think that a certificate from the Graham School could be helpful - it makes it clear that you are serious about this as a profession. However, I'm not 100% sure it's worth the cost if you're paying for it yourself.

Feel free to MeMail me if you have more questions.
posted by FencingGal at 10:00 AM on June 3, 2020 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I am a full-time freelance editor (also just outside of Boston). I listed a bunch of helpful resources (some of which related to medical editing) at a related thread:
posted by wisekaren at 11:40 AM on June 3, 2020 [1 favorite]

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