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Pediatric Cardiologist: Job Description & Career Requirements

Learn what pediatric cardiologists do. Find out the education and training required to become one. See what the career outlook is to determine if this career is right for you.

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Career Definition

A pediatric cardiologist specializes in treating congenital or acquired heart conditions or disease in children and infants, including diagnosing and treating infants who are still in the womb. Pediatric cardiologists may be required to work long hours and be on call much of the time. Pediatric cardiologists primarily work in hospitals and universities, but may also work in clinics or their own private practice.

Become a Pediatric Cardiologist

Required Education

After receiving a bachelor's or master's degree in a science-related field, the aspiring pediatric cardiologist must pass the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) to be accepted into medical school. Medical school typically takes four years; graduates then complete a 2- or 3-year residency, followed by a 2- or 3-year fellowship in pediatric cardiology. Each state has different licensing requirements for physicians in general; an examination is also required to practice as a board-certified pediatric cardiologist.

Required Skills

For a successful career in pediatric cardiology, one must sincerely care for children and have the ability to communicate well with them and their families. Physical and intellectual stamina is also necessary to complete the training requirements and cope with long work hours. A pediatric cardiologist is typically only one member of a child's healthcare team, so the ability to work well with other professionals is vital.

Career and Economic Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov) states that the employment outlook for physicians and surgeons in general is favorable, especially for those who specialize, such as pediatric cardiologists. The BLS projects the rate of employment growth for physicians and surgeons to be 24% between 2010 and 2020. The BLS places the mean annual income for specialized physicians and surgeons at $184,820 (May 2012).

Alternate Career Options

Physician Assistant

Physician assistants provide medical care to patients; they earn a master's degree in physician assisting and earn a state license to work under the supervision of a licensed physician. Physician assistants can examine patients, diagnose illness or injury, and provide treatment, including write prescriptions. They may work in an area of medical specialty, depending on the area of medicine in which their supervising physician practices. Physician assistants can expect job growth of 30% from 2010-2020, per the BLS. The average annual salary of physician assistants was $92,460 in 2012, also per the BLS.

Registered Nurse

Registered nurses provide hands-on medical care: they record patients' health histories and vital signs, administer prescribed medications and treatments, observe and report on patients' conditions, and educate patients about self-care. Aspiring registered nurses may complete an approved diploma, associate's degree or bachelor's degree program and then sit for the National Council Licensure Examination, or NCLEX-RN. State licensing requirements vary. Specialized certification is also available. Jobs for registered nurses are expected to increase 26% from 2010-2020, per the BLS. The agency also reports that registered nurses earned a mean salary of $67,930 in 2012.

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