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Pediatrician: Occupational Outlook & Education Requirements

Sep 25, 2019

Pediatricians require a significant amount of formal education. Learn about the education, job duties and residency requirements to see if this career is right for you.

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If you want to be a doctor that works exclusively with children and teenagers, then pediatrics may be the right field for you. Pediatricians commonly have a private practice, but also work in hospitals and outpatient centers. Since they are medical doctors, they must complete medical school and a pediatric residency, then obtain a license and possibly board certification to increase their chances of employment.

Essential Information

Pediatricians are medical doctors who work with children and teenagers, diagnosing illnesses and writing prescriptions. Becoming a pediatrician typically involves at least seven years of graduate-level schooling, including medical school and a residency. Completion of a fellowship may be required for pediatric board certification, which is optional but obtained by many pediatricians. These professionals can expect solid employment opportunities.

Required Education Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) program
Other Requirements Physician licensure and residency program in pediatrics; pediatric board certification is common
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 2% for all Pediatricians, general
Annual Average Salary (2018)* $183,240 for all Pediatricians, general

Source:*U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Occupational Outlook for Pediatricians

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), physicians and surgeons, the occupational category that pediatricians are grouped in, could see slow growth in jobs through 2028 (www.bls.gov). Most pediatricians work in physicians' offices, general hospitals and outpatient centers. However, many are self-employed and run their own private practices. Some pediatricians also work with community or governmental organizations to resolve large-scale health issues affecting children.

Salary Information

According to the BLS, in May 2018, pediatricians working in physicians' offices earned a mean salary of $188,980, while those working in specialty facilities, excluding psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals, made $205,370, as reported by the BLS.

Educational Requirements

Prospective pediatricians need to meet extensive educational requirements, often beginning with a bachelor's degree in a science-related area, such as biology or chemistry. After finishing their undergraduate programs, they must complete medical school and a pediatric residency before seeking licensure and specialty certification.

Medical School

Students should apply to medical schools that are accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME). As of 2015, the LCME had accredited 134 U.S. medical programs. According to the BLS, applicants submit transcripts, letters of recommendation and their scores on the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT); they may also have to interview with a member of a program's department.

During the first two years of medical school, students explore the major systems of the body and learn basic principles in the practice of medicine. In the final two years, they perform a series of supervised clinical rotations that usually last 1-2 months each. Some rotations are required, but there are electives that allow students to pursue their areas of interest.

Residency Programs

Residencies in this field typically last three years and expose residents to general pediatrics and various subspecialties, such as pediatric cardiology, pediatric emergency medicine and pediatric nephrology. Once their residency is completed, individuals who wish to work in a subspecialty might choose to pursue a fellowship.

Pediatrics is a rapidly growing field, thus an abundance of job opportunities will become available. A career as a pediatrician entails a great deal of education, including medical school and residency programs, as well as licensure. Moreover, after all that hard-work, a bountiful average salary will be a great reward.

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