What Education Is Required to Be a Pediatrician?

Pediatricians work with patients from infancy through young adulthood. Read on to learn about pediatrician education requirements and how to become a pediatrician. Schools offering Health Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Pediatrician Education Requirements

Pediatricians are medical doctors who specialize in the health needs of babies, children, adolescents, and young adults. Most are general practitioners, but some specialize in treating more serious medical conditions or pediatric surgery. Aspiring pediatricians must earn a bachelor's degree, then attend medical school for a medical degree. Finally, they must complete a residency and then become licensed to practice medicine.

Required Degrees Bachelor's degree
Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.)
Prerequisites Science courses, such as biology, chemistry, and physics
Other requirements 3-year residency
Mean Annual Wage (2018)* $183,240
Job Outlook (2018-2028)* 2%

How to Become a Pediatrician

What Degree Does a Pediatrician Need?

Bachelor's Degree

A bachelor's degree is required for application to medical school. Degrees related to pediatrics are recommended, such as child psychology. Pre-med is also recommended. When planning their coursework, students should keep in mind that most medical schools will require that students have taken a certain number and type of science courses, such as chemistry, biology, and physics, to be eligible for admission.

Letters of recommendation are required for medical school applications, so students should cultivate relationships with their professors and others who could write these letters for them. Students should also take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) during their undergraduate study. Finally, students should consider participating in school groups and volunteer work in order to increase their chances of being accepted into a medical school. These activities should demonstrate the student's leadership abilities, desire to help others, and interpersonal skills.

Medical Degree

The next step towards a pediatrician career is to attend medical school and earn a medical degree. Students can earn either an M.D. or a D.O. Coursework and methodologies for an M.D. and a D.O. are similar, but D.O.'s take a more holistic approach to medical practice and place a greater emphasis on the musculoskeletal system and preventative care.

Most medical school programs are 4-year programs, with the first two years focused upon coursework and the second two years focused upon clinical experience. Coursework will include a thorough study of the human body at all levels, medical practice, patient care, and medical ethics. In the third year, under the supervision of physicians, students will care for patients and collaborate with other physicians in a variety of settings. Students will focus on their chosen career path in their fourth year.


The next phase of pediatrician training is the residency. Aspiring pediatricians are required to complete a three-year residency. The residency will generally be in a hospital setting. The subspecialties that residents can experience will depend upon the hospital. During their second and third year, residents may focus on their subspecialty.


Candidates must take a standardized national license exam to practice medicine in the U.S. M.D. candidates/graduates will take the U.S. Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE). D.O. candidates/graduates will take the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Exam (COMLEX-USA). Both of these exams consist of three parts, which are generally taken at three different times. The first two parts are generally taken while in medical school. The final part is typically taken during the candidate's residency.


Pediatricians should also consider becoming board certified through the American Board of Pediatrics. To take the General Pediatrics Certifying Exam, candidates must have graduated from medical school, completed a three-year residency, and possess a medical license. Pediatricians can certify in general pediatrics and in subspecialties, such as adolescent medicine, developmental-behavioral pediatrics, and pediatric endocrinology.

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