How to Become a Child Life Specialist in 5 Steps

Child life specialists help infants, children and adolescents cope with staying in hospitals. Learn what education and training you'll need to succeed in this career. Schools offering Child Care Services degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Step 1: Research Child Life Specialists Duties and Education Requirements

Child life specialists work with hospitalized children and their families. In this position, you use play and self-expression activities to help children cope with challenges and provide both emotional and informational support to family members. You also work to educate caregivers, hospital administrators and the public about the needs of sick children. Understanding the demands that you need to undertake and being sure you're capable of working in such conditions is important before you embark on your education and training in this field.

Step 2: Earn Your Degree

According to the Child Life Council (CLC), child life specialists generally earn a bachelor's or master's degree in education, psychology or human growth and development (www.childlife.org). You may choose to complete a 4-year bachelor's degree program or a 5-year dual degree program in child life, human development, social work, child development or similar majors. The dual-degree program results in both a bachelor's and master's degree.

Step 3: Complete an Internship

Many hospitals offer internships working with children. These can provide valuable opportunities for hands-on experience. As an intern, you may assist an experienced child life specialist with assessing patient needs and preparing patients for hospital procedures. Internship application requirements may include current enrollment or completion of a related degree program. You may also need to satisfy specific coursework required to take the Child Life Specialist certification exam.

Step 4: Consider Certification

The only certification available in this field is the Certified Child Life Specialist credential offered by the CLC. Obtaining this credential can have many significant benefits such as validating your knowledge and skills as a child life specialist, preparing you for career advancement and increasing your salary potential. Application requirements include completion of a bachelor's degree program, ten college-level courses in child life or a related subject, 480 hours of clinical experience in child life and passing a certification exam.

Step 5: Find a Job

According to the Mayo School of Health Sciences, child life jobs are becoming more prevalent. Almost all children's hospitals in the U.S. have a child life department and staff (www.mayo.edu). A 2008 survey from the CLC reported that child life specialists with a bachelor's degree earned a mean annual salary of $38,870 while those with a master's degree earned a mean annual salary $41,479.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:

Popular Schools

  • DeVry University

    DeVry University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at DeVry University:

    • Bachelor Degrees
    • Associate Programs

    Online and Campus-Based Programs Available:

    View All Locations
    • Anywhere: Online Campus
    • Arizona: Glendale, Mesa, Phoenix
    • California: Alhambra, Anaheim, Bakersfield, Colton, Daly City, Elk Grove, Fremont, Fresno, Long Beach, Oakland, Oxnard, Palmdale, Pomona, San Diego, San Jose, Sherman Oaks
    • Colorado: Colorado Springs, Greenwood Village, Westminster
    • Florida: Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Miami, Miramar, Orlando, Tampa
    • Georgia: Alpharetta, Atlanta, Decatur, Duluth, Stockbridge
    • Illinois: Addison, Chicago, Downers Grove, Elgin, Gurnee, Naperville, Tinley Park
    • Indiana: Indianapolis, Merrillville
    • Maryland: Bethesda
    • Michigan: Southfield
    • Minnesota: Edina
    • Missouri: Kansas City, Saint Louis
    • North Carolina: Charlotte, Morrisville
    • New Jersey: Cherry Hill, North Brunswick, Paramus
    • Nevada: Henderson
    • New York: New York, Rego Park
    • Ohio: Cincinnati, Columbus, Dayton, Seven Hills
    • Oklahoma: Oklahoma City
    • Oregon: Portland
    • Pennsylvania: Fort Washington, King of Prussia, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh
    • Tennessee: Memphis, Nashville
    • Texas: Austin, Fort Worth, Houston, Irving, Richardson, San Antonio, Sugar Land
    • Utah: Sandy
    • Virginia: Arlington, Chesapeake, Manassas
    • Washington: Bellevue, Federal Way, Lynnwood
    • Wisconsin: Milwaukee
  • Ashford University

    Ashford University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Ashford University:

    Online Programs Available

  • Grand Canyon University

    Grand Canyon University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Grand Canyon University:

    Online Programs Available

  • Capella University

    Capella University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Capella University:

    • Doctoral
    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Penn Foster Career School

    Penn Foster Career School responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Penn Foster Career School:

    Online Programs Available

  • University of the Rockies

    University of the Rockies responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at University of the Rockies:

    • Doctoral
    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Southern New Hampshire University

    Southern New Hampshire University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Southern New Hampshire University:

    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Medaille College

    Medaille College responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Medaille College:

    • Bachelor Degrees
    • Associate Programs

    Online Programs Available

  • Colorado State University Global

    Colorado State University Global responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Colorado State University Global:

    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Saint Joseph's University

    Saint Joseph's University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Saint Joseph's University:

    Online Programs Available

  • University of Phoenix

    University of Phoenix responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at University of Phoenix:

    Online and Campus-Based Programs Available:

    View All Locations
    • Anywhere: Online Campus
    • Arizona: Mesa, Phoenix, Tempe, Tucson, Yuma
    • California: Bakersfield, Beale AFB, Chula Vista, Costa Mesa, Diamond Bar, El Centro, Fairfield, Fresno, Gardena, La Palma, Lancaster, Lathrop, Livermore, Murrieta, Oakland, Ontario, Palm Desert, Pasadena, Sacramento, Salida, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Jose, San Marcos, Visalia, Woodland Hills
    • Colorado: Colorado Springs, Lone Tree, Westminster
    • Columbia (D.C.): Washington
    • Florida: Ft Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Miami, Miramar, Orlando, Temple Terrace
    • Georgia: Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Sandy Springs, Savannah
    • Hawaii: Honolulu, Kapolei
    • Iowa: Des Moines
    • Idaho: Meridian
    • Illinois: Chicago, Schaumburg
    • Kentucky: Louisville
    • Louisiana: Baton Rouge, Metairie
    • Massachusetts: Braintree
    • Michigan: Detroit, Southfield
    • Minnesota: St Louis Park
    • Missouri: Kansas City, Maryland Heights, Saint Louis
    • Mississippi: Flowood
    • New Mexico: Albuquerque, Santa Teresa
    • Nevada: Henderson, Las Vegas
    • Oklahoma: Oklahoma City, Tulsa
    • Pennsylvania: Philadelphia
    • Puerto Rico: Guaynabo
    • Tennessee: Chattanooga, Cordova, Nashville
    • Texas: Arlington, Austin, Dallas, El Paso, Houston, Killeen, Mission, San Antonio, Spring
    • Utah: Clearfield, Salt Lake City, South Jordan
    • Virginia: Arlington, Glen Allen, Virginia Beach
    • Washington: Tukwila
    • Wisconsin: Milwaukee
  • Baker College Online

    Baker College Online responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Baker College Online:

    Online Programs Available

  • Kaplan University

    Kaplan University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Kaplan University:

    Online Programs Available

 More Schools