Pathways to Lactation Careers

Are you interested in becoming an IBCLC? Lactation careers are rewarding, provide high job satisfaction, and offer room for both advancement and specialization in outpatient, perinatal, and NICU settings. If you are pursuing IBCLC certification, our Lactation Tech program can help you on your way.

Certified lactation consultants (IBCLCs) make a real difference in the lives of growing families. As part of our mission to create accessible lactation care for all families, Breastfeeding Success supports those pursuing IBCLC certification through a paid position that can help you gain clinical experience.

How can I become an IBCLC?

To become a certified lactation consultant, you must complete requirements in four key areas. 

  1. College level coursework
  2. Lactation-specific continuing education
  3. Clinical hours in direct patient care*
  4. Passing the board exam

*Clinical experience has been a challenging aspect of IBCLC certification — and that’s where Breastfeeding Success can help. Learn more about each area below. 

College level coursework

IBCLCs must complete credits for an Associates degree in health sciences, taking a total of 14 courses as follows:

Core courses: eight college level, semester-based courses from an accredited institution of higher learning as follows.

Universities that offer these courses online

Your local community college or university likely also have these courses.

Continuing education courses: six college level, semester-based courses offered by an accredited institution of higher learning or independent continuing education (CE, CEU) provider as follows.

    • Basic Life Support
    • Medical Documentation
    • Medical Terminology
    • Occupational Safety and Security for Health Professionals
    • Professional Ethics for Health Professionals
    • Universal Safety Precautions and Infection Control

Check with your local community college as well as some of the resources below for availability.

 Lactation-specific continuing education

Lactation consultant candidates must also complete 90 lactation-specific continuing education units (CEUs). Unlike college courses, these are hour-for-hour credits. Attending an hour-long webinar provides 1 out of 90 required CEUs. Develop a plan for and get started on completing your 90 hours of lactation-specific education before you pursue clinical experience through Breastfeeding Success.

Below are resources that can help you obtain lactation-specific CEUs. As you go, be sure to keep track of all lactation-specific continuing education you attain, and complete at least 90 credits before applying to sit for the IBCLC exam.

Online lactation-specific education:

Free / low cost lactation-specific education:

    • The Texas State WIC program has online courses that can create a great foundation for Lactation education.
    • If you become an ILCA member all courses that qualify for LCERPS are FREE as a member benefit. You could obtain most of your 90 hrs there but it is all topic focussed in 1-2 hr sessions. You can join as a student for a discounted price and still get access to all the resources.
    • If you become a USLCA member you will gain access to a wealth of knowledge and access to very low cost education that qualifies towards that 90 hrs

Conferences and online CERP providers of lactation-specific education:

Clinical hours in direct patient care

Depending on your pathway, you will need between 300 – 500 hours of direct patient care in a clinical setting or supervised by an IBCLC. Visit this link to determine which pathway is right for you. Often, those who wish to become IBCLCs struggle to gain the required hours of clinical experience required for the exam.  Too often private practice LCs do not have the developed curriculum needed by IBLCE for pathway 3 and most hospitals will not allow students. In the case that a mentorship program can be found, there is often a significant expense to this training. That’s where the Breastfeeding Success Lactation Tech program can help. 

Becoming a Lactation Tech with Breastfeeding Success removes barriers to IBCLC certification through a paid position in which you can gain clinical experience. As a Lactation Tech, you will complete all clinical competencies on the job, and be prepared to sit for the IBCLC exam. 

Once you have completed college course requirements and have developed a plan for gaining your 90 lactation-specific continuing education units, you may be eligible to apply as a Lactation Tech.

Check here for available Lactation Tech positions with BFS

More questions? If you meet the requirements for our Lactation Tech program, please apply for a position with Breastfeeding Success. For a comprehensive look at becoming an IBCLC, visit the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners (IBLCE) and consult their IBLCE Candidate Information Guide.

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