How to Become a Lactation Consultant – The Requirements

The journey to becoming a Lactation Consultant can be overwhelming! As we discussed in the last post, there are three main requirements to become an IBCLC: 14 health science courses, 90 hours lactation education, and then varying clinical hours depending on the pathway you’re doing. This post will break down these sections and help address common questions.

Health Science Courses

The Health Science courses do not have a time limit to be completed. These courses range from biology to research and can be acquired at a University, through OpenEd courses like Coursera, or CLEP credits. The Facebook group “Want to be an IBCLC?” has a file of courses that have been approved by IBLCE and can provide more guidance on this topic.

Often frustrating for applicants are the “health accessory” courses, as I call them, such as medical terminology, documentation, etc. For many US-based folks these are not offered at many colleges. In these cases, there are online resources such as Lactation Education Resources, Health E-Learning, and Breastfeeding Outlook offer packages for these classes that satisfy the requirement.

Lactation Education Courses 

While 90 hours of lactation specific education can seem daunting, it is not as overwhelming as one would think. While there are full programs available online and in-person, you do not have to do a complete program to qualify to sit for the exam. Your hours do not even need to be CERPs! As long as the education received was lactation specific and you can verify attendance (an agenda from the training, signed by the facilitator, for example), then it will qualify for this requirement.

Clinical Hours

These can be obtained in a variety of ways. The obvious way would be working directly with postpartum parents on a maternity ward, pediatrics, or other related clinic. Depending on the pathway you choose you could obtain these hours shadowing an IBCLC, in a WIC clinic as a Breastfeeding Peer Counselor (US-based), or your approved program will work with you to arrange an internship for your hours.

So what do you do when you’re not in a medical field and do not have access to these options?

This is where Peer-to-Peer groups come in. Leaders in approved Peer-to-Peer support organizations receive a certain number of clinical hours per year of being in the position. This allows you to work with families in group and one-on-one settings in a variety of ways, but still achieve the clinical hours needed to sit for the exam.

And that’s it!

Until next time, be well!


  1. Bablofil left a comment on March 19, 2017 at 9:46 pm

    Thanks, great article.

    • Tori left a comment on May 24, 2017 at 1:25 pm

      Thank you for reading & sharing 🙂

  2. left a comment on May 24, 2017 at 6:00 am

    Both your clinical experience gained and your lactation-specific educational preparation must be acquired within the 5 years prior to sitting the IBLCE examination.

    • Tori left a comment on May 24, 2017 at 1:25 pm

      Absolutely correct! Thank you for that.

  3. left a comment on June 15, 2017 at 9:19 pm

    Both your lactation education and yourhours of clinical experience must be completed within five years of taking the board exam.

  4. left a comment on July 4, 2017 at 7:52 am

    Was at least 90 hours of your formal lactation-specific education acquired within the 5 years before you intend to sit the IBLCE exam?

    • Tori left a comment on July 24, 2017 at 1:49 am

      Yes – I had to have all of my 90/1000 done within 5 years of sitting for the exam

  5. Danyon left a comment on July 17, 2017 at 11:27 pm

    God, I feel like I sholud be takin notes! Great work

  6. left a comment on July 18, 2017 at 3:33 pm

    International Board Certified Lactation Consultants are recognized as health professionals in their own right, with professional and legal responsibilities.

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