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How to become a certified Child Life specialist

The certification process is managed by the Child Life Certifying Committee, a standing committee of the Child Life Council (CLC). Based in Arlington, Virginia, the CLC is the leading membership association for child life specialists and child life professionals. Child life specialists are certified by exam and the exam is offered three times each year. You must first establish eligibility to sit for the certification exam by fulfilling all of the requirements through the CLC's Eligibility Assessment. The Eligibility Assessment verifies your academic work and clinical training.

Academic work

The current academic requirement to establish exam eligibility is a minimum of a bachelor's degree. Your degree can be in a variety of disciplines; however, it is necessary to have a strong background in child development. It is also required to have a college-level course particular to child life that is taught by a Certified Child Life Specialist. In 2022, the minimum academic requirement will be a Master's degree with an emphasis in child life, and by 2025, incoming professionals will need a Master's degree in child life specifically. The CLC provides detailed information about necessary course requirements on their website.

Clinical training

There are two levels of clinical training in child life. The first is a child life practicum. The child life practicum is an introductory experience for individuals interested in pursuing a career in child life. Child life practicum students will enhance their knowledge of the child life profession and investigate the process of applying child life and developmental theory to practice under the supervision of a Certified Child Life Specialist. The child life practicum is not required by the CLC. The second clinical training is a child life internship. The internship is a time for students to apply their knowledge in the hospital environment and is a hands-on experience as students become independent in the assessments and interventions of a child life specialist. The child life internship is a requirement of the CLC and is a necessary step to secure eligibility to sit for the certification exam. Cook Children's offers both the Child Life practicum and Child Life internship programs. You can learn more about our student programs here.

If you would like to learn more about becoming a child life specialist, please consider attending the Child Life Workshop.

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