Certification FAQs

Initial Candidates

What are the requirements to sit for the IBCLC exam?

All initial applicants must fulfill 3 key requirements prior to applying.  All requirements are to be completed within the 5 years immediately prior to applying for the IBCLC exam, except for the Health Science Education, which can be completed at any time prior to applying. 

  1. 14 Health Sciences Education Courses. Refer to the Health Science Guide for a list of these courses and descriptions.
    Candidates whose profession is listed under the IBLCE Recognised Health Professions are considered to have fulfilled the health science education requirement.
  2. Lactation Specific Education
    90 hours of education that covers human lactation or breastfeeding topics.
  3. Lactation Specific Clinical Experience
    Provide care that supports breastfeeding families, including lactation assistance to pregnant and breastfeeding persons and lactation education to families and/or professionals.

For more detailed information please review our  Candidate Information Guide.

I’m not a Recognised Health Professional. How do I demonstrate completion of the Health Sciences Education?

You will provide information on the application about this, as well as if your application is randomly chosen for audit you would need to provide supporting documentation (e.g. copies of transcripts and/or certificates showing that you have a passing grade in each of the 14 health science subjects).  Review the Health Sciences Education Guide for details.

I am a clinical health professional but my profession is not listed on the Recognised Health Professions List. What do I need to do to demonstrate completion of the Health Sciences Education courses?

If you are able to provide documentation that you are authorized by your state or national government to practice as a clinical health professional, you will be considered to have fulfilled the Health Sciences Education requirements. Any health care professional from the Recognized Health Professionals list, be it a nurse, doctor, etc. must provide these documents too if audited.

I’ve reviewed my transcripts against the descriptions in the Health Sciences Education Guide but I still have some questions about some of my courses. Will IBLCE take a look at my transcripts and tell me if my courses qualify?

IBLCE staff does not review courses prior to application submission. You will need to compare your transcript(s) against the course descriptions provided in the Health Sciences Education Guide. Further explanation is provided in the Health Sciences Summary.

I need to sign up for a course in human lactation and breastfeeding. Which course do you recommend?

IBLCE does not require, recommend or endorse any particular course. Some candidates take courses that are approved by the Lactation Education Accreditation and Approval Review Committee (LEAARC) and others complete courses that have been awarded Continuing Education Recognition Points. In addition, you may use lactation specific education that is provided by health professional education approval boards and/or lactation specific education offered by your employer or volunteer organization. Lactation specific Education that covers the disciplines and chronological periods listed on the Detailed Content Outline may be used to meet the lactation specific education requirement. This education may be offered in the classroom or through distance learning such as online courses and independent study modules.

Please note that self-study is important but it is not able to be counted toward meeting the required lactation specific education

How do I document my lactation specific education? Is there a special form I need to complete?

The application form will ask you to verify that you have met this requirement. You should retain copies of certificates that prove your attendance at each of the courses you completed, as IBLCE does randomly audit applications.

How do I obtain the required clinical experience in lactation and breastfeeding care?

IBLCE has provided 3 ways that candidates, health care professionals or non-health professionals, can obtain the required clinical practice in lactation and breastfeeding care:

  • By reporting a minimum of 1000 hours of appropriately supervised experience gained from  paid or volunteer clinical practice in providing care or education to breastfeeding families or professionals (Pathway 1)


  • Graduating from an IBLCE recognised academic program that includes at least 300 hours of directly supervised clinical practice in breastfeeding and lactation care in its curriculum (Pathway 2)


  • Completing an IBLCE verified Pathway 3 Plan of at least 500 hours of directly supervised clinical practice in lactation and breastfeed care or education with an IBCLC

Please note that personal experience breastfeeding your own children and experience helping family members and friends cannot be used to qualify for the IBLCE examination.

How can I earn the hours as an IBLCE Recognised Health Professional for Pathway 1?

• Paid or unpaid experience at an appropriate supervised setting (look below for examples)
• Independent clinical practice, as your scope of practice allows

How can I earn the hours as a non-health professional for Pathway 1?
  • As a breastfeeding support counsellor through a specific IBLCE Recognised Breastfeeding Support Counsellor Organisation
  • Paid or unpaid experience at an appropriate supervised setting (look below for examples); independent clinical experience does not count
What if I am not able to find clinical experience as defined by Pathway 1?

You may want to look at Pathway 2 academic programs or Pathway 3 mentorship programs with an IBCLC.

