To become a Certified Child Life Specialist, you must pass the Child Life Professional Certification Examination, which is offered by the Association of Child Life Professionals 3 times per year. There are multiple steps that must be completed before a candidate is eligible to register for the exam. These steps will be described in detail below.

Clinical Experience:

  • Volunteer – Before you are able to apply for a practicum or internship experience, you must complete at least 100 volunteer hours supervised by a Certified Child Life Specialist. While 100 hours is the minimum, most successful candidates have completed many more hours.
  • Practicum – A practicum is not required for certification, but it is highly recommended and required for acceptance to many internship programs. A practicum is an observational experience, typically between 100-200 hours, and allows the student to be directly involved observing a CCLS provide child life interventions. This is different from volunteering because you are able to actually see child life interventions.
  • Internship – A 600-hour, unpaid experience where the candidate observes then implements a wide range of child life services with increasing independence until fully independent and able to provide child life services.

Educational Experience:

  • Before taking the certification exam, the candidate must complete a minimum of a bachelor’s degree. This degree can be in its final semester during the child life internship, but all required courses must have already been completed.
  • There are 10 courses that all child life students must successfully complete. They are a minimum of:
    • 1 child life course taught by a CCLS
    • 2 child development courses
    • 1 family systems course
    • 1 play course
    • 1 loss/bereavement or death/dying course
    • 1 research course
    • 3 additional courses in related areas
  • To ensure that already completed courses meet the stated requirements, it is recommended that child life students seeking certification submit an eligibility assessment before the conclusion of their period of study. The eligibility assessment is a required part of the internship application processes as well as registering for the certification exam. Once the original eligibility assessment application fee is paid, a candidate may continue submitting courses for eligibility without an extra fee.

For more information on the child life profession, please visit the Association of Child Life Professionals at www.childlife.org.