How to Become a Certified Lactation Consultant Online

Feb 24, 2020

The process for becoming a certified lactation consultant can be accomplished through a combination of online and in-person components, which includes education programs as well as the certification exam.

What Certified Lactation Consultants Do

Certified lactation consultants usually work in medical facilities where they assist new mothers with nursing their newborns. In some cases, lactation consultants lead their own breastfeeding classes, so it's important that they're able to communicate effectively with their clients. The steps involved in becoming a certified lactation consultant include a mixture of online and in-person aspects that will be further detailed in this article. The table below provides some general information on this career.

Required Skills Communication skills, patience, healthcare techniques
Job Growth* 10% for 2018-2028 (for 'all other healthcare practitioners')
Median Salary (2020)** $82,917 per year

Sources: *U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics; **

Steps Involved for Becoming a Certified Lactation Consultant Online

The following provides an outline of the resources that people can use to become a certified lactation consultant. While some of these can be completed online, a few of the elements, like clinical hours, will require the student to appear in person.

Step 1. Earn an Undergraduate Degree in the Health Sciences

The certification of lactation consultants is handled by the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners (IBLCE), and the process starts with completing a health sciences education program. The IBLCE requires persons to complete studies in 14 subject areas, which include biology, human anatomy, occupational safety, and nutrition, and there are certain acceptable education programs that cover the material. A few of the programs that are accepted include dentistry, dietetics, midwifery, and occupational therapy. These programs may be completely online or hybrid in nature, for example, a 120-credit Bachelor of Science in Dietetics is can be found in a 100% online format.

Step 2. Get Lactation-Specific Education

For this step, students will need to complete a 90-hour education program that focuses on human lactation and breastfeeding. In most cases, these programs can be completed online with no need to appear on campus, although some programs may require in-person presentations. Some of the topics that can be covered in these self-paced programs are the fundamentals of breastfeeding, infant anatomy, and consultant strategies.

Step 3. Complete Lactation Clinical Experience

This is the part of the certification process that requires individuals to appear in person. The IBLCE accepts three pathways for completing this experience, the first of which entails 1000 hours in an approved clinical setting, such as a hospital or community clinic. The second pathway requires a minimum of 300 hours while enrolled in human lactation and breastfeeding clinical program that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or its equivalent. For third pathway, students must complete at least 500 hours of supervised clinical practice while being mentored by a certified lactation consultant.

Step 4. Take the IBLCE Certification Exam

The application for the certification exam can be completed online where persons will be guided to choose from the approved examination centers. The IBLCE provides an online content guide that students can use to study for the four-hour long examination. The exam includes multiple-choice and response questions with examination dates in April and September. The results for the exam are generally available within three months and, if successful, persons will receive certification in another month.

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