If your career plan includes a desire to become a pediatrician, this rewarding profession would allow you to provide everyday care to children ranging from infants to young adults. It also gives you the option to specialize in helping children with heart issues, autoimmune disorders or other specific conditions. While this role can require a decade or more of rigorous training, the financial rewards are very good. As of May 2021, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported an average pediatrician salary of $198,420 annually.
A pediatrician's daily duties are like that of other physicians, except that they work with younger patients. For example, you'd give examinations, diagnose health conditions, prescribe medicines and other treatments, monitor patients with ongoing conditions and possibly perform minor operations. Your job as a pediatrician would also involve educating young patients and their families on living healthy lives and managing health problems, working with medical records, doing needed research and referring patients when they need specialists.
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While these duties describe the day of a general pediatrician, they can vary if you specialize. For example, if you work as a developmental-behavioral pediatrician, your work would involve diagnosing and helping kids with behavioral issues, learning disorders and developmental disabilities. As a critical care pediatrician, you'd exclusively help patients with serious injuries and health conditions.
Pediatrician Education Requirements
The BLS explains there's a long path to becoming any type of doctor, and pediatricians take even more time when they specialize.
You'd start with a four-year bachelor's degree that includes any prerequisite science and health coursework for medical school. You'd need to take the Medical College Admissions Test, apply to medical schools and get accepted to earn your Medical Doctor (M.D.) degree over another four years. Medical school will require clinical training at medical facilities.
After finishing medical school, you'd participate in a pediatrics residency of at least three years and possibly spend another three years completing a specialty pediatrics fellowship. You might also opt for pediatrics board certification after finishing your residency. You'll also need to pass the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination and complete the physician licensure process in your state before you can start your job search as a pediatrician.
How Much Do Pediatricians Make?
The May 2021 BLS data showed that the national median yearly pediatricians' salary was $170,480. However, the lowest-paid 10 percent of pediatricians earned under $75,670, while the best-paid 10 percent made over $208,000. The lower number may reflect the pediatrician starting salary that medical facilities pay during residency.
The medical facility type will also affect your compensation. For example, the average salary of a pediatrician was $203,690 at doctors' offices, $232,420 at outpatient care centers, $180,790 at general hospitals and $201,100 at specialty hospitals. However, higher education institutions only offered an average pediatrician salary of $84,810. Local governments offered a high $218,890 average wage but employed just 140 pediatricians.
You'll also want to consider geography, since the average pediatrician salary ranges from $91,350 in Puerto Rico to $297,280 in Montana. For example, pediatricians in California averaged $198,000, while pediatricians averaged $174,650 in New York and $264,190 in Texas. The highest-paying metro areas for pediatricians included cities such as Austin, TX; Santa Barbara, CA; and Charlotte, NC. Some of the lowest-paying metro areas included Columbus, OH; Oklahoma City, OK; and Jacksonville, FL.
Which Benefits Do Pediatricians Receive?
Along with earning a high pediatric salary, you can receive numerous benefits from the medical facility employing you. While they vary by employer, benefits often include health, dental/vision, disability and life insurance; paid vacation time and sick leave; retirement plans; and health-related savings accounts. The IRS lists additional possible benefits such as covered continuing education, transportation benefits, dependent care assistance and adoption fee assistance. You can inquire about these during your job interview.