Pediatric Surgeon: Career and Salary Facts

Explore the career requirements for pediatric surgeons. Get the facts about job duties, education, licensure requirements and salary to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Surgical Technology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does a Pediatric Surgeon Do?

When an infant, child or adolescent needs an operation to treat an illness or injury, a pediatric surgeon will provide pre-operative care, execute the procedure and monitor recovery. They may provide a variety of different services for children, including surgical repair of birth defects, acute injury operations, diagnosis and removal of tumors, organ transplants and endoscopic procedures. In most cases, pediatric surgeons get jobs at children's hospitals, community hospitals and university medical centers, where they work in conjunction with a team of professionals that includes pediatricians, nurses and surgical technicians, to develop and implement appropriate surgical treatment strategies.

The following chart provides an overview about becoming a pediatric surgeon.

Degree Required Doctor of Medicine (M.D.)
Training Required 5-year surgery residency followed by 2-year pediatric surgery residency
Key Responsibilities Examine patients and diagnose health issues suitable for surgery; order pre-surgery tests and diagnostic tests and analyze results; perform surgical procedures to repair congenital problems, injuries or to treat disease and restore normal function; supervise child's recovery and advise parents about caring for their child
Licensure or Certification All states require doctors to be licensed; board certification in surgery and pediatric surgery is available
Job Growth (2014-2024) 14% for all physicians and surgeons*
Median Salary (2016) $255,473 for surgeons**

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), **Payscale.com

What Is a Pediatric Surgeon?

Pediatric surgeons are specialized doctors who provide care for adolescents, children, infants and fetuses. As a pediatric surgeon, you will consult with young patients and their parents in your office and communicate information regarding treatment. You will also provide comfort and reassurance in the hospital before the operation. Transplanting organs, repairing birth defects and removing tumors are possible surgeries you may perform as a pediatric surgeon.

What Education Is Required?

You must earn a Doctor of Medicine degree from an accredited medical school if you want to become a surgeon. A bachelor's degree or the completion of certain pre-requisite courses is required for acceptance into a medical degree program. You may earn any bachelor's degree, but the Association of American Medical Colleges recommends fields such as chemistry, biology and physics (www.aamc.org). When you choose a major, you should include a sufficient number of science, math and English courses in your class schedule.

Medical schools also require the completion of an extensive application, the submission of an essay and letters of recommendation, and a satisfactory score on the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). The MCAT focuses on problem solving skills and science curriculum studied in an undergraduate program.

A Doctor of Medicine degree will take four years to complete and should include courses in embryology, pathology, medical research, and microbiology. The last two years of study will include work in a clinical setting, assisting in the diagnosis and treatment of actual patients.

What Additional Training and Licensing Will I Need?

After graduating from medical school and becoming a doctor, you should apply for a residency position and complete seven years of work in a hospital environment. The first five years will include practical training in general medicine and surgery. You will specialize in pediatric surgery during your last two years in the program and will be supervised by a staff surgeon as you perform surgical procedures on children and adolescents.

To practice medicine in any state, you must be licensed. Physicians are required to pass the United States Medical Licensing Examination in order to receive a license. After completion of the residency program, you should also obtain board certification in pediatric surgery from the American Board of Surgery.

What Is the Job Outlook and Possible Salary?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the demand for surgeons is expected to grow by 14% between 2014 and 2024, due to the increase in population (www.bls.gov). Surgeons skilled in the use of new technologies will find more employment opportunities. Payscale.com reports that in 2016, the median salary for a surgeon was $255,473.

What Are Some Related Career Alternatives?

Not all surgeons specialize in pediatrics. For instance, after completing your residency, you could choose a specialization in a subfield, such as thoracic surgery, colon and rectal surgery or vascular surgery. Alternatively, if you want to work with children, you might choose a residency in pediatrics after medical school; after that, you could get a job as a generalist or choose to specialize in an area such as pediatric gastroenterology, sports medicine, cardiology or emergency medicine by completing a one- to three-year fellowship. Another option is a job as a pediatric nurse practitioner. These advanced practice nurses need a master's degree and a license in order to practice.

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