What Certified Lactation Consultants Do
Certified lactation consultants usually work in medical facilities where they can assist new mothers with nursing their newborns. In some cases, lactation consultants will 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 have a mixture on online and in-person aspects that will be further detailed in this article.
|Required Skills||Communication skills, patience, healthcare techniques|
|Job Growth*||18% for 2018-2028 (for healthcare practitioners)|
|Median Salary (2020)**||$82,917 per year|
Sources: *U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics; Salary.com
Steps Involved for Becoming a 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 are available online, a few of the elements like clinical hours will require the student to appear in person.
Step 1. Earn an Undergraduate Degree in Health Sciences Education
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. The IBLCE requires persons to complete studies in 14 subject areas which include biology, human anatomy, occupational safety as well as nutrition and there are certain acceptable education programs that cover the material. A few of the programs that are accepted are 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 often offered 100% online.
Step 2. Get Lactation-Specific Education
In 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 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 to earning this experience, the first of which entails 1000 hours in an approved clinical setting such as a hospital or community clinic. The second pathway includes 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. Where the third pathway is concerned, students must complete at least 500 hours of experience, 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 are exam are generally available within three months and if successful, persons will receive certification in another month.