Child Life Specialist Certification and Certificate Programs

Child-life specialist certification programs prepare students to work with ailing children and their families, through direct-interaction internships and courses discussing therapeutic methods and communication.

Essential Information

Certification programs in child-life care are offered by the Child Life Council and confer the designation of Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS). These programs are only open to individuals with bachelor's or master's degrees in education, counseling, psychology and other related fields.

As child-life specialists help youth with serious medical conditions grow into emotionally stable individuals, students are taught how to plan emotion-expression and coping skills activities to maintain well-being. They also learn how to interact with parents, teachers, healthcare workers and all others who have contact with a child on a daily basis. Practical experience is gained through internships and fieldwork with children. Programs can be completed in just over one year. In addition to an educational background in the area, applicants must submit Graduate Records Examination (GRE) scores, letters of recommendation and a statement of purpose. Some universities request an interview with faculty.

  • Prerequisites: Bachelor's degree in associated field, GRE scores, letters of reference, personal statement, faculty interview for some programs
  • Program Length: A year or more
  • Other Requirements: Completion of a practicum or internship

Child Life Specialist Certification

Classes in a child-life certification program cover various multi-discipline topics, like medicinal, psychological and educational issues. Examples of common courses are:

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

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a child and family social worker earns an annual mean salary of $46,180 as of May 2014. Employment for all social workers is predicted to grow at a rate of 12% over 2014-2024.

Continuing Education Information

Additional eligibility details for the Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS) designation by the Child Life Council are: 10 undergraduate child life courses or 10 courses in a connected area, 480 hours of supervised clinical experience and the passing of an exam.

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