Child Life Specialist Salary

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Child Life Specialist Salary

The median salary of child life specialist in the US is between USD 32,000 to USD 44,000 annually, with certified individuals earning more than their uncertified counterparts.

A child life specialist plays a vital role in the healthcare setting. They help children deal with traumatic situations that might affect their physical and mental well-being. They use fun and educational activities to help children deal with hospitalization.

Like most professions, the average salary depends on the years of relevant experience and size of the organization. Geographical location of the job also plays a major role in deciding the paycheck, with individuals working in metropolitan areas earning more than those working in rural settings.


A bachelor’s degree in child care, child psychology, children’s counseling, etc. can make you eligible for child life specialist jobs. Some colleges even offer specialized degree programs that you could enroll for. Information about these colleges can be researched online on education portals.

You can also get into a post-baccalaureate certificate program. It includes training to deal with hospitalized children, grieving process, pediatric interventions, knowledge about the healthcare settings, etc. Individuals will require a bachelor’s degree to qualify for these programs. Applicants will have to submit scores of their Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and letters of recommendation.

After completion of the course, to practice as a qualified child life specialist, you will be required to pass an examination conducted by the Child Life Council. Eligibility criteria for this test includes completion of 10 college level courses in fields related to child care, counseling, or psychology. The exam is conducted twice every year and upon successful completion, individuals are designated as Certified Child Life Specialists (CCLS).

Job Description

These professionals mostly work under hospital settings and have to deal with adolescents, children, and infants. They have to help kids and their families cope with illnesses, injuries, and the fear of hospitalization, plus the stress and anxiety attached to it. Child life specialists will use therapeutic games and conduct activities that enable children to express themselves and deal with their medical situation. These specialists also help family members cope with the situation and educate them about dealing with an ill child. The specialists, at times, conduct counseling for families before hospitalization. They also act as a conduit between the family members and the doctors. In most hospital jobs, they may also be required to perform administrative duties and run community awareness programs.


Like most medical jobs, the salary is quite comparable. The median national wage is USD 32,000 to USD 44,000 annually. Some supervisory positions will pay more than the average national wage and the pay package can go upwards of USD 50,000 annually. Statistics also show that individuals who are Certified Child Life Specialists earn almost USD 5,000 more annually, than those without certification. Geographical location also plays a major factor in deciding the pay package, as many big hospitals are located in metropolitan areas.

The average salary in California is estimated to be between USD 39,000 to USD 49,000. Almost 20 percent of all employed child life specialists in California earn a salary between USD 49,000 to USD 54,000 annually. In New York, the salary averages between USD 47,000 to USD 58,000. Almost 20 percent of all employed child life specialists earn between USD 58,000 to USD 63,000 annually.

According to some predictions, the healthcare industry is set to experience good growth and the average salary is also expected to grow, along with the industry. Individuals with good communication skills and those who build a rapport with children are expected to do well.

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