Eligibility Criteria

All candidates for the IBLCE certification examination must meet minimum requirements in the following areas of study and experience.

  • Education in specified health science subjects
  • Education in human lactation and breastfeeding
  • Clinical practice in providing care to breastfeeding families

Health Sciences Education

The IBLCE Board of Directors has identified 14 health science subjects in which all candidates must demonstrate prerequisite education. These health science subjects are described in the Health Sciences Education Guide. Further explanation is provided in the Health Sciences Summary.

There is no time limit on this education. It is acceptable for the education to have been completed more than five years before applying for the IBLCE examination.
If you are educated in one of the Recognised Health Professions, you should be prepared to submit a copy of your license, registration, transcript, diploma or degree that demonstrates completion of studies in one of the recognized health professions.

If you are not a Recognised Health Professional, you should be prepared to submit transcripts and/or certificates that show you have satisfactorily completed the required coursework in the Health Sciences courses.

Note: The Recognised Health Professions list reflects credentials held worldwide by health professionals who provide clinical care. If you have questions about why your profession is not on the Recognised Health Professions List, please contact IBLCE and be prepared to provide objective evidence from a governmental authority in the form of a license or registration that demonstrates your profession is recognised as a clinical health profession in your state, province or country of practice. Professional association membership cards will not be accepted.

You may be wondering where you can obtain the Health Sciences Education. Given that the IBCLC certification is international and that educational systems vary from country to country, there is no one easy answer to that question. In some countries, it may be necessary for you to enroll in a course of study that educates you in one of the Recognised Health Professions. In other countries, you may be able to enroll in individual higher education courses. Such courses may be held in classrooms at universities or colleges or they may be offered as distance learning courses and/or online.

IBLCE does not specify how the Health Science Education must be obtained nor does IBLCE specify that the education must be obtained within a certain number of years prior to applying for the exam—only that it be completed prior to applying for the exam. The Health Sciences Education Guide along with the Health Sciences Summary is designed to provide candidates with detailed information about this educational requirement.

Note: IBLCE does not offer, approve, recommend or endorse any particular higher education institution or education provider of the Health Science Education courses.

Lactation Specific Education

Comprehensive education in the subjects listed on the IBLCE Detailed Content Outline is a vital part of preparing to become an IBCLC.

All candidates for the IBCLC certification examination must complete at least 90 hours of education in human lactation and breastfeeding. The required lactation specific education must be completed within the 5 years immediately prior to applying for the IBLCE examination.

Lactation specific education may be completed in a variety of ways, including in-person presentations, online education, distance learning and independent study modules.

Academic programs that prepare students to qualify through Pathway 2 integrate the required 90 hours of lactation specific education into their curricula.

The Lactation Education Accreditation and Approval Review Committee (LEAARC) has established standards for accreditation of academic programs in lactation education and approval of course in lactation education.

Courses awarded Continuing Education Recognition Points (CERPs) provide instruction in the disciplines listed on the IBLCE Exam Blueprint.

Note: IBLCE does not require, recommend or endorse any provider, program or course in lactation specific education.

To document your lactation specific education, you will need to provide certificates for the education you completed or verification that you graduated from a Pathway 2 academic program.

Lactation Specific Clinical Experience

The IBLCE examination tests the application of knowledge in the disciplines listed on the IBLCE Detailed Content Outline. The skill sets published in the Clinical Competencies for the Practice of International Board Certified Lactation Consultants are representative of the ways in which IBCLCs apply this knowledge to clinical situations.

Candidates should have a broad range of experience in providing lactation and breastfeeding care that spans the spectrum from pre-conception through weaning and encompasses an extensive variety of clinical skills. Lactation specific clinical experience is defined as providing maternal/child care that supports breastfeeding families, including lactation assistance to pregnant and breastfeeding women and lactation education to families and/or professionals.

All IBLCE examination candidates are required to report lactation specific clinical practice hours that were obtained within the 5 years immediately prior to applying for the examination. The number of hours that are required will depend upon the pathway being followed.

  • Actual practice and provision of lactation and breastfeeding care by the examination candidate is required. Observation or shadowing of lactation practitioners will not be counted as lactation specific clinical experience hours.

The lactation specific clinical experience hours must be completed within the five years immediately prior to applying for the exam. In addition, the lactation specific clinical experience hours must be completed before you apply for the IBLCE examination.

How you obtain the lactation specific clinical experience will be determined by the eligibility pathway you choose to follow.

Pathway 1: Report at least 1000 hours of lactation specific clinical experience obtained through your paid or volunteer employment.

Pathway 2: Graduate from an academic program that includes at least 300 hours of directly supervised lactation specific clinical experience.

Pathway 3: Complete at least 500 hours of lactation specific clinical experience under the direct supervision of certified IBCLCs.

Please visit the Pathways page for more information.