Child Life Council
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Eligibility Requirements

The requirements for becoming certified are based on academic and clinical experiences, and successful completion of the Child Life Professional Certification Examination. In order to establish eligibility for the Certification Examination, candidates must meet the eligibility requirements prior to the exam application deadline. For additional questions pertaining to exam eligibility, read through a list of Eligibility Frequently Asked Questions.

Eligibility requirements are subject to change. See Upcoming Eligibility Requirement Changes for a list of changes that will go into effect in 2019.   Currently, the eligibility requirements are: 

I. Minimum of baccalaureate degree*

Applicants must have successfully completed a bachelor’s degree on or before the application deadline for the exam for which they are applying. Exam applications from candidates anticipating graduation are not accepted.

*This requirement will be changing.   A progression of steps has been outlined whereby effective in 2022, to establish eligibility for certification, candidates will be required to hold either a master’s degree* in child life OR a master’s degree* with a concentration or emphasis in child life (e.g. MS in Human Development & Family Studies with a concentration in Child Life) from an academic program that has been accredited by CLC.  Effective in 2025 this requirement will be amended to require that all certification candidates hold a master’s degree* in child life from an academic program accredited by CLC. A timeline  has been developed to help clarify these steps, and to assist those pursuing certification over the next few years to plan their academic path.

 Questions? Review a list of Baccalaureate Degree Frequently Asked Questions.


II. Course work

Applicants must have completed a total of 10 college-level courses in child life or a related department/subject* including a minimum of one child life course taught by a Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS). 

The required child life course must have a focus on children in the health care environment and must be taught by a CCLS. ALL of the following applied areas of study must be included in the course:

  1. Child Life Documents
  2. Scope of Practice
  3. Family-Centered Care
  4. Impact of illness, injury and health care on patients/families
  5. Therapeutic play
  6. Preparation 

 Note: The child life course taught by a CCLS must be documented through an online verfication process or via a Child Life Course Verification Form.

The remaining 9 required courses must fall into one of the following three categories: 

1) Any course that is offered by the college/university departments listed below will count toward the requirement. 

2) Courses offered by the following college/university departments will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Only those with a clear connection with the Exam Content Outline will be accepted. Candidates may be required to supply supporting documentation such as course descriptions or syllabi for courses from these departments. 

3) Courses on the following topics will be accepted regardless of college department: 

*Course work requirements will be changing effective in 2019. See Upcoming Eligibility Requirement Changes for more information.

Questions? Review a list of Course Work Frequently Asked Questions. 

III. Clinical Child Life Experience

All exam applicants must complete a minimum of 480 hours* of child life clinical experience under the direct supervision of a Certified Child Life Specialist. These hours can be completed through a child life internship or fellowship only.   Volunteer, practicum and paid work hours are not accepted. Clinical experience is documented by an online verification process or via a Clinical Experience Verification Form, signed by a supervisor from the internship or fellowship.

In order to be eligible to supervise an exam applicant’s 480 hours of child life clinical experience, a Certified Child Life Specialist must:

*The number of hours required will increase to 600 beginning in 2019. See Upcoming Eligibility Requirement Changes for for more information.


ATTENTION INTERNSHIP APPLICANTS: CLC recently developed a new Common Child Life Internship Application intended to simplify the application process for students. Rather than completing background information multiple times, applicants need only complete one form with the basics of their academic, prior experience, and child life interest information. All  prospective interns are responsible for contacting the programs to which they have interest in applying to ascertain if they are accepting the CLC’s Common Child Life Internship Application and to learn what additional materials must be submitted with the application for that specific program. For more information, please visit Common Child Life Internship Application

Questions? Review a list of Clinical Experience Frequently Asked Questions.  


Alternative Supervision Options

The Child Life Council recommends that a supervised clinical experience be completed in an environment in which the applicant has direct, daily contact with a Certified Child Life Specialist to allow for adequate supervision. Completing a placement in such an environment will allow for appropriate modeling and observation, which may increase the likelihood of an applicant's success on the certification examination.

However, the Child Life Council recognizes that under certain circumstances alternative mechanisms may be necessary to meet the child life certification clinical experience supervision requirements. This specifically pertains to individuals living in remote areas where there is not a Certified Child Life Specialist accessible, for example, those living in countries with no or limited numbers of Certified Child Life Specialists. In such cases, the student should have previously achieved a level of working knowledge and practice of the field and is responsible for locating a Certified Child Life Specialist willing to provide supervision, as outlined in the Supervision Option for Extenuating Circumstances .