The Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS) credential is the exclusive certification issued by the Association of Child Life Professionals.  The CCLS credentialing program is a rigorous, examination-based professional certification credential to increase the proficiency of child life professionals by identifying a body of knowledge; establishing a level of comprehension and performance necessary for certification; and increasing the value of practitioners to their employers. Although not required for certification, interested individuals may elect to pursue a graduate degree in child life. At this point in time, a master’s degree is the terminal degree for child life professionals.

The Certification Cycle

Pursue Certification

Individuals wishing to become certified must meet specific academic and clinical experience requirements in addition to passing the Child Life Professional Certification Exam. 

Maintain Certification

For the first four years of the certification cycle, Certified Child Life Specialists have an annual maintenance requirement.


Recertification occurs in the fifth year of the certification cycle. Individuals can recertify by earning PDUs or by re-taking the Child Life Professional Certification Examination.

Frequently Asked Questions

Visit our Certification FAQ page to get answers to questions regarding all parts of the certification cycle. Get answers to questions regarding academic degrees, coursework, clinical experience, the exam, and recertification.

Certification FAQs

Why Become Certified?

There are many benefits associated with becoming a Certified Child Life Specialist:

  • Professional Identity -- Earn the exclusive right to identify yourself as a Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS), the only credential issued in the child life profession.
  • Recognition -- Achieve formal acknowledgement of your professional accomplishment.
  • Advancement -- Benefit from enhanced career opportunities, with the potential for increased salary.
  • Respect -- Improve your credibility by validating your specialized knowledge and expertise to peers, management and other interdisciplinary colleagues.
  • Growth -- Dedicate yourself to continued professional excellence through education and professional development.
  • Passion -- Demonstrate your commitment to the child life profession.
  • Pride -- Enjoy elevated self-esteem and satisfaction in your work.

Candidate Manual

The Candidate Manual is a detailed, printer-friendly document that provides a comprehensive overview of the certification process, intended for use by individuals who are interested in obtaining the CCLS credential. The manual provides information on child life certification including: eligibility requirements, application procedures, examination content and other essential information about the program.

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Recertification Manual

The Recertification Manual is a printable-document providing detailed information on earning, counting, reporting, and documenting professional development units (PDUs) towards recertification. It includes helpful reference guides and important forms like the PDU Verification Form and Recertification by PDU Application.

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