Mental Health Career Project

Childlife Activity Specialist

Description


    Child life specialists are pediatric health care professionals who work with children and families in hospitals and other settings to help them cope with the challenges of hospitalization, illness, and disability. Child life specialists work closely with children and families in medical settings, serving as emotional support and helping develop family coping strategies. With a background in child development, psychology and counseling, child life specialists help explain medical jargon to kids and prepare them for procedures.

Working Conditions

    Child life specialists work in a variety of settings in order to provide the best care possible for children and families. For example, St. Jude’s child life program allows child life specialists to travel to a child’s school and give a presentation to the patient’s peers about his or her illness and time in the hospital. Other child life specialists work specifically in one hospital department. A child life specialist’s job varies among medical settings, with duties changing every day.

Training/ Education Requirements

As required by the Child Life Council, a certified child life specialist must have at least a bachelor’s or master’s degree, generally in a related field of study, such as psychology, human growth and development, education or counseling. They must also complete a minimum of 480 hours in a clinical internship under a certified child life specialist. Many internships consist of more than the minimum number of hours, and most require practicum experience before the internship. The final requirement is passing a national examination offered once a year. Once certified, child life specialists must partake in continued professional development to maintain their certification.

Job Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the employment of child life workers will increase by 12.3% by 2018. The number of jobs in the child life field continues to rise with virtually every children’s hospital across North American creating a “child life team.” Most children’s hospitals are in large urban areas, therefore, those interested in this career may need to be willing to relocate.

Salary Range

The median annual child life specialist salary is $48,679 with a range usually between $43,459-$54,576. However, the salary for someone with the title Child Life Specialist may vary depending on a number of factors including industry, company size, location, years of experience and level of education. The median hourly wage for a Child Life Specialist is $23 with a range usually between $21-$26. However, the hourly wage for someone with the title Child Life Specialist may vary depending on a number of factors including industry, company size, location, years of experience and level of education.