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How to Become A Pediatrician

Improving the health of children is essential to building a healthier and safer generation for tomorrow. Various healthcare programs have therefore been established to promote children health and raise awareness on disease prevention. Pediatricians are at the forefront of this mission. These medical experts provide healthcare services to children from early childhood. Pediatricians specialize in treating kids and respond to their various healthcare needs. What makes this career challenging is the changing psychological and physical nature of children. Pediatrician must be able to assess seriousness of a child’s illness and provide adequate medical treatment and care.

With the healthcare industry expanding, the need for specialized professionals such as pedestrians is high. In 2012, there were approximately 35,000 employed pediatricians, according to O*NET OnLine.

How to Become a Pediatrician

To become a pediatrician, individuals must complete its educational and training requirements. Education is necessary to help students develop the necessary understanding of the medical field, whereas training will allow students to build a strong skill set. The general steps that must be completed to become a pediatrician are:

  • Complete a high school diploma
  • Complete a four-year bachelor’s degree from an accredited school
  • Complete four years of education from a medical school
  • Complete a 3-4 year residency program in pediatrics

During high school, it is recommended that students take up various science courses as this will help strengthen their scientific knowledge and prepare them for advanced studies ahead.

The first step to preparing for a medical school is to hold a bachelor’s degree, preferably in biology or a related field.  According to The Association of American Medical Colleges, over 51% of students hoping to enter medical school chose to major in biological sciences. Other recommended majors are:

  • Humanities
  • Statistics and math
  • Physical sciences
  • Chemistry
  • Specialized health sciences
MCAT and Admission Requirements

The MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) is a standardized test. The test will evaluate your problem solving skills, critical thinking skills, knowledge of scientific concepts, and analysis skills.

The admission requirements of medical schools may vary; however, generally, applicants will be required to provide the following:

  • Completed admission application
  • MCAT scores
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Official transcripts of a bachelor’s degree
  • A minimum GPA

Medical School

After completing your bachelor’s degree, you can apply for admission in a medical school. However, not necessarily do all medical schools offer pediatrics as a specialization. Medical schools generally offer the D.O. (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine) and MD (Doctor of Medicine) degrees. The coursework will integrate science and clinical knowledge to help students prepare for the healthcare field. The curriculum will typically entail courses such as the following:

Gross Anatomy Imaging and Embryology

The main purpose of this course is to provide students with an understanding of the basic human anatomy. Students will be required to participate in anatomical dissection classes.

Cell Structure and Function

This course will provide students with a thorough understanding of tissue types and cells. The course will cover various topics such as nature of genes, food molecules, metabolism, and structural components of the human body.

Biological Basis of Disease

In this course, students will learn how to identify and analyze different disease types, and understand how the immune system works. Some of the topics covered include disease process, pathogens, chronic inflammation, infectious organisms, immunology, and microbiology.

Principles of Clinical Medicine

This course will cover topics such as epidemiology, health organizations, health promotion, and occupational medicine. Students will acquire in-depth knowledge about drugs and medicine used for treatment and disease prevention.

Neuroscience and Behavior

The course is designed to provide students with an in-depth understanding of the human central nervous system. The course integrates psychiatry and neuroanatomical concepts within its structure.

Pediatric Clerkship

This part of the program is aimed at providing students with specialized knowledge in a certain field. Students who choose pediatrics as their specialization may go through a clerkship program. It is geared towards providing students with hands-on experience and training in pediatrics. The duration can last anywhere from 2-4 weeks, depending upon the institute.

Pediatric Residency Program

To practice as a physician in the United States, one must complete a residency program. Medical residency training is basically designed to provide physicians with practical experience and skills. During the residency program, individuals are required to work under the supervision of a senior physician.

In a pediatric residency program, students may learn the following:

  • Acquire exposure to general pediatrics
  • Work in pediatric wards, ICUs, and pediatric emergency units
  • Participate in research and physician-scientist training programs
  • Build strong case management skills

Medical Licensure and Certification

Individuals must have a medical license to practice professionally. The requirements of obtaining a medical license will vary slightly from state to state.

Certification is highly recommended for every medical sub-specialty field such as pediatrics. The American Board of Pediatrics is among the few leading certifying agencies in the nation. Individuals can take the certification examinations if they fulfill the basic eligibility criteria. This may include the following:

  • Graduation from a medical school
  • Completion of an accredited 3-year pediatric training program
  • Applicants must hold a valid medical license

Career Prospects

Pediatricians earned a median annual wage of $157,610 in 2013, according to O*NET OnLine and a median annual wage of $170,530 in 2013, according to U.S Bureau of Labor Stastics (BLS) respectively.


States with the highest employment level in this occupation:



Employment per thousand jobs

Location quotient

Hourly mean wage

Annual mean wage

California 16600.111.2618.1337720
Florida 11300.141.6817.9737370
Illinois 9600.161.9217.937240
Texas 7600.070.7816.6234570
New York 6500.070.8520.1241840


Frequently Asked Question(s)

Q:Where can a pediatrician work?

A:According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2013, pediatricians held approximately 30,890 jobs. These professionals help diagnose, prevent and treat children's diseases. Pediatricians can be found working in a range of work settings such as: outpatient care centers, offices of physicians, clinics, and hospitals. (Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics)

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