What is a Pediatrician

The word pediatrics is derived from two Greek words which essentially means healer of children. A pediatrician (also known as Paediatrician, General Pediatrician, Pediatrist, and Primary Care Pediatrician) is a primary care physician who specialize in diagnosing and treating infants, children, and adolescents. They work both on preventative health care for healthy children, and on medical care for acute or chronically ill children. They focus on the child from birth often to as late as 21 years of age; helping to reduce infant mortality, control infectious disease, and foster healthy lifestyles.

Work Environment

Pediatricians work in a range of environments and settings. Nearly forty percent of pediatricians work in a suburban area, with around thirty percent working in urban areas and ten percent working in rural regions.

The environment is similar to an office; pediatricians often set up group practices with other physicians. They consult with other specialists, and tend to work with others for the health of the patient. There are some pediatricians, though, who set up individual practices, preferring to work on their own.

Nearly one quarter of pediatricians work in a hospital environment; generally these are pediatricians with sub-specialties.

Work Schedule

The schedule for a pediatrician depends on the setting and environment, however, for those working in a hospital, the day begins with rounds to check on newborns and sick children. The workday for most pediatricians then runs from 8:30 or 9:00 until 5:00. This time will be divided between sick children (those with ear infections, eczema, and the like) and well child care, which refers to aspects such as checkups and vaccinations. A typical week involves 50 to 60 hours of work, with an average of 127 patients. Pediatricians also often have often on call during after hours, hence can be expected to work evenings, weekends and holidays.

Mean Annual Pediatrician Salary

Pediatricians are very well compensated for the services they provide, average around $167,640 as of 2013. Lowest 10% of this occupation makes less than $86,900 and the top 10% makes well over $250,000.

Pediatrician Salary: Quick Summary

2012 Mean Salary$167,470 per year
$80.59 per hour
Top 10% Salarymore than $250,000 per year
more than $120.20 per hour
Bottom 10% Salary$86,900 per year
$41.78 per hour
Number of Jobs, 201230,560

Pediatrician Job Outlook and Prospects

Pediatrics has fairly standard job prospects, with the highest opportunity being in the more populous states; California, Texas, and Massachusetts top the list, along with New York and Ohio, as employing the greatest number of pediatricians.

Future prospects also appear favorable; the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes regular studies on the need for pediatricians, with predictions of a 24% growth, or 29,640 jobs between 2010 and 2020. Hospitals are also increasing employment in specialized pediatrics.

Salary Analysis

Pediatrician’s salary prospects are affected by many factors. There are a great number of pediatricians currently in the United States, as it is a health care position that statistically has higher rates of job satisfaction. However, there is a consistent need for pediatricians, as there will always be more children. A starting pediatrician’s salary generally averages $130,000 per year. This will improve with specialization and greater hours worked, as well as experience in the field; experienced pediatricians typically average $175,000 or more per year. Overall, the mean pediatrician salary in 2012 was $167,640.

Education and Specialization 

Pediatricians take part in standard medical training (ie Bachelor’s degree, followed by a medical degree). They then engage in a three year residency program, emphasizing whole infant, child, adolescent, and young adult care. Longer residency programs will result in greater experience, and thus a higher salary.

Pediatricians can also engage in subspecialties in a number of different areas, including adolescent medicine, neonatal/perinatal medicine, endocrinology, emergency/critical care medicine, etc. Specialization will improve pediatrician salary.

Experience and Position 

Extensive knowledge and experience is required for pediatrics. The more focused and specialized a pediatrician’s experience and skill set is, the better a pediatrician’s salary will be. Therefore, the standard three-year residency will only yield a starting wage. A focus on a particular sub-specialty is recommended, and following this, the salary will rise commensurate with on-the-job experience.


The greatest indicator of the pediatric industry is one of demographics. A large practice can anticipate greater profitability, both through higher demand (and thus health care reimbursement rates) and through leveraged costs of staff and administrative equipment. A small practice, however, allows a doctor more control, and more personalized service. In general, working for an outpatient care center or in the office of a physician will provide the highest paying positions. Lowest pediatrician salaries are found in universities, colleges and surgical hospitals.


Pediatricians are needed in every location that has a population. Rural, suburban, and urban areas all require pediatricians, though there will be a greater demand in urban areas; that being said, there is a greater need for pediatricians in rural areas, as the majority tend to move toward urban ones. The closer the pediatrician works to an urban center, the higher the salary will be, however hospitals with an overabundance of pediatricians will result in a lower salary; the highest paying position needs to strike a balance between these two regions.

The highest paying pediatrician positions reflect this population balance; Mississippi, Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Oklahoma all have an average wage above $200,000, with Mississippi leading this at $217,870.