How to Become a Pediatric Radiologist in 5 Steps

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

What Does a Pediatric Radiologist Do?

Pediatric radiologists diagnose medical conditions in infants and children by studying diagnostic images. Prior to looking at diagnostic imaging, they may review at a patient's medical records to get an idea of what to look for. After they complete an analysis of a patient's records and diagnostic imaging, they write reports and discuss what they discovered with the patient's parents or guardians. More information for this career can be found in the following table:

Degree Required Bachelor's degree; Doctor of Medicine (M.D.)
Training Required Residency in diagnostic radiology and fellowship in pediatric radiology
Key Responsibilities Diagnose and treat children exclusively, utilize high-level medical technology, analyze diagnostic images
Licensure State medical license, voluntary certification in diagnostic and pediatric radiology
Job Growth (2014-24) 14%* (for all physicians and surgeons)
Median Salary (2016) $286,992** (for all radiologists)

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com

What Is a Pediatric Radiologist?

Pediatric radiologists utilize medical imaging to diagnose the diseases and injuries of children. O*NET OnLine reports that pediatric radiologists use a diverse range of technology, including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), nuclear medicine, ultrasound, X-ray, positron emission tomography (PET) and computed tomography (CT) to produce diagnostic images (www.onetonline.org). As a pediatric radiologist, you'll analyze these images to determine the best treatment plan for sick or injured children and infants.

Step 1: Go to College

The first step to becoming any kind of doctor is to attend college. Many colleges offer bachelor's degree programs in radiologic sciences. These programs tend to be for people who want to become a technician of one of the radiological tests. However, they do provide some of the necessary courses that you might find in an alternative pre-med program, such as chemistry, biology, anatomy, medical terminology, health assessment and pathology. Otherwise, consider a pre-med program.

Step 2: Take the MCAT

The Medical College Admission Test, or the MCAT, is an essential part of applying to medical school. This exam is offered by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) at testing centers across the nation (www.aamc.org). The multiple-choice exam tests you on your verbal reasoning, writing skills and knowledge of the sciences.

Step 3: Attend Medical School

You must first attend medical school to become a pediatric radiologist. A medical program trains you in medical sciences. In general, you'll learn how to be a physician with no specific specialty. Along with classroom lectures, you'll research case studies, practice medical scenarios and complete clinical rotations.

Step 4: Complete Residency and Fellowship

After medical school, you'll spend several years in a residency and fellowship. This is a time in which you gain firsthand experience at hospitals or clinics analyzing medical images and performing diagnoses. Some hospitals allow you to begin specializing in pediatric radiology, but for the most part you'll focus your time on diagnostic radiology.

After finishing a 4-year residency in diagnostic radiology, you must complete a 1- or 2-year fellowship in pediatric radiology. This time is spent mastering the diseases typical among children.

Step 5: Consider Becoming Certified

The American Board of Radiology offers optional board certification in both diagnostic and pediatric radiology (www.theabr.org). You must earn initial certification in diagnostic radiology prior to earning initial certification in pediatric radiology. Passing either exam certifies you for ten years. The certification exams, which question your knowledge and qualifications, are given over a computer.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

If your desire is to work with diagnostic imaging equipment and working with children and infants isn't necessarily required, you may want to also look at careers as radiologic and MRI technologists or a general radiologist. Requiring less education, radiologic and MRI technologists assist physicians by operating and maintaining the equipment used to make diagnostic images. General radiologists use these images to make diagnostic decisions, but aren't specialized in a particular area. It you like the idea of helping children become healthy and stay that way, you may want to consider getting an M.D. then completing a residency in general pediatrics. General pediatricians take care of the medical needs of children and infants.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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