Outgoing, friendly and motivated are common traits of a Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS).
CCLSs are professionals who are comfortable around children of all ages and genders. They adapt and think outside of the box. CCLSs feel comfortable in a medical setting, including being present during procedures.
Three steps to becoming a CCLS
1. Minimum of Bachelor's Degree
In 2022, you'll need a master's degree in Child Life or a master's degree with a concentration or emphasis in Child Life (Example: MS in Human Development & Family Studies with a concentration in Child Life) from a program accredited by Association of Child Life Professionals (ACLP).
In 2025, you'll need a master's degree in Child Life from an academic program accredited by ACLP.
2. Related coursework
Complete 10 college-level courses in Child Life or a related department/subject:
- (1) Child Life – must be taught by a CCLS
- (2) Child Development – must cover growth/development from birth to 18 years
- (1) Family Systems
- (1) Therapeutic Benefits of Play
- (1) Loss/Bereavement of Death/Dying
- (1) Research
- (3) Additional courses in Child Life or related content area (Human Anatomy/Physiology; Medical Terminology; Ethics)
3. Clinical experience (internship)
Child Life internships provide hands-on experience and prepare you for certification.
Learn about our internship opportunities
View eligibility requirements at ChildLife.org
For high school students
Begin preparing for a Child Life profession.
Work with your high school counselor to select classes related to Child Life:
- Child Development
- Foreign Language
- Health Careers or Health Professions
- Home Economics (Family and Consumer Science)
- Human Development
- Interpersonal Communications
Consider taking additional coursework related to children, health, people skills, world cultures, diversity or kids with illnesses/disabilities.
Contact volunteer services at your local hospitals to see if they have pediatric opportunities.
There also are camps offering volunteer opportunities near Marshfield:
Volunteer work with healthy children is just as important. Consider after-school programs, day care, Boys and Girls Club or similar experiences.
For incoming or college students
Edgewood College (Madison, Wis.) offers a Child Life degree or closely-related field.
Major: Child Life (Department of Education)
Katie Glass, M.Ed., CCLS
Program Director/Faculty, Child Life Program
Child Life Program Edgewood College
School of Education Office Der. 226
1000 Edgewood College Drive
Madison, WI 53711-1997
Specific coursework in Child Life helps prepare you for your internship and certification.
View additional Child Life academic programs (ACLP PDF) >