Which types of settings are considered an appropriate supervised setting to earn clinical hours?

IBLCE recognises health care delivery settings that meet the following criteria:

  • Provide structured training programs for their counsellors which includes comprehensive education in breastfeeding and lactation management.
  • Have a Code of Ethics or Professional Conduct.
  • Provide structured supervision for counsellors, with an appropriate level of training.
  • Provide a continuing education program for counsellors.

The following health care delivery settings meet this criteria and clinical hours can be earned through paid or volunteer work on an hour-for-hour basis in these settings:

  • Hospital
  • Birth Centre
  • Community Clinic
  • Lactation Care Clinic/Practice
  • Primary Care Practitioner’s Practice/Office
May I use my work experience as a breastfeeding peer counsellor to qualify through Pathway 1?

If your supervisor is an IBCLC or other health professional who works in the same location where you work and your supervisor can verify the accuracy of the hours that you report, you may use your work experience as a breastfeeding peer counsellor to qualify through Pathway 1.

I have experience as a volunteer breastfeeding support counsellor and experience working as a recognised health professional. May I use experience from both of these roles to qualify through Pathway 1?

Yes, you may use a combination of experience from different jobs or volunteer positions to qualify through Pathway 1.

I want to qualify though Pathway 1 but I spend only a portion of my time each day helping families with breastfeeding concerns. How do I calculate my lactation specific clinical practice hours?

The hours that you report will be based upon a good faith estimate that you make about the amount of time you spend providing lactation and breastfeeding care. Keeping a weekly time log for several weeks can help you determine how many hours, on average, you spend helping breastfeeding families. You may find the Lactation Specific Clinical Practice Calculator found on the IBLCE Documents page helpful in calculating your hours.

I provide breastfeeding counselling and support to families in my job. I am not a health professional and I do not have an on-site supervisor. May I use my on-the-job experience to qualify for the IBLCE examination through Pathway 1?

No. Your work experience may not be used to qualify for the IBLCE examination through Pathway 1. Supervision by an IBCLC or other health professional who works on-site with you is required.

I work in a store that sells and rents breastfeeding supplies and equipment. I help customers with their breastfeeding questions and problems. I am not a health professional. May I use this experience to qualify for the IBLCE examination through Pathway 1?

No. You may not use this experience to qualify through Pathway 1, because IBLCE only accepts independent work as a health professional. IBLCE requires that you work or volunteer for a Recognised Breastfeeding Support Counsellor Organisation or be at an appropriate supervised setting.

What information do I need to complete my application for exam as an initial candidate?

You will need information about the following topics:

  • Which pathway you will be following—Pathway 1, 2 or 3
  • Whether or not, in the past five years, you have completed the required 90 hours of lactation specific education
  • How you will demonstrate completion of the Health Sciences Education.
  • How many hours of clinical practice in lactation and breastfeeding care you have completed in the past five years
    • 1000 supervised hours for Pathway 1
    • 300 directly supervised hours for Pathway 2
    • 500 directly supervised hours for Pathway 3

In addition, you will need to provide personal information such as birth date, country of citizenship and professional background and information about exam preferences such as whether you require accommodations during the exam administration and/or where you want to sit the examination. If you require accommodations, you will need documentation that supports the need for accommodations.

What do I need if my application is selected for Audit?

If your application is selected for audit, you will be required to provide documentation that supports your completion of the following requirements:

  • Health Sciences Education
  • Lactation Specific Education
  • Clinical Practice

Also, if you are selected for audit you will be contacted via email by your account coordinator. Have documentation ready before the submission of application, as we provide 10 business days for the candidate to submit documentation. If documentation is not received by that deadline your application may be denied and 50% of the paid fee will be refunded.

I’m not sure I qualify to become an IBCLC. What other credentials in breastfeeding care does IBLCE offer?

IBLCE offers only one certification. The International Board Certified Lactation Consultant® (IBCLC®) certification is the only credential awarded by IBLCE.

I can count my time providing lactation care and/or support online, right?


Clinical hours are to be earned in an appropriate supervised setting. The following scenarios are ways in which time providing care and/or support via online can count via Pathway 1:

  • Through a health professional role in which you are able to provide this type of care independently within your scope of practice.
  • Through an appropriate supervised setting in which it is part of your scope of work.
  • Through work (paid or volunteer) with a specific breastfeeding support counsellor organisation that is recognised by IBLCE.


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