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At a Glance

  • Treat infants to young adult patients
  • Work in offices, clinics, or hospitals
  • Usually work more than 40 hours per week
  • Constantly work with medical staff and patients
  • Have a state medical license

Career summary

Pediatricians provide medical care for infants, children, teenagers, and young adults.

Pediatricians provide primary care and take care of children's general health needs. They ask parents questions to learn about their child's health. Like most doctors, pediatricians focus on preventing problems before they begin.

Pediatricians see their youngest patients for regularly scheduled visits called well-baby checks. At each check-up, they check the child's growth, weight, and development. They advise parents about immunizations and other ways to keep their children healthy. They educate their older children about exercise, hygiene, and eating healthy food.

Pediatricians examine patients and order lab tests. They explain test results and review treatment options with parents and the patient. If more than one treatment option is available, they help parents decide which option to choose. They also monitor the patient's condition and make changes in the treatment plan if needed.

For serious conditions, pediatricians refer patients to health care specialists for testing or treatment. Some pediatricians specialize in treating children with cancer or heart problems.

Pediatricians share similar tasks with other types of physicians, they:

Some pediatricians teach at medical schools. They may also do research on procedures and treatments for disease. Advances in medicine require pediatricians to update their skills regularly.

Related careers

This career is part of the Health Science cluster of careers.

Related careers include:

Military careers

Job duties

Task list

The following list of tasks is specific to pediatricians.

Common work activities

Pediatricians perform the following tasks. These tasks are common to many careers.

Work requirements

Working conditions

In a typical work setting, pediatricians:

Interpersonal relationships

Physical work conditions

Work performance


Physical demands

Pediatricians frequently:

It is important for pediatricians to be able to:

It is not as important, but still necessary, for pediatricians to be able to:

Skills and abilities

Pediatricians need to:


Reason and problem solve

Use math and science

Manage oneself, people, time, and things

Work with people

Work with things

Perceive and visualize

Education and training

Educational programs

The programs of study listed below will help you prepare for the occupation or career cluster you are exploring.

Programs of study directly related to this occupation

Other programs of study to consider


To work as a pediatrician, you typically need to:

Education after high school

To become a doctor, you must complete medical school. Medical schools grant a Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree or a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DOM) degree. You spend the first two years of medical school in classrooms and labs. You study anatomy, biochemistry, and medicines. You also learn how to take a medical history, examine patients, and make a diagnosis. During the next two years, you work in hospitals and clinics under the supervision of physicians.

You usually need a bachelor's degree to get into medical school. While you do not need to be a pre-medicine or science major, these programs are good preparation. If you earn a liberal arts degree, be sure to take courses in physics, biology, and chemistry.

On-the-job training

While in medical school, you spend two years working as an intern in a hospital or clinic. As an intern, you rotate through internal medicine, family medicine, obstetrics, oncology, and other hospital departments.

After medical school, you complete a residency program in pediatrics. Residency usually lasts four years. Residents usually work in hospitals. After your residency, you take additional exams to become board certified.

Military training

The military provides advanced training for doctors. However, it does not provide the initial training to become a doctor. Scholarships for advanced medical training are available in return for a required period of military service.

Helpful high school courses

In high school, take classes that prepare you for college. A college preparatory curriculum (external link) may be different from your state's graduation requirements (external link). You need a very strong background in math and science to become a doctor. Take as many math and science courses as you can.

You should also consider taking some advanced courses in high school. This includes Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses if they are available in your school. If you do well in these courses, you may receive college credit for them. Advanced courses can also strengthen your college application.

Helpful electives to take in high school that prepare you for this career include:

The courses listed above are meant to help you create your high school plan. If you have not already done so, talk to a school counselor or parent about the courses you are considering taking.

You should also check with a teacher or counselor to see if work-based learning opportunities are available in your school and community. These might include field trips, job shadowing, internships, and actual work experience. The goal of these activities is to help you connect your school experiences with real-life work.

Join some groups, try some hobbies, or volunteer with an organization that interests you. By participating in activities you can have fun, make new friends, and learn about yourself. Maybe one of them will help direct you to a future career. Here are examples of activities and groups (PDF file) that may be available in your high school or community.

