What is a Pediatrician?

By Jordan Fabel •  Updated: December 4, 2021  •  8 min read  •  Health
Approved Course is reader-supported. If you buy through links on our site, we may earn a small commission.

A pediatrician is a medical doctor with the necessary training to work with children, babies, and infants. According to MedicalNewsToday.com, pediatric care can even begin before conception.

As a pediatrician, you will focus on the emotional and physical health of children. You will need to be comfortable working with children to go into this medical position. When you want to become a doctor, this is one of the options you can choose.

Before you decide to become a pediatrician, you will want to understand the job duties. You should also know what the career path looks like. Let’s look a bit closer at what a pediatrician does and how you can become one.

What is a Pediatrician?

Job Duties of a Pediatrician

As a pediatrician, your biggest job will be a doctor for children. You will help children as they grow both physically and mentally. It’s common to provide preventative care and prescribe treatments for conditions and illnesses. Pediatricians can also specialize in an area, such as pediatric critical care, neurology, or cardiology.

Some of the common job duties for a pediatrician include:

If you choose to specialize, you may have other job duties, as well.

Steps to Become a Pediatrician

Step #1 – Complete High School

Before you can enter college and pursue any career in medicine, you need to finish high school. It’s important to have a very high GPA and take honors or AP courses, when possible. Also, make sure you score high on the ACT or SAT. With the right prep courses, you can do well in your AP courses and score high on the ACT or SAT.

Getting into a top university or college is a good start towards getting into a top medical school. High school allows you to get the grades and test scores to gain acceptance into a top pre-medical program.

Step #2 – Complete Your Bachelor’s Degree

you will also need to complete a bachelor’s degree to become a pediatrician. Just like in high school, you want to make sure you have a high GPA. Medical schools look for a GPA of 3.5 or higher.

A bachelor’s degree in pre-medicine, biology, organic chemistry or another related field will help you get into medical school.

Step #3 – Score High on the MCAT

The Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) is one of the biggest tests you will take. If you want to become a pediatrician, you will need to score high on this test. Getting into medical school is very competitive, especially in top schools.

Passing the test might get you into some schools. However, if you want to get into one of the top medical schools, you will need to score very high on this test. A good MCAT prep course can help ensure you’re well-prepared.

Step #4 – Finish Medical School

You will spend four years in medical school. The first two years will be classroom work including courses in anatomy, pathology, genetics, pharmacology, and physiology. Your third year will begin your clinical rotations. This will be a part of your pediatric clerkship.

During your two years of clinical rotations, you will learn about pediatrics and the day-to-day work. You will spend time shadowing pediatricians at teaching hospitals.

During your fourth year, you will gain more hands-on experience. You will also get to focus more on your specialty.

Step #5 – Complete Your Pediatrics Residency

If you want to become a pediatrician, you will need to complete a residency in pediatrics. This will take about three years. The first year is an internship and you will work under the supervision of physicians. The final year will be the time when you treat patients and start building relationships with them.

During years two and three, you will actually be a full resident. This means you can start to take patients and order tests. You will also diagnose illnesses, but you will still be supervised.

Once you complete your residency, you will be a general pediatrician. If you plan to specialize, you will want to continue on to a fellowship. This could take another one to three years.

Step #6 – Become Licensed

As a pediatrician, you will need to get your license. This means you have to pass the necessary tests and meet all the requirements. Completing medical school and your residency are the two major requirements.

You will also need to become certified by The American Board of Pediatrics. This will require you to pass an additional exam. If you specialize, you may need to pass an exam for your specialty, as well.

Necessary Skills for Pediatricians

If you want to be successful as a pediatrician, you will need to develop the right skills. Your training and education will give you the medical skills you need. Other skills to develop include:

These skills are vital to your success as a pediatrician. As you go through your education and training, develop these skills, as well.

Frequently Asked Questions About Pediatricians

How much can I make as a pediatrician?

The average salary for a pediatrician is about $207,400, according to Salary.com. They put the range for this career at about $156K to about $284K per year.

Money.USNews.com states the average salary is about $175K. This source has the salary range going from about $17K to about $208K for most Pediatricians. If you’re in the top 10%, you will likely make more than just $208K per year.

Your location may determine how high of a salary you are paid. Fayetteville, Miami, Madera, and Manhattan tend to be the highest paying cities for pediatricians.

What type of benefits will I get as a pediatrician?

It’s common to gain health insurance, dental insurance, malpractice insurance, and disability insurance when you work as a pediatrician. Many employers will also provide loan forgiveness or repayment programs. You can use a 403(b)-retirement program and also gain paid time off. Some employers will even provide relocation assistance or a wellness program.

How many hours will I work as a pediatrician?

Many pediatricians work a regular 40-hour week with eight-hour shifts. They work regular business hours. Sometimes, you may need to provide services outside of normal business hours. This may include working on weekends or at night, sometimes.

Some pediatricians may also need to be on-call for emergencies. Your shifts will likely be varied and longer during your residency.

Will I treat adults as a pediatrician?

While you will specialize in treating children, many pediatricians see patients up to the age of 21. This means you will treat adults from age 18 to 21, in some circumstances. Often, you won’t treat adults any older as you will not be trained to treat adults specifically.

Where can I work as a pediatrician?

there are many settings for pediatricians to work in. You may work in a hospital, a children’s hospital, a health maintenance organization, your own private practice, or in the military. Some will even work as researchers or teachers.

What is the work environment like for a pediatrician?

It will likely depend on where you work, but it’s common for pediatricians to spend many hours on their feet. You will work directly with children of all ages.

The environment will likely be much like a doctor’s office. you may spend some time in the emergency room if you work for a hospital.

Are pediatricians in high demand?

Most jobs in the healthcare industry are in high demand. Depending on the specialty you choose, your job may be in higher demand than others. While, in general, this career isn’t growing very fast, some specialties may be in high demand.

Those looking for a rewarding career in medicine may want to consider becoming a pediatrician. This type of career will allow you to help children, get paid well, and enjoy the prestige of becoming a doctor. Make sure you are dedicated, however, as it will take several years to become a pediatrician.

Jordan Fabel

Jordan Fabel

Covering different 'paths' that people's lives can take. Creative, foster parent, ticket dismissal, you get the idea. Exploring the requirements, certifications, exams, and obviously, approved courses along each path.