People go into medicine for a number of reasons. There’s the obvious, of course. It’s a noble profession, where you help people each and every day. But becoming a physician also offers stability, fulfillment and challenges, and nothing exemplifies this more than the pediatrician.
Pediatricians have the unique opportunity to call kids their only patients, and for many of them, it’s hard to imagine a career more rewarding than one that makes a child feel better. Steve Goldberg, a Tucson pediatrician, explains on Catalina Pediatrics' site that, “kids are so genuine and spontaneous with their thoughts and feelings … it makes it so easy to go to work every day.” Jane Lloyd, another Tucson pediatrician, says on the same site, “how wonderful it is to share in the joy of a newborn's arrival; to celebrate with his or her parents the attainment of a child's physical, mental and emotional development.”
As with almost any physician, pediatricians often earn six-figure salaries. In 2011, the average salary was almost $169,000 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But location can affect your earning potential. Pediatricians in Nebraska, for example, earned the most in the nation, averaging over $217,000 a year. Those in Montana were a close second, making just over $216,000 a year. In West Virginia, the average wage was $127,450 a year -- the lowest in the nation, but six figures all the same.
There’s also a certain amount of job security that comes with this career. Not only do families tend to stick with the same pediatrician throughout a child’s youth, but the industry as a whole continues to grow. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says physicians and surgeons will experience an employment growth of 24 percent through 2020. This is much faster than the national average for all U.S. occupations, a projected 14 percent. Prospects should be even better for any physician willing to relocate to a rural or low-income area.
Pediatrics offers a great deal of flexibility, as well. For example, pediatricians have the opportunity to take positions in clinics, hospitals and children’s centers. They can choose to set up shop with other pediatricians and specialists, or break out in a practice all their own. As with many health fields, pediatricians can specialize in a certain branch of medicine within pediatrics, such as neurology, oncology, cardiology and critical care. Of course, specializing does require additional schooling, but you’ll likely earn a higher salary for your expertise.