How to Become a Pediatrician
Pediatrician Careers & Degrees

A pediatrician provides specialized medical care to children and teenagers.

To become a pediatrician, you must first train to become a medical doctor, then go on to complete further study in the field of pediatrics.

If you’re interested in a career in medicine, wanting to work with children, and good at studying and research, then you might like to consider working as a pediatrician.

The duties of a pediatrician are similar to that of a regular doctor.

They see their patients, diagnose and treat a range of illnesses, and also refer them on to other specialists for surgery or other related matters.

The major difference is that all of their patients are children.

A pediatrician must have a wide field of knowledge relating to children’s health to provide the highest level of care to their cases.

Having a caring manner and good skills when it comes to children will help you a lot in this role.

Your patients, as well as their parents, will need to put their trust in your abilities.

Having strong interpersonal and people skills, as well as academic skills, is integral in this field of medicine.

Education Requirements to Become a Pediatrician

There is quite a lot education involved when you become a pediatrician.

You will need to be good at math and science, and also enjoy studying and research.

You will need to first complete a four year bachelors degree with pre-med concentration at a college that is strong in health and science.

While you are there, concentrate on making good grades since you will need them to gain a place in medical school.

After you graduate from college, you’ll need to complete a four year doctorate degree at medical school.

You will complete either a doctorate of medicine, or a doctorate of surgery.

Most pediatricians complete the doctorate of medicine.

After medical school, you’ll need to complete an internship at a hospital which takes about one year to complete.

Following your internship, you will need to complete a residency in pediatrics, which will take around three years.

In all states pediatricians must be licensed to practice and take a national exam.

Pediatrician Job Description

When you become a pediatrician, your main role will be to promote the health of children.

Your patients may be newborn babies, toddlers, children, or adolescents.

Some pediatricians work in hospitals to check on the health of regular patients, such as newborn babies.

Others work in specialist clinics.

A pediatrician will use a wide range of methods to diagnose health conditions or diseases.

It could be simply asking a patient or their parents questions, to taking medical histories, running blood tests, taking x-rays, or other procedures.

A pediatrician may treat illness by diagnosing drugs, giving health and nutrition advice, referring a patient to surgery, or referring them to another specialist.

Here are some of the duties of a pediatrician

  • Communicating with patients and their parents
  • Communicating with other medical staff
  • Analyzing a medical history
  • Taking and analyzing blood work
  • Ordering other tests
  • Ordering x-rays
  • Prescribing drugs
  • Administrating immunizations
  • Completing paperwork and reports
  • Administrative tasks

Pediatrician Salary and Career Path

While some pediatricians will work in private clinics and work regular hours, many will be employed in hospitals and work a variety of shifts, as well as being on call at times.

While most pediatricians will stay within this role for the most part of their career, some will move into managerial roles within hospitals.

Other may leave practice for research or teaching positions.

Some examples of positions include:

  • Medical researcher
  • Medical Doctor
  • Professor
  • Chief of medicine
  • Medical department head

Employment prospects are very strong, there is currently a shortage of pediatricians, especially in rural areas.

You can be assured that there is enough work for pediatricians in both private and public practice.

The median salary for pediatricians is around $160,000 a year, while some make in excess of $200,000 annually.

Most will also receive benefits such as health, dental, and optical.

Those who work in private practice are likely to make a higher income than those who work out of hospitals, and salaries can range significantly between different geographic areas as well.

When you become a pediatrician, you can look forward to a challenging and rewarding career in the health sector.

While there is a great deal of education and hard work needed to qualify, salary and benefits are strong, and it can be a very rewarding opportunity for those pursuing this career.

