Pediatric Radiologist: Job Duties, Career Outlook, and Education Requirements

Research what it takes to become a pediatric radiologist. Learn about the job duties, education and licensure requirements, along with the job outlook to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Cardiovascular Sonography degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What is a Pediatric Radiologist?

Pediatric radiologists are highly specialized doctors who work on the diagnosis and treatment of childhood illnesses and injuries by utilizing advanced imaging equipment. They assess a young patient's medical history, review test results, and address concerns and questions that patients and their parents may have. Then, possibly with the help of technicians under their supervision, pediatric radiologists prep patients for X-ray machines and other imaging devices, conduct tests, and interpret results. Finally, they make a diagnosis and plan the treatment. Pediatric radiologists also deliver radiation treatment for children and teens affected by cancer. In addition to the rigorous requirements of being a doctor, these professionals must specialize in radiography and pediatrics. The table below provides some basic information for this career.

Degree Required Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) and specialized residencies
Education Field of Study Medicine, pediatrics, and radiology
Licensure State medical license, voluntary certification in pediatric radiology
Key Responsibilities Technological image analysis, diagnosis and treatment of children, management of treatment plans
Job Growth (2014-24) 14% (for all physicians and surgeons)*
Median Salary (2015) $411,852 for physicians practicing in medical specialties

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Might I Do As a Pediatric Radiologist?

Pediatric radiologists work in hospitals and clinics, diagnosing diseases and injuries in children, infants and young adults. As a radiologist, you'll receive images from diagnostic imaging procedures, such as X-rays, CT scans, ultrasounds and MRIs. After analyzing the images, you'll inform the child's parents and other physicians about your medical findings. You also might help determine and implement treatment plans.

What Education Do I Need?

To become a radiologist, you must earn a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) from an accredited institution. Most medical schools require you to complete a bachelor's program or take specific science, math and humanities courses before being admitted to their programs. You also will need to take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). A 4-year M.D. or D.O. program includes the study of anatomy, biology, physiology, genetics and human disease. You also will complete rotations, in which you'll treat patients in a clinical or hospital setting under the supervision of licensed doctors.

After you graduate, you must complete at least four years of a radiology residency program. During this time, you'll gain expertise in using various kinds of imaging technology, such as neuroradiology, cardiovascular imaging and abdominal imaging. Depending on the program, you might be allowed to specialize in pediatric radiology for some of your training.

What Licensing and Certification Do I Need?

Pediatric radiologists must be licensed to practice medicine. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), all states require doctors to pass the United States Medical Licensing Examination or the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Exam (www.bls.gov). You also can seek voluntary certification in pediatric radiology through the American Board of Radiology.

What Is the Career Outlook?

The Society for Pediatric Radiology (SPR) reports that there's a shortage of radiologists who specialize in pediatrics in the United States (www.pedrad.org). As of February 2012, the SPR reported that only 25-30 pediatric radiologists graduate from residency programs each year in the U.S., but the demand for these health services continues to increase. The BLS estimated that physicians and surgeons in general could see an increase in employment growth of 14% between 2014 and 2024.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

There are a large number of specialties a physician may go into aside from pediatric radiology. Some of the more common specialties include anesthesiology, which focuses on the alleviation of pain; family and general medicine, which focuses on common everyday conditions; psychiatry, which involves mental health care; and surgery, which treats illness and injury via surgical operation.

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