Career Clusters: Health Sciences

What you need to know

What is a pediatrician?

Pediatricians are physicians that provide care for infants, children, teenagers, and young adults. They specialize in diagnosing and treating problems specific to younger people. Most pediatricians treat common illnesses, minor injuries, and infectious diseases, and administer vaccinations.

What does a pediatrician do?

A pediatrician’s day-to-day tasks look different based on where they work. Some pediatricians work in a hospital which can often require working long, irregular, and overnight hours. Other pediatricians run their own clinics and have additional responsibilities such as managing staff.

Some of the things a pediatrician might do in a day:

  • Assess and diagnose physical and psychological medical concerns of patients
  • Take a patient’s medical history
  • Update charts and patient information to show current findings and treatments
  • Order tests for nurses or other healthcare staff to perform
  • Review test results to identify any abnormal findings
  • Recommend and design a plan of treatment
  • Address concerns or answer questions that patients have about their health and well-being
  • Help patients take care of their health by discussing topics such as proper nutrition and hygiene

Watch this video to learn about some of the things our pediatrician role models do in their careers:

Pediatrician - What I Do
What skills are needed?
  • Communication skills: Pediatricians need to be excellent communicators. They must communicate effectively with their patients and other healthcare support staff.
  • Compassion: Patients who are sick or injured may be in extreme pain or distress. Pediatricians must treat patients and their families with compassion and understanding.
  • Detail oriented: Patients must receive appropriate treatment and medications. Pediatricians must accurately monitor and record various pieces of information related to patient care.
  • Dexterity: Pediatricians may work with very precise and sometimes sharp tools, and mistakes can have serious consequences.
  • Leadership skills: Pediatricians who work in their own practice must manage a staff of other professionals.
  • Organizational skills: Good recordkeeping and other organizational skills are critical in both medical and business settings.
  • Patience: Pediatricians may work for long periods with patients who need special attention. Persons who fear medical treatment may require more patience.
  • Physical stamina: Pediatricians should be comfortable lifting or turn disabled patients or perform other physical tasks. Surgeons may spend a great deal of time bending over patients during surgery.
  • Problem-solving skills: Pediatricians need to evaluate patients’ symptoms and administer the appropriate treatments. They need to do this quickly if a patient’s life is threatened.

Watch this video to learn more from our pediatrician role models:

Pediatrician | Skills To Develop
How much does a pediatrician make?

The average pay for pediatricians in the United States was $205,860 in May 2023 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

A pediatrician’s pay depends on factors such as level of experience, education and training, geographic location, and specific industry.

What is the career outlook?

Employment of pediatricians is projected to grow 1 percent from 2022 to 2033 in the United States according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is slower than the average growth rate for all occupations.

In 2021 there were about 35,900 pediatricians in the United States.

Prospects should be especially good for pediatricians who are willing to practice in rural and low-income areas because these areas tend to have difficulty attracting physicians.

How to become a pediatrician

You will need to complete the following schooling before becoming a pediatrician:

  • Bachelor’s degree
  • A degree from a medical school, which takes 4 years to complete
  • 3 to 7 years in internship and residency programs.

Some popular pre-med Bachelor’s Degrees are Biology, Chemistry, or Sociology. Once you’ve received your Bachelor’s Degree, you will need to apply to medical school to become a pediatrician. 

Medical schools are highly competitive. Most applicants must submit transcripts, scores from the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), and letters of recommendation. Schools also consider an applicant’s personality, leadership qualities, and participation in extracurricular activities. Most schools require applicants to interview with members of the admissions committee.

You will spend most of the first 2 years of medical school in laboratories and classrooms, taking courses such as anatomy, biochemistry, pharmacology, psychology, medical ethics, and in the laws governing medicine. You will also gain practical skills; learn to take medical histories, examine patients, and diagnose illnesses.

During your last 2 years, you will work with patients under the supervision of experienced physicians in hospitals and clinics. Through rotations in internal medicine, family practice, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, psychiatry, and surgery, you will gain experience in diagnosing and treating illnesses in a variety of areas.

Watch this video to learn more from our pediatrician role models:

Pediatrician | Education