Things to know

Many pediatricians begin work by joining a group practice or clinic. Some go to work for the hospital where they completed their residency.

The hiring process begins with a background check of the applicant. Employers evaluate past work experience and malpractice lawsuit records. The applicants are interviewed by several of the doctors from the facility they are applying to. Employers look for applicants with good communication skills. They look for pediatricians who can relate to many different people that come to the practice for care.

Some employers, especially government, may prefer bilingual applicants.

#King Co. job website 2/10/10 lh.

Costs to workers

Pediatricians who join professional associations may pay membership fees and annual dues. They may also attend courses, seminars, and workshops to update their knowledge and keep up to date on changes in their field.

Pediatricians who have borrowed money to pay school expenses have large debt payments for the first few years after graduation. The average debt for medical students who graduated in 2018 was $196,520 with 83% percent owing at least $100,000. Malpractice insurance is expensive. To enter private practice, practitioners must invest in equipment, office space, and staffing costs. Estimated costs range from $75,000 to $100,000 or more

#Updated debt info from American Medical Association website data Leo forwarded to me; updated malpractice figures from Medical Economics site: http://www.modernmedicine.com/modernmedicine/Modern+Medicine+Now/Exclusive-malpractice-survey-Holding-pattern/ArticleStandard/Article/detail/699489, (external link) 3/21/11, cj. No new data here yet--left as is. Lh 2/27/12. Updated debt info 3/17/15 with Oct. 2014 Fact card that Leo printed from AAMC.org/FIRST site, cj.

#Updated malpractice data from: http://medicaleconomics.modernmedicine.com/medical-economics/news/modernmedicine/modern-medicine-feature-articles/malpractice-premiums-continue (external link) and AMA debt info from: http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/about-ama/our-people/member-groups-sections/medical-student-section/advocacy-policy/medical-student-debt/background.page (external link) 4/11/13 cj. Updated debt info from AAMC First 2016 debt card linked to from this page https://students-residents.aamc.org/financial-aid/ 12/12/16 cj. Updated debt info 4/5/19 cj.



Pediatricians must be licensed by the State of Washington as either medical or osteopathic physicians. Licensing requirements include:

For more information on the US Medical Licensing Exam, call 215.590.9500 or go to the National Board of Medical Examiners (external link) website.

Osteopathic doctors must complete 150 hours of continuing education every three years and medical doctors must complete 200 hours of continuing education every four years.

Licensing fees vary ranging from $491 (medical physicians) to $391 (osteopathic physicians) for the application. The annual renewal fee for osteopathic physicians is $441 and the biannual renewal fee for medical physicians is $657. The combined fee for an application and state exam for osteopathic practitioners is $516. The licensing and the renewal fees generally include an access fee for health-related online library journals and publications and a Washington physician health program surcharge.

For more information on medical doctors, contact:

Washington Medical Commission (external link)
PO Box 47866
Olympia, WA 98504-7866

For information on osteopathic doctors, contact:

Washington State Board of Osteopathic Medicine and Surgery (external link)
PO Box 47877
Olympia, WA 98504-7865

#Checked licensing info, added CTW content, no changes to lic fees, 3/8/11, cj. Yeah lh 6/12. No change from what is in tag insert file, 4/16/13, 3/17/15, 12/13/16, 4/5/19 cj

Job listings

Listed below are links to job categories from the National Labor Exchange that relate to this career. Once you get a list of jobs, you can view information about individual jobs and find out how to apply. If your job search finds too many openings, or if you wish to search for jobs outside of Washington, you will need to refine your search.

To get a listing of current jobs from the WorkSource system, go to the WorkSource website (external link).


