Pediatricians specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of children and young adults. After completing their medical training, pediatricians must complete at least three years of residency training at a research hospital. Pediatricians can work in primary care or further their training in subspecialty fields, such as cardiology, rheumatology, infectious diseases and emergency medicine. The American Board of Pediatrics certifies pediatricians in general and subspecialty fields. To qualify for licensure and certification, pediatricians must fulfill basic education and residency requirements.

Education and Training

Pediatricians must complete their four-year medical training at an accredited institution. Prospective students should enroll into programs that have been accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, which is an accrediting body for all medical programs in the United States. Medical students receive clinical and classroom instruction, taking courses that include biochemistry, pharmacology, immunology, and anatomy and physiology. In their final year, medical student receive hands-on training in patient care through rotations in family practice, in obstetrics and gynecology, and in pediatric wards.


After completing medical school, pediatricians must enroll into a residency program at an accredited institution. Primary care pediatricians can compete their training within three years, but pediatricians seeking subspecialty training must spend an additional two to three years of training. Residency training for pediatricians includes lectures, patient care and independent research. Pediatrics residents can tailor their training to meet their specific needs. Under the supervision of licensed physicians, pediatrics residents receive training in acute care, pathology and primary care.


Like all physicians, pediatricians must be licensed to practice in all 50 states. Pediatricians must pass the United States Medical Licensing Examination, commonly known as the USMLE. The USMLE is a three-part examination that must be taken at different stages of a pediatrician’s training. The Federation of State Medical Boards administers the USMLE, which is designed to evaluate a candidate’s knowledge of fundamental patient care skills.


The American Board of Pediatrics certifies qualified candidates in primary care or subspecialty fields. To qualify for certification, pediatricians must fulfill their education and training as well as licensing requirements. Eligible candidates must take an examination, which is administered once per year. Pediatricians with a certificate in primary care are eligible to become certified in subspecialty fields. The board provides additional certifications in hospice and palliative medicine, medical toxicology, neurodevelopmental disabilities, and pediatric transplant hepatology.

2016 Salary Information for Physicians and Surgeons

Physicians and surgeons earned a median annual salary of $204,950 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, physicians and surgeons earned a 25th percentile salary of $131,980, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $261,170, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 713,800 people were employed in the U.S. as physicians and surgeons.