Considerations and skills for becoming
a Science Communicator
To be a science communicator usually means that it is your job to digest complex scientific concepts and communicate them to the public in simple, clear and engaging ways. Many scientists engage with the public while they are still immersed in their research. However, if you are thinking of becoming a full-time communicator, you’ll need to know a few things to get started. But first, let’s look at why this career path has gained in significance in recent years.
Emerging importance of science communication
The importance of this job has become ever-increasing as many of humanity’s issues are now being addressed using new, exciting science, and more of the public is becoming interested in these solutions. Also, in an increasingly connected world, many sources claim to have credible scientific information to disseminate, when in fact much of that information is fabricated for one reason or another. It is your job as science communicators to make sure that you share and communicate accurate and meaningful information to help educate and excite more people about new science.
Options and considerations for science communication
There are many forms of science communication, with very common ones being:
- Working for a non-profit organisation to help engage communities in science
- Outreach (which is another form of the above)
A simple consideration to start with would be whether you are able to afford taking on a role full time, as many positions are either unpaid or are paid on a commission basis. This means you will need to ensure that you get enough work to help support you.
Skills to be a science communicator
Regardless of the role you choose, every science communicator needs a certain set of skills that will help them be great at their job.
- All science communicators need to possess decent writing and communication skills. This will help you to ensure that you are able to create clear, understandable and entertaining content for your audience to read, listen to and engage with at all levels.
- Being somewhat savvy with technology also helps, as creating engaging content may require skills such as graphics creation, sound editing or video editing.
- Finally, social media platforms have become wholly unavoidable, and are a great channel for engagement with potentially interested audiences. So, you’ll need to be comfortable with using them.
Getting started with science communication
- Create a few pieces of public engagement material and get feedback from friends and family, preferably from outside academia. If you feel that you enjoyed the process and the feedback you receive is generally favourable, that should encourage you to keep at it.
- Many science writers and communicators start with a blog, where they publish their work and which they then promote on social media to help gain traction.
- Once you have created a bit of a portfolio for yourself, you can consider seeking employment at organisations that might need someone to help with their public engagement. Having samples of your written or published work ready makes you competitive and will help potential employers decide whether your work aligns with what they are looking for.
All the best for your science communicator journey!
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