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 Pathway to becoming a Certified Child Life Specialist

​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
  • Psychology
  • Sociology

Consider taking additional coursework related to children, health, people skills, world cultures, diversity or kids with illnesses/disabilities.

Volunteer

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
kglass@edgewood.edu
608-663-4433

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) >