General Pediatrician: Salary and Career Facts

Explore the career requirements for general pediatricians. Get the facts about job duties, salary, job growth and licensure requirements to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Health Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a General Pediatrician?

A general pediatrician is a medical doctor who specializes in the care of children of all ages, from infants to young adults. They provide preventive care and monitor physical development and mental wellness over the course of infancy, childhood and adolescence. For children who have acute or chronic medical conditions, they provide a diagnosis and develop a treatment plan. They usually have particular expertise in common childhood conditions like infectious diseases and minor injuries. General pediatricians commonly work in family doctor's offices and children's hospitals.

The following chart provides an overview about becoming a general pediatrician.

Degree Required Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O)
Training Required 3-year residency
Licensure or Certification Doctors are required to be licensed in all states; board certification in pediatrics is available
Key Responsibilities Provide well-baby and child medical care for infants, children and adolescents; examine patients and assess health issues; administer vaccinations and prescribe medication and treatments; treat childhood injuries, illnesses and diseases
Job Growth (2018-2028) 2%*
Median Salary (2018) $170,560*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

What Does the Job of a General Pediatrician Involve?

As a general pediatrician, you'd handle responsibilities comparable to those of a primary-care physician for adults. One of your responsibilities would be to conduct physical examinations for patients, taking their medical histories into consideration. Other duties could include performing general diagnostic tests or referring patients to clinics for specialized testing. You'd be responsible for interpreting the tests, making diagnoses and prescribing medical treatments, as well as referring patients to specialists as necessary.

Because pediatricians treat conditions specific to children, you might tend to a lot of short-term health conditions, such as minor injuries or infectious diseases. Your practice might focus on preventative health duties, such as administering immunization shots and overseeing the general health of growing children.

How Can I Become a General Pediatrician?

To become a pediatrician, you need to undergo extensive education and training. First, you need to obtain a 4-year undergraduate degree and complete premedical coursework in chemistry, biology and physics. You might find it helpful to participate in extracurricular activities to demonstrate your personal traits and time-management skills. Toward the end of your undergraduate education, you can begin the process of applying for medical schools. This involves submitting Medical College Admission Test scores, college transcripts and letters of recommendation.

Upon acceptance to medical school, either through a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O) program, you'll spend your first two years taking basic science courses and your last two years completing clinical rotations in different medical specialties. After graduating, you'll need to earn your medical license and enter a 3-year residency program in pediatrics.

How Do I Begin to Practice Medicine?

To begin practicing as a general pediatrician, you're required to obtain a medical license. To become licensed, you need to take the United States Medical Licensing Examination or the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Exam, depending on whether you have graduated from an M.D. or D.O. program, respectively.

You also might earn optional board certification through the American Board of Pediatrics ( or American Osteopathic Board of Pediatrics ( To obtain certification, you'll need to have graduated from an accredited medical school, obtained a medical license and completed at least three years of a residency program in pediatrics. Once you meet these eligibility requirements, you can take the appropriate exam to become certified. After you become certified, you'll need to engage in lifelong learning, periodically pass a recertification exam and meet other requirements to maintain your certification.

What Could I Earn as a General Pediatrician?

The median annual salary for general pediatricians was $170,560 in 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Your salary can vary depending on the state in which you work. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Alaska was the top-paying state for pediatricians in 2018, compensating them a mean salary of $268,010 annually. Your salary can also vary by industry. Pediatricians who worked in physician offices earned a mean salary of $188,980, while those who worked in outpatient care centers earned $198,680.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Rather than pursuing a career as a generalist, some pediatricians choose to specialize in a particular area of childhood medicine, such as pediatric cardiology, pediatric critical care or pediatric endocrinology. It is important to note that, in addition to completing a residency program, pediatricians who want to become specialist must also complete a one- to three-year fellowship in their area of interest. Alternatively, doctors may want to choose to practice a different branch of medicine, such as internal medicine, anesthesiology, psychiatry or dermatology, among other options. The length of the residency varies depending on the specialization that the doctor chooses.

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