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Child Life Specialist Certification and Certificate Programs

Get information on certificate programs and professional certification for child life specialists. Read on to find out about education prerequisites, required courses and career opportunities in this field.

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Essential Information

A certificate program in child life care is available to students already holding bachelor's or master's degrees in education, counseling, psychology or some other closely related field. Child life specialists help children with serious medical conditions grow into emotionally stable young adults. Certification is required and is currently administered by the Child Life Council. Upon completing the requirements for certification, the Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS) designation is earned.

A certificate program in child life care trains students to plan activities that help children find ways to express emotions they might not be able to consciously acknowledge. Coursework in the child life care certificate program covers methods of coping with these emotions so that they don't impact a child's overall well-being. Training is also provided on how to interact with parents, teachers and healthcare workers who have contact with the children on a daily basis. Students get practical experience through internships and fieldwork with children.

Educational Prerequisites

A bachelor's degree in a field such as psychology, education or counseling is the minimum educational requirement for entrance into a post-baccalaureate certificate program in child life care. Applicants will also likely have to submit scores for the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), letters of recommendation and a statement of purpose. Some universities request applicants interview with faculty.

Program Coursework

A certificate program in child life care can be completed in just over one year. Coursework includes an internship or field experience component that gives students an opportunity to gain hands-on practical experience in a controlled setting. Possible courses in this certificate program include:

  • Grieving processes
  • Child life administration
  • Pediatric educational interventions
  • Therapeutic interventions
  • Coping in a healthcare setting
  • The hospitalized child

Salary Information and Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (, a child and family social worker earns an annual median salary of $41,530 as of May 2012. The BLS also projects that the employment of all social workers will increase by 25% over the period from 2010-2020.

Continuing Education Information

Certification is required before beginning work as a child life specialist. Currently, the Child Life Council administers Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS) certification. Eligibility requires candidates have at least a bachelor's degree and have completed 10 child life courses or ten courses in a closely related area. Candidates must also have at least 480 hours of supervised clinical child life experience. The CCLS credential is awarded after passing an exam.

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