How to Become a Pediatric Surgeon in 5 Steps

How to Become a Pediatric Surgeon

Pediatric surgeons perform surgeries on children, from newborns to adolescents. Their training includes general surgery plus additional specialized training in pediatric surgery.

After completing a general surgery residency, pediatric surgeons must complete a pediatric surgery fellowship to specialize in treating young patients.

Effective communication with children and their families is essential for pediatric surgeons.

Pediatric surgeons must ensure a child-friendly, safe environment to alleviate the anxiety of young patients and their families.

Pediatric surgery is a highly rewarding field that presents significant emotional challenges due to working with young patients and their families.

5 Steps to Become a Pediatric Surgeon

Medical students follow a general medical curriculum before specializing in pediatric surgery through residency and fellowship programs.

Pediatric surgeons undergo extensive training to diagnose, treat, and manage surgical conditions in children.

How to Become a Pediatric Surgeon

How to Become a Pediatric Surgeon

How do you become a pediatric surgeon in the USA – Here are the 5 Main Steps

Step 1 – Earning an undergraduate degree

A bachelor’s degree is the first step to becoming a pediatric surgeon. During undergraduate studies, it is highly advised to choose a pre-med program.

You can also choose an alternate program that fulfills medical school admission requirements.

The pre-med course you choose should include science subjects, such as biology, chemistry, biomedical science, or another science-centric subject.

These pre-med courses should prepare you for medical school by teaching you:

  • Biology
  • Physics
  • Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Organic chemistry
  • Mathematics

Step 2 – Enroll in an accredited medical school

After earning an undergraduate degree, you must pass the MCAT and apply to accredited medical schools.

You must prepare and appear for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). You should prepare for the MCAT long before you graduate. The reason is that this entrance test is extremely challenging.

Next, you should search for medical schools that provide the medical education needed to become a pediatric surgeon.

You can enroll in a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) or an Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) degree course.

During medical school, students are taught coursework, have laboratory work and perform clinical rotations. This is an essential step in exploring the various avenues within medicine.

The curriculum usually includes studying different parts and systems of the body. For example, it may include learning about the respiratory and nervous systems.

During medical school, you would learn everything you need to know about:

  • anatomy
  • physiology
  • pathology
  • pharmacology
  • Patient safety
  • ethics
  • genetics
  • patient safety

Step 3 – Admission into surgical residency

Once you’ve passed medical school, it is time to complete a residency for surgeons. Aspiring pediatric surgeons need to apply for a residency program in general surgery.

Surgical residency programs involve clinical rotations across various surgical specialties to build comprehensive surgical skills. This is also necessary to teach the necessary skills to perform successful surgeries.

Besides clinical rotations, residency programs also offer research opportunities in your chosen field.

Step 4 – Enroll in Pediatric surgery fellowship

Pediatric surgery fellowships follow general surgery residency and typically last 2 years, focusing on pediatric-specific surgical training.

However, fellowships are vital to training in pre and post-surgical care of children.

During this time, students have opportunities to work in in-patient and out-patient wards and participate in research studies.

Enrolling in a fellowship for pediatric surgery is necessary to learn necessary surgical skills, such as:

  • Neonatology
  • Pediatric Oncology
  • Pediatric Radiology
  • Pediatric urology
  • Neonatal surgery
  • Pediatric surgical pathology

Step 5 – Get state licensure and board certification

If you wish to practice your craft as a skilled pediatric surgeon, you need to apply for state licensure and, if you have an M.D. degree, appear for the US Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE).

Board certification, while not legally mandatory, is a standard expectation and is often required by employers for practice in pediatric surgery. Getting certified by the American Board of Surgery (ABS) offers pediatric surgeons incredible employment opportunities.

Becoming a pediatric surgeon, including undergraduate education, medical school, residency, and fellowship, can take approximately 13-18 years.

How Much Do Pediatric Surgeons Earn

According to the latest United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for surgeons in the US ranges around US$ 229,300 per year.

This rate depends on various factors, such as the place of employment and state of residence.


Choose an accredited medical school to prepare for a career as a pediatric surgeon in the US. You will need complete commitment and drive to pursue this career.

However, the long years of training are rewarded well with a high-paying job at the end of your studies and training.

See Also

How to Become an Orthopedic Surgeon

How to Become a Cardiothoracic Surgeon

Best Nursing Schools in California

NRMP Match

How to Become a Dermatologist

Current Version
November 26, 2021
Written By
Shubham Grover
March 31, 2024
Updated By
Franco Cuevas, MD

Follow us