What is a Pediatric Oncologist

A pediatric oncologist is a specialist in the health care industry that focuses on diagnosing and treating childhood cancers; specifically, they work with infants, children, adolescents, and young adults in order to help understand and improve their conditions. Pediatric oncologists are also trained as hematologists, and so work as well with disorders or diseases of the blood in young people.

Work Environment

The vast majority of pediatric oncologists work in hospitals, or in medical clinics specifically devoted to the treatment of cancer patients. This is due in part to the complex nature of cancer treatments, and the need for physicians from many different branches of medicine.

The work itself takes place in a clean and comfortable environment, however it can be quite emotionally and mentally challenging. Working with young children with cancer means that many will be severely weakened, and there is a definite possibility of patient mortality. However, the work can also be exceptionally rewarding, with many patients recovering and going on to lead fruitful lives.

Work Schedule

The work schedule of a pediatric oncologist is quite variable, but often requires more than 50 to 60 hours per week. From rounds in the hospital to meeting with patients to administering various treatments, it is a busy life. As well, the possibility of emergency care required means a great deal of time on call, or being called in to work at odd hours.

Pediatric Oncologist Job Outlook and Prospects

The overall job outlook for medical fields stands at 18 percent between 2012 and 2022, but pediatric oncology is expected to be even more promising, with an anticipated 22 percent growth over the same period. This is due to several factors, including the aforementioned overall growth in medicine, as well as to new research into childhood cancer (and the drive for further research), and due to the increase in overall incidence of pediatric cancers among the population. As well, recent changes in Federal policy regarding health insurance have made it possible for more people to receive treatment.

Pediatric Oncologist Salary: Factors and Influences

Pediatric oncologists can expect to have a salary averaging around $200,000. This is somewhat lower than the average for all specialists, in part due to the lower demand for pediatric oncologists at present (though this is expected to rise, as will salaries).

The salary for a pediatric oncologist is affected by numerous factors, including any sub-specialization they may have, their overall level of experience, and the geographic location in which they work. To a lesser extent, the education they may have can help increase wages, as can the industry worked, though options in the latter case are limited.

Education and Specialization 

The education required to become a pediatric oncologist involves eight years of post-secondary training, comprised of a bachelor’s degree followed by a medical degree. After this, one must engage in a residency in pediatrics lasting three to four years, and then complete a one- to three-year fellowship in pediatric oncology/hematology.

While the process to become a pediatric oncologist is a long one, the education involved can have some affect on a salary. The more prestigious the program taken, for example, the more likely one is to receive a higher wage at the outset. Similarly, a more intensive residency and/or fellowship can bring higher earnings.

Sub-specialization is a more lucrative area for consideration, with great potentials for salary gains. A focus on pediatric neuro-oncology, retinoblastoma, or hemato-oncology can all bring commensurate wage gains due to the need for qualified professionals with an expertise in these fields, and the need for further research.

Experience and Position 

Experience is a major factor affecting the salary of a pediatric oncologist. A starting salary can range from around $90,000 to $105,000, while one who has worked for ten or more years can see salaries closer to $200,000 and above.

Position is less of a factor for pediatric oncologists; generally they work within an oncology or pediatric care department, and while may receive a promotion, there are fewer positions open for them.


Industry can have a minor to moderate affect on pediatric oncologist salaries, with those working in a general medical hospital earning an average of $170,000, while those in a specialty hospital or clinic seeing wages of $180,000-$198,000, on average.


The location worked is the most significant factor for pediatric oncologist wages other than experience. Those working in Mississippi will earn the highest wages, at around $225,000. Oklahoma follows, at $221,000, and South Dakota is in third position at $216,000.