General Pediatrician: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

A general pediatrician provides medical care for children of various ages to keep them healthy and growing. Education and training are important steps for preparing physicians to meet the pediatrician job requirements. View article »

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  • 0:01 Essential Information
  • 0:28 Job Description
  • 1:32 Common Duties
  • 2:02 Education Requirements
  • 2:40 Certification
  • 3:00 Salary Info & Career Outlook

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Video Transcript

Pediatrician Job Description

Pediatricians are doctors who specialize in caring for young people, from infants to young adults. General pediatrics encompasses the care, diagnosis, and treatment of a wide range of medical conditions and issues that are generally specific to the younger population. Typically, a general pediatrician will treat minor injuries, common illnesses, and some infectious diseases that may affect young people.

Pediatrician job duties include taking patients' medical histories, examining patients, ordering any necessary medical tests, and creating a plan of treatment for the patient. They must be able to communicate this plan and any medical options to the parents of the patient and answer any questions that they may have concerning the course of action. Pediatrician responsibilities may also include administering vaccinations, providing preventative healthcare, and teaching patients and their parents about proper healthcare, like hygiene and nutrition.

Pediatrician Career Information

Degree Required Doctoral or Professional Degree
Degree Field Medicine
Other Requirements Training, Licensure
Annual Median Salary (2018)* $170,560
Estimated Job Growth (2016-2026)* 15%

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Pediatricians generally work in physicians' offices and usually work in full-time positions. The job often requires doctors to be on-call and work irregular hours as needed.

How to Become a Pediatrician

In order to become a general pediatrician, students must pursue education, training, and licensure. Below, we discuss each step in more detail.

Step 1: Education

All physicians, no matter their specialty, must obtain a bachelor's degree followed by a 4-year medical degree. Generally, aspiring doctors can earn a bachelor's degree in any field, but must have plenty of coursework in biology, physics, math, chemistry, and English. Medical schools are usually competitive and train students in topics of anatomy, medical ethics, biochemistry, pharmacology, and more. The program generally concludes with medical rotations to allow students to experience different specialties within the field, such as pediatrics.

Medical schools may also vary in the kind of medical techniques they teach their students. Depending on how they are trained, pediatricians may use holistic medicine approaches, integrative medicine approaches, or alternative and complementary medicine options. These programs result in either a Medical Doctor (MD) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) degree. There are a number of top schools for holistic, integrative, and alternative and complementary medicine practices across the country.

Step 2: Training

After completing medical school, students must enter a residency program. For aspiring pediatricians, this residency program must be in pediatrics and may last about 3 to 4 years. Commonly, these residencies take place in a hospital and provide students with invaluable hands-on learning experiences.

Step 3: Licensure

Pediatricians in all 50 states must obtain state licensure to practice medicine. Requirements do vary by state, so students should be sure to check the specific requirements for the state in which they plan to work. A part of the licensure process includes passing a standardized national licensure exam. Based on how they were trained, MD's take the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination, while DO's take the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination.

Pediatrician Salary

According to the BLS, general pediatricians made an average annual salary of $183,240 in 2018. Those who worked in physicians' offices made an average salary of $188,980 for 2018, while those who worked in a hospital made an average of $167,640 in the same year. The BLS also reported that the highest average salary of $205,370 for the same year came for pediatricians working in a specialty industry.


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