How to Become a CCLS

I know that when I first heard about this career path I had no idea what made you qualified for it. So… you have to want to work in healthcare and like kids, right? Right. However, that’s not all it takes.

Per the Child Life Council’s Website, before 2019 the requirements to be eligible to sit for the Child Life Certification Exam are as follows:

  • Minimum of a Bachelor’s Degree:
    • In 2022, this is changing to the requirement of a master’s degree in child life or a master’s degree with a concentration in child life.
    • Your bachelor’s degree does not have to be in child life, as long as it is in a related field (psychology, child development, etc.)
  • Completed a total of 10 college-level courses in child life or a related field, one of which is a course taught by a CCLS (Certified Child Life Specialist). The remaining 9 courses must fall into one of these categories:
    • Child life
    • Child development
    • Family development
    • Human development
    • Family dynamics
    • Psychology
    • Counseling
    • Sociology
    • Therapeutic recreation
    • Expressive therapies
  • 480-hour Child Life Internship
    • This must be completed under the supervision of a CCLS


Since I didn’t know about child life until after I graduated with a degree in psychology, I chose to go ahead and get a second bachelor’s degree in child life. Given the program I got into and where I was at in life, it was the best decision for me at that time. However, master’s programs are highly encouraged now especially since the requirement is changing starting in 2022. I’m a firm believer that you have to do what is best for you in life; you can’t constantly worry about what other people think. No matter which path you choose to take, put everything you have into it and the payout will be well worth it in the end!


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