The below information is based on the 2019 BLS national averages.
  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary

$184,410
$69K
$127K
$184K
$K
$K
10%
25%
50%
75%
90%

Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
Alabama$214,220
Arizona$152,600
Arkansas$201,280
California$200,270
Colorado$162,010
Connecticut$200,090
Delaware$205,390
Florida$156,900
Georgia$156,320
Hawaii$173,290
Idaho$181,210
Illinois$198,770
Indiana$184,410
Iowa$238,990
Kansas$156,620
Kentucky$194,800
Louisiana$146,300
Maine$189,970
Maryland$178,160
Massachusetts$199,360
Michigan- NA -
Minnesota$217,450
Mississippi$249,270
Missouri$210,320
Montana$245,090
Nebraska$168,500
Nevada$247,360
New Hampshire$236,670
New Jersey$215,040
New Mexico$192,390
New York$168,800
North Carolina$173,760
North Dakota$258,680
Ohio$163,050
Oklahoma$110,740
Oregon$198,630
Pennsylvania$191,450
Rhode Island$200,300
South Carolina$172,110
Tennessee$179,320
Texas$186,410
Utah$228,440
Vermont- NA -
Virginia$186,680
Washington$194,510
Wisconsin$258,850
Wyoming$215,250
Puerto Rico$75,120

The top earning state in the field is Wisconsin, where the average salary is $258,850.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

Wisconsin - $258,850
North Dakota - $258,680
Mississippi - $249,270
Nevada - $247,360
Montana - $245,090
* Salary information based on the May 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Pediatricians, OCC Code 29-1221, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

QuestionWhat is a pediatrician?

Pediatricians are physicians who are specialized in treating medical conditions and issues specific to children.

Pediatricians work with children of all ages, from young infants to adolescents.

Pediatricians can work as general practitioners or can specialize further and become surgeons or specialists in specific types of disorders.

As a general pediatrician, you will treat minor infectious diseases, minor injuries, common illnesses, administer vaccinations and you will also play an important part in preventive care, by teaching your patients and their parents about hygiene, nutrition, healthcare.

General pediatricians diagnose and treat common and minor illnesses, and, in more severe cases, they recommend patients to specialists.

As a general pediatrician, you will also have to maintain the medical databases of your patients.

Pediatricians work predominantly in physician’s offices, hospitals being their second-highest employer.

QuestionHow much does a pediatrician make?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, pediatricians made an average annual salary of $183,240, as of May 2018.

However, salaries vary based on a wide range of factors and pediatricians who work in physicians’ offices usually make more than those who work in hospitals.

QuestionHow much does it cost to become a pediatrician?

If you want to become a pediatrician you must first earn a bachelor’s degree and complete some pre-med coursework in chemistry, biology, maths, physics, and English.

On average, a year at a good college is around $40,000, so for four years of study, you will have to pay around $160,000.

Before applying for medical school you must also take the Medical College Admission Test; the registration fee is $315.

Four years of medical school will cost you, on average, around $200,000 at a public school and more than $270,000 at a private school.

QuestionWhat is the demand for pediatricians?

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the projected job growth for pediatricians between 2018 and 2028 is slow, at only 2 percent.

Employment opportunities vary widely depending on the region and the physician’s education and level of expertise.

If you’re willing to relocate to underserved or rural areas your job prospects should be better.

QuestionHow long does it take to become a pediatrician?

The road to becoming a pediatrician starts in high school with classes in the basic sciences: biology, chemistry, physics, algebra.

Afterward, you have to go to college where you need to fulfill the courses required by most medical schools: biology, genetics, microbiology, molecular biology, organic chemistry, physics, math.

During your last years of college, you will need to take the MCAT to prove that you have adequate knowledge in the natural sciences.

A high MCAT score will make your medical school application stand out from the crowd.

The first two years of medical school will focus on teaching you about basic medical sciences like anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, microbiology; during the following two years, you will receive hands-on clinical experience under the supervision of an experienced medical doctor.

Finally, once you graduate from medical school and you have your doctor of medicine degree, you will start your residency in pediatrics for the next three or four years.

Most residency programs take place in a hospital where you will get invaluable experience as a doctor.

In order to practice medicine as a pediatrician you will have to obtain a license; requirements vary from state to state.

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