Pediatricians, general (SOC 29-1065)

Pay Period
Washington Hourly $46.51 $74.63 $88.33 $98.60 (1)
Monthly $8,060 $12,933 $15,308 $17,087 (1)
Yearly $96,730 $155,230 $183,720 $205,090 (1)
    Kennewick-Richland Hourly $46.83 $82.30 $89.82 $97.31 (2)
Monthly $8,116 $14,263 $15,566 $16,864 (2)
Yearly $97,405 $171,184 $186,811 $202,392 (2)
    Olympia-Tumwater Hourly $84.02 $87.55 $93.45 $99.35 (2)
Monthly $14,561 $15,172 $16,195 $17,217 (2)
Yearly $174,746 $182,108 $194,378 $206,647 (2)
    Spokane-Spokane Valley Hourly $80.98 $91.15 (2) (2) (2)
Monthly $14,034 $15,796 (2) (2) (2)
Yearly $168,438 $189,596 (2) (2) (2)
    Vancouver Hourly $53.30 $64.18 $86.53 $100.32 (2)
Monthly $9,237 $11,122 $14,996 $17,385 (2)
Yearly $110,866 $133,492 $179,983 $208,655 (2)
    Wenatchee Hourly $71.71 $81.00 $100.05 (2) (2)
Monthly $12,427 $14,037 $17,339 (2) (2)
Yearly $149,144 $168,470 $208,098 (2) (2)
    Yakima Hourly $69.06 $74.66 $84.19 $100.57 (2)
Monthly $11,968 $12,939 $14,590 $17,429 (2)
Yearly $143,650 $155,277 $175,115 $209,181 (2)
United States Hourly $33.11 $60.91 $82.00 (1) (1)
Monthly $5,738 $10,556 $14,211 (1) (1)
Yearly $68,860 $126,690 $170,560 (1) (1)

(1) Wages are greater than $90/hour or $187,200/year.
(2) Wage estimate is not available.

Wages vary by employer, years of experience, and hours worked. The doctor's skill, personality, and professional reputation also affect wages. Self-employed pediatricians generally earn more than those who are not self-employed.

Pediatricians usually receive benefits. Typical benefits include sick leave, paid vacation, health insurance, and a retirement plan. 

Employment and outlook

Washington outlook

The table below provides information about the number of workers in this career in various regions. It also provides information about the expected growth rate and future job openings.

Pediatricians, General (SOC 29-1065)

Location Current employment Growth over 10 years Annual openings
Washington 849 20.5% 16.1% 59
    Adams, Chelan, Douglas, Grant, and Okanogan Counties 16 -31.3% 13.4% 0
    Asotin, Columbia, Ferry, Garfield, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Stevens, Walla Walla, and Whitman Counties 29 17.2% 8.6% 1
    Benton and Franklin Counties 309 24.3% 15.0% 24
    Clallam, Jefferson, and Kitsap Counties 15 26.7% 11.9% 1
    Clark, Cowlitz, and Wahkiakum Counties 24 20.8% 15.2% 1
    Grays Harbor, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, and Thurston Counties 66 13.6% 14.1% 3
    Island, San Juan, Skagit, and Whatcom Counties 12 8.3% 14.6% 0
    King County 298 19.8% 19.6% 20
    Snohomish County 42 21.4% 12.4% 3
United States 31,700 2.2% 5.2% 1,000

National employment

Major employers:

National outlook

Growth for this occupation will be slower than average. Despite the increase in population, advances in technology allow more patients to be seen each day. Also more people see nurse practitioners and physician assistants.

Pediatricians who are willing to move to rural and underserved areas should have little trouble finding a job.

Other resources

American Academy of Pediatrics (external link)
345 Park Boulevard
Itasca, IL 60143
American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (external link)
5550 Friendship Boulevard, Suite 310
Chevy Chase, MD 20815
American Board of Pediatrics (external link)
111 Silver Cedar Court
Chapel Hill, NC 27514
American Medical Association (external link)
American Medical Association - Medical Student Section (external link)
American Osteopathic Association (external link)
142 East Ontario Street
Chicago, IL 60611
Aspiring Docs Website from the American Association of Medical Colleges (external link)
The Student Doctor Network (external link)
Washington Osteopathic Medical Association (external link)
PO Box 1187
Gig Harbor, WA 98335
Washington State Medical Association (external link)
2001 Sixth Avenue, Suite 2700
Seattle, WA 98121


Career cluster

Career path

O*Net (external link) occupation

O*Net job zone (external link)

DOT occupation

Strong Interest Inventory

Holland occupational cluster