Becoming a Certified Lactation Educator (CLE) is a career path that is growing in popularity and recognition. Some people choose to become a CLE right off the bat, while others who work in hospitals or as childbirth educators find themselves becoming increasingly interested in what the CLE career path has to offer.
As with any career path, becoming a CLE requires time, commitment and money. It is not as expensive as obtaining a 4-year degree from an accredited college, but paying for the coursework, application fees, books, and testing all adds up quickly. Know that you are ready to embark on this wonderful journey and all that it has to offer.
To get started in becoming a Certified Lactation Educator, you will need to enroll in an educational program that is offered by Lactation Education Consultants (LEC). You can find many of these programs available at nearby colleges and universities. These lactation programs are at least 45 hours long and are designed to get you started on the basics of the lactation process.
In addition to taking the proper coursework, you will also need supervised hands-on hours where you are working directly with breastfeeding mothers. The hours vary from program to program, but many require that you have at least 1,000 hours with mothers and their babies.
These hours are meant to be supervised, so they will be done in clinical settings, such as hospitals or lactation clinics. At first, you will be supervised to make sure that you are guiding breastfeeding mothers in the right direction. As you become more comfortable however, you will be free to offer lactation counseling on your own, yet your hours will need to be recorded.
Some certification programs are designed for busy moms and health care providers in mind. These distance programs do not require people to take a seminar or coursework in order to become a certified lactation educator. Instead, there are more hands-on and observational hours that need to be completed in place of attending classes.
At the end of your program, you will need to take a test to become a CLE. The test will cover all of the information that you have learned about, so be prepared to review textbooks, relevant articles and notes from the classes. Many lactation programs require that you score at least 85% or higher.
When you have completed and passed your test, you will turn in all of your required paperwork to your organization. It will take several weeks to receive your official certification, which will be required when you apply for positions.
The job market has plenty of opportunities for people looking to become Certified Lactation Educators, so you have high chances of finding a job. There are many breastfeeding mothers and babies who require the help of a CLE, and more hospitals and doctor offices are hiring CLEs to take on the job.