Certified Lactation Consultant Career
A certified lactation consultant provides help for new mothers who are often first learning to breastfeed. Supporting new mothers is an important specialty within the larger health care community. If supporting others and giving advice to ease a mother into this task is something you think is important, this could be an excellent career choice.
A certified lactation consultant is a health professional who is dedicated to promoting breastfeeding practices to individuals they work with and to the broader community through educational initiatives. They may work for community outreach organizations, in private physicians’ practices, or for hospitals. Many consultants work directly with nursing mothers to help ensure breastfeeding is successfully working and to troubleshoot problems with breastfeeding technique and weight gain in mother or infant. Though the profession is predominantly a female oriented one, there is no gender requirement and men may also consider this career.
Education and Training
In the United States, becoming a certified lactation consultant does not require a university degree, though some nursing professionals do choose to add the certificate to their credentials. It is the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners (IBLCE) that sets the requirements and curriculum out for students of this field. Candidates must complete no less than 90 hours of lactation educational seminars through an apprenticeship type approach in addition to general health sciences courses for background preparation. Once completed, candidates can register for membership in the professional association (IBLCE).
The cost to become a certified lactation consultant can vary depending on state. Students can expect to pay upwards of $7000 on mentoring and apprenticeship fees. Conferences and seminars, background educational courses and specialized breastfeeding course offerings can cost an additional $3000. Texts during the process of study can expect to range from $500-$1000 depending on any subspecialties, while an additional $500 test fee will be required to write the exam. Upon certification, professionals must pay a yearly professional dues fee of $500 and advertisement costs to find work may come in at $1000. Becoming a certified lactation consultant comes in at roughly $13,000.
Funding and Scholarships
An international scholarship opportunity for certified lactation consultant educational expenses is funded by a non-profit organization called Monetary Investment for Lactation Consultant Certification (MILCC). This board offers financial assistance to people studying to complete the certification. The MILCC currently supports over 120 students per year who identify as having financial need, and transfers over $29,000 in funding to help cover the certification costs. Individual programs may offer additional financial assistance based on financial need or in rare cases may offer funding based on academic preparation.
Job Openings and Opportunities
The job market for a certified lactation consultant varies greatly depending on geographic area. In general, urban centers use this service more than rural. Hospitals are the largest employer of consultants in the country, followed by physician practices. The IBLCE suggests that successful certificate holders begin looking for work by contacting their local hospitals and government agencies to see if positions exist. In some cases there are community openings for general education and these may be found on employment boards and job searches.
The salary for certified lactation consultants can vary widely depending on the type of placement. Those who work in hospitals can expect to make more money, often in the same area as a clinical nurse specialist. The median salary is $70,900. However, this amount also includes nurses who have chosen to become certified in the profession. Those who do not have a bachelor’s degree can expect to make roughly $22 an hour. Much of the non-hospital employment is part time and paid at an hourly rate, not salary.
The outlook for future certified lactation consultant positions is difficult to assess. Unfortunately, the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics does not keep track of this profession and the outlook of its growth. As a general trend, however, the health care field is growing, and the movement toward preferring breastfeeding over bottle feeding is on the rise. Worldwide, there are government initiatives to increase the positive messages associated with breastfeeding and this profession is closely aligned with that goal, meaning it is likely to grow in the coming years.
The certified lactation consultant profession is an honorable career path that can be rewarding both financially and intrinsically. Those considering this career would do well to seek out local resources in advance so they can find out which places might have apprenticeships that will be readily available.