Job Analysis


In order for the results of the certification exam to be meaningful, the exam must be closely related to the job of a child life specialist; exam questions must reflect typical job responsibilities. A Job Analysis is conducted to determine the tasks a child life specialist performs and the knowledge/skills needed to perform those tasks competently. This allows test developers to convert job activities into a content-valid examination.

To learn more about the job analysis and why it's important, listen to Episode 2 of the #ChildLife Podcast.


The Child Life Professional Certification Program has been implemented to promote the protection of the public from entering into a therapeutic relationship with untrained individuals.  The Job Analysis is an essential step in safeguarding consumers as it is a methodology for defining the characteristics of an individual who has the capacity to perform competently.

A Practice Analysis is conducted every 5-7 years. This routine monitoring of changes in the child life profession helps protect the integrity of the exam and the credential it supports.  

The Practice Analysis


The product of the Job Analysis is the Exam Classification System which is essentially a very detailed job description which defines the scope of practice and includes the performance domains, task statements, and the knowledge and skills needed to perform the identified tasks.

The job of a child life specialist is broken down into very broad domains – professional responsibility, assessment, and intervention – which are used to differentiate the major types of activities performed by a child life specialist. Each of the domains is broken down further into task statements. 

In order to perform these tasks, the child life specialist must possess specific knowledge and skills. These are also defined in the classification system.  

  • The Job Analysis looks at increasingly more specific elements of the role of a child life specialist.  
  • If you possess the knowledge and skills identified, you should be able to perform the tasks that define each of the performance domains that are specified in the Exam Classification System.

  • A passing score on the certification exam demonstrates the presence of the required level of knowledge to successfully fulfill the role of a child life specialist.


To complete the Job Analysis, ACLP enlists the assistance of professional test developers. Our testing partner facilitates the process and offers advice in matters related to exam development and administration.

To start the Job Analysis Study, a panel of subject matter experts is assembled.  

The group uses the prior Exam Classification System as a starting point.

  • They discuss each item (about 250 on the most recent) to determine if it is still relevant and commonly required for or included in the practice of child life.
  • Then they answer the question, “Are there any tasks that are new since the last Job Analysis?”
  • They also discuss the education and training that would be needed for an individual to develop the knowledge and skills the panel determines are required for competent performance as a minimally-competent, entry-level child life specialist, all in order to gain a better understanding of any prerequisite training that would be needed.  

The panelists meet in person over the course of 2-3 days.

  • When the meeting is complete, there is a new draft Exam Classification System. 
  • Since this draft was developed by such a small sample of child life specialists (8-12 people), there is a need for a validation survey of a much larger sample of practicing child life specialists.
  • The survey is sent to thousands of child life specialists.
  • They are asked to review and rate each item as it pertains to his/her practice. 


At the end of each Job Analysis Study, we have examined the profession closely, defined the practice specifically, and ensured that the certification exam is job-related and based on the knowledge and skills needed to function in the role of a child life specialist.