Child Life Specialist

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There are many pieces to becoming a Child Life Specialist, including an undergraduate degree, specific child life related coursework, list of verified experiences, and other qualifications.  Use the navigation below to explore each aspect of preparing to become a Child Life Specialist.


  • What is a Child Life Specialist?
  • They work closely with children and families in medical settings and serve as emotional supports as well as helping to develop family coping strategies

    Most have a background in child development, psychology and counseling and are able to explain medical terminology to kids in preparation for procedures

    Their main goal is to decrease stress and anxiety in the hospital setting

    Mostly in hospitals with large pediatric departments and some can travel to schools to debrief staff about a child’s illness and their time at the hospital

    Find more information here:

  • Becoming a Child Life Specialist
  • Eligibility Requirement to take the certification exam:

    Obtain a baccalaureate degree (in any field of study)

    Must complete 10 college-level courses in child life of a related department/subject

         At least one child life course must be taught by a Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS)

    ALL of the following areas of study must be included in the course and verified by the instructor:
    Child Life Documents
    Scope of Practice
    Family-Centered Care
    Impact of illness, injury and health care on patients/families
    Therapeutic play
    Institutions offering Child Life courses can be found here:

    The remaining 9 courses must fall into one of three categories
    Any course offered by the college/university department below:

    Child Life
    Child Development
    Family Development
    Human Development (HDE)
    Family Dynamics
    Psychology (PSC)
    Sociology (SOC)
    Therapeutic Recreation
    Expressive Therapies (only courses covering the therapeutic applications of play, art, will be accepted; fine arts courses are NOT accepted

    Courses in the following departments will be considered case-by-case:
    Social Work
    Recreation Administration
    Education (Methods courses for specific subjects, student-teaching, are NOT accepted)
    Courses on these topics will be accepted regardless of college department
    Death and Dying
    Ethics (PHI 15-Bioethics)
    Medical Terminology (CLA 31-NEW)
    Anatomy and Physiology (EXB106/CHA101 and NPB101/110C)
    Cultural Diversity (Those pertaining to a single culture does not fall into this category)

    Here are the 2019 Academic Eligibility Requirements.

  • Experiences
  • Must complete a minimum of 480 hours of child life clinical experience through an internship or fellowship under direct supervision of a CCLS

    There is an HRI however you will need to do it for 12 quarters-not too reasonable

    It is an “Internship” but check with the institution if it is acceptable

    An internship for college credit does not count, however you do get transcript notation for an HRI, so check again with the institution to check

    More information for the eligibility requirements can be found:

  • Applying to be a Child Life Specialist
  • Once you have completed the eligibility requirements, you will create an account here:

    Pay a non-refundable fee for the Eligibility Assessment and then you will immediately enter in your eligibility information including coursework

    Once eligibility has been established, your status will be made “candidate” and you can proceed to pay a separate exam fee to register for an exam administration.

    The exam:

    Child Life Professional Certification Examination is an object test that covers knowledge, understanding and practical application of professional child life theory

    Comprised of 150 multiple choice questions over four hours

    Those with passing scores become certified for a five-year period

    You will need to recertify (

    More information here:

  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • More questions? Check out our FAQ page or schedule an appointment with an adviser!