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How to Become a Pediatrician

If you want to work with children, you have likely considered careers such as teaching and nannying, but have you ever wondered how to become a pediatrician? With a good salary and the ability to help care for kids, this job hits all the best marks.

What Is a Pediatrician?

Pediatricians are the doctors who take care of children. These doctors are physicians who specialize in childcare. They care for babies, young children, and adolescents as they diagnose conditions and advise parents about their well-being. Pediatricians perform a wide range of tasks, but the ultimate goal is to provide the best possible healthcare for children.

What Does a Pediatrician Do?

Diagnose and Treat Minor Illnesses and Injuries

Anytime a child is sick or injured, a pediatrician diagnoses the problem and comes up with a treatment plan. Whether it be performing tests for strep throat or the flu, or sending the child to get stitches for a deep cut, pediatricians make sure children get the best treatment possible.

Performs Diagnostic Tests

Often when children are sick, tests are needed to determine what is going on. Pediatricians may order and perform many tests to be done, such as bloodwork or x-rays. Sometimes more complex tests must be done and pediatricians are the ones who decide when and if those are necessary.

Guides Parents and Children

It can be difficult to decide what is best for your child, especially if you are a new parent or your child has more complex needs. Pediatricians help guide and advise parents and children about the most appropriate diet and hygiene practices. They also work with parents to develop the best disease prevention plans.

Essential Pediatrician Skills


Empathy is a skill needed when working in any medical career. You will deal with all sorts of patients, from severely injured and ill children to overly cautious parents. Being able to show your patients empathy is absolutely essential to making connections with patients and being a good pediatrician.


Little kids often have a difficult time expressing what is wrong and that can be frustrating for someone who is trying to solve the problem. Having patience with them is important to get them to trust you and feel safe. Without patience, you are likely to lose clients and potentially make mistakes when diagnosing illnesses and injuries.


Since pediatricians treat children, they must be inquisitive. Parents may bring in a baby for something small, like a bellyache, that could actually be a symptom of something much more serious. Knowing what questions to ask is the key to a fast and accurate diagnosis of potentially life-threatening ailments.

Pediatrician Salaries and Job Outlook

As is the case with most medical professions, your salary will be largely determined by your experience and location. That being said, the average pediatrician in the United States earns around $170,500 per year.

If you are open to working outside of your home state, we recommend researching states you would like to work in to find out where you can earn the most money. Wherever there is a higher demand, there will likely be higher pay.

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts the field of all physicians will grow seven percent by 2028. This is a bit faster than the average rate of growth for other occupations, meaning there should be plenty of job opportunities as a pediatrician in the coming years.

As long as people keep having babies and the world’s population continues to grow, it should never be hard to find work as a pediatrician, especially if you choose to specialize in a specific area.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Pediatrician?

Since pediatricians are doctors, they do have to go to medical school. The path to becoming a pediatrician typically includes earning a bachelor’s degree, completing medical school, and earning licenses and certifications. Altogether, this takes an average of 11 to 12 years to complete, which may seem like a long time but is totally worth it in the end.

How to Become a Pediatrician: A Step by Step Guide

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

Prior to entering medical school, you must first earn a bachelor’s degree. Depending on the school you go to, you can choose to enroll in a pre-med program or you can complete a health-related degree. Many choose to major in biology or child psychology because of how close these majors are to their career goals.

Step 2: Complete Medical School

After earning a bachelor’s degree, future pediatricians must apply to and enroll in a medical school. Medical school typically takes around four years to complete, and students study a wide range of disciplines throughout those years. The first two years are generally spent learning about the different fields of medicine while the last two years are spent learning about how to care for patients under the supervision of a licensed doctor.

Step 3: Complete a Residency

Once a student finishes medical school, they are already considered a doctor, but they are still required to complete a residency. This is another program that takes around three years and is completed by studying and working under a licensed pediatrician. Residencies help students gain plenty of experience under a mentor before starting out on their own.

Step 4: Earn Licenses and Certifications

All pediatricians will be required to pass a national and state license exam. The national licensing exam is a three-part test and each state has different requirements, but most involve a two-part exam. After becoming licensed, pediatricians may choose to become board-certified in areas of specialty, though this is optional.

Should You Become a Pediatrician in 2020?

For anyone who wants to work with kids and make a good salary, becoming a pediatrician in 2020 is a wise career decision. We definitely recommend this job to you in 2020, especially due to the predicted growth of the field.


What is the starting pay for pediatricians?
Most pediatricians receive a starting pay of around $68,800 per year.
Is it hard to become a pediatrician?
Some may find medical school challenging, but as long as you have the motivation and drive to do it, you will be able to become a pediatrician.
Are pediatricians happy?
Pediatricians rank as the 6th happiest of all physicians.
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