All initial applicants must fulfill these 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.
- Health Sciences Education
Refer to the Health Science Education Guide for a list of these subjects and descriptions.Candidates whose profession is listed as a Recognised Health Profession are considered to have fulfilled the health science education requirement.Or, one meets this requirement if one can provide evidence from a governmental authority that recognises the profession as a clinical health profession.
- Lactation Specific Education
90 hours of education that covers human lactation or breastfeeding topics.
- 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.
- Code of Professional Conduct for IBCLCs
Adhere to, with attestation, the Code of Professional Conduct for IBCLCs.
For more detailed information please review our Candidate Information Guide.
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). Please note that IBLCE reseves the right to audit any candidate application. Review the Health Sciences Education Guide for details.
If you are able to provide documentation that you are authorised by a governmental authority 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 Recognised Health Professionals list, be it a nurse, doctor, etc. must provide these documents too if audited.
IBLCE does not require, recommend or endorse any particular course. You may wish to contact independent professional associations for information. Lactation specific education that covers the disciplines and chronological periods listed on IBCLC Detailed Content Outline may be used to meet the Lactation Specific Education requirements. 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.
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 and reserves the right to audit any candidate application.
IBLCE provides 3 ways that candidates, health care professionals or non-health professionals, can obtain the required clinical practice in lactation and breastfeeding care:
- Pathway 1 – Completing a minimum of 1000 hours of of lactation specific clinical practise in an appropriate supervised setting within the 5 years immediately prior to examination application.
- Pathway 2 – Completing an accredited lactation academic programme that includes at least 300 hours of directly supervised lactation specific clinical practise within the 5 years immediately prior to examination application.
- Pathway 3 – Completing an IBLCE-verified Pathway 3 Plan of at least 500 hours of directly supervised lactation specific clinical practise with an IBCLC as described in the Pathway 3 Plan Guide and obtained within the 5 years immediately prior to examination application.
Please note that personal experience breastfeeding your own children and experience helping family members and friends cannot be used to qualify for the IBCLC examination.
• Paid or unpaid experience at an appropriate supervised setting (look below for examples)
- 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
You may want to look at Pathway 2 accredited lactation academic programmes or Pathway 3 mentorship programs with an IBCLC.
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:
- Birth Centre
- Community Clinic
- Lactation Care Clinic/Practice
- Primary Care Practitioner’s Practice/Office
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.
Yes, you may use a combination of experience from different jobs or volunteer positions to qualify through Pathway 1.
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. Keep in mind that should your application be selected for audit, you will need to provide supporting documentation. Please note IBLCE reserves the right to audit any candidate application.
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 IBCLC Information page helpful in calculating your hours.
No. Your work experience may not be used to qualify for the IBCLC examination through Pathway 1. Supervision by an IBCLC or other health professional who works on-site with you is required.
No. You may not use this experience to qualify through Pathway 1. IBLCE requires that you work or volunteer for a Recognised Breastfeeding Support Counsellor Organisation or be at an appropriate supervised setting.
You will need information about the following topics:
- Which pathway you followed — 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 practise 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 third-party documentation that supports the need for accommodations.
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.
IBLCE offers only one certification. The International Board Certified Lactation Consultant® (IBCLC®) certification is the only credential awarded by IBLCE.
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 an appropriate supervised setting.
- Through work (paid or volunteer) with a specific breastfeeding support counsellor organisation that is recognised by IBLCE.