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Certification Playbook: Finding Your Steps to the IBCLC

Certification Playbook: Finding Your Steps to the IBCLC
If you’re considering becoming an IBCLC, you already know that helping breastfeeding families is a passion. It can be one of the most rewarding jobs on the planet.
At LER, we know that if becoming an IBCLC is your passion, you can make it happen.
As the new year begins, we’re rolling out a blog series that will help.
We want to make it easy for 2022 to become the year you take bold steps toward your goal.
Introducing the Certification Playbook
You know you want to become an IBCLC, but how can you make it happen?
If you’re like most aspiring IBCLCs, you already have a full life–perhaps another career, a family, other responsibilities … and oh, yes– there’s a pandemic going on, just to make things more interesting.
And let’s face it–there are a lot of requirements to sit the exam, and multiple ways to fulfill them, which can sometimes seem a little overwhelming.
Consider this series your playbook to getting to the IBCLC exam.
Each blog in the series will explain and simplify a separate step of the process, providing expert tips on how to get it done.
Along the way, we’ll look at how Covid-19 might add challenges (and sometimes opportunities!) on your path and offer advice for navigating them.
Your guide for the series is Angela Love-Zaranka, BA, IBCLC, RLC, Program Director at Lactation Education Resources (LER). Love-Zaranka served on the IBLCE Board from 2006 to 2012 and sat on IBLCE committees until 2015. She has seen every aspect of the process, including helping to write the IBCLC Exam.
Your Big-Picture Plan
In this first blog in the series, we’re going to ask you to zoom out and look at your journey from a bird’s eye view.
Get out a pen and a notebook, because you’re about to evaluate where you are in three requirement categories.
While there are multiple pathways to qualifying for the IBCLC Exam, everyone who sits has to do three things.
  • Complete a list of required post-secondary (college) courses.
  • Complete 95 hours of breastfeeding-specific education (including a 5-hour communication course).
  • Collect contact hours helping lactating families.
Now is a great time to take stock. We’ll get deeper into each requirement in subsequent blogs, but where are you, approximately, in each category as 2022 begins?
Take a look at this list of required college courses Lactation Education Resources - IBLCE Required College Courses (lactationtraining.com). Do you have some of these health sciences courses, but need others?
Are you already in the process of getting clinical hours, through your job or volunteering or with a mentor? If not, what are your thoughts on how you want to fulfill that requirement?
Where are you on lactation-specific education? 95 hours are required. Do you have some of them already?
By taking stock in a big-picture sense, you will begin to find the areas where 2022 can be a year of meeting goals!
When Do I Have to Do It By?
One critical detail to remember: All exam requirements must be met before you can apply to take the exam—and the window to apply closes months before the exam actually occurs.
If you think you may be able to take the exam in 2022, here are the dates you need to know.
The application window for the first 2022 exam, happening in March, has already closed.
The next exam for which you can apply will take place September 14 through September 23, 2022.
Applications to sit the September 2022 exam will be accepted from April 12 to May 24, 2022.
To apply to take the September 2022 exam, you will need to have all your requirements met by no later than May 24, 2022.
Keep track of all the IBLCE deadlines - including changes that may occur - at their website here.
Is 2022 My Exam Year?
So … can you still take the exam in 2022?
You might be able to.
It depends on how many of the application requirements you have already met.
If you have your college coursework done and are already fulfilling your clinical hours, and all you need is a 95-hour course, you might be able to sit in September 2022.
Getting through a 95-hour breastfeeding-specific course takes a bit more than 95 hours. We’re in January, which means there are about 18 weeks until the application window closes.
The magic number: If you can work on a 95-hour course about 7 hours each week, you can finish in time.
However, Love-Zaranka cautions, it will take discipline and focus—and planning for contingencies.
“Get out your calendar and add it in first each week,” she advises. “If you don’t, it’s not going to happen. And make sure you budget in time for unexpected things that come up—family difficulties, or if you get ill.”
LER’s 95-hour course, Lactation Training Program Enriched, offers everything you need to complete your breastfeeding specific education.
I can’t test this year. What now?
If you still have college health science courses to take, or you need a lot more clinical hours, those are probably not steps you can complete by May.
And that’s okay.
There’s another IBCLC exam coming in March 2023! (And there will be more after that.)
The biggest mistake? Realizing you can’t sit in September and not looking beyond that fact.
Planning now to fulfill the requirements for the next exam–or the one after that–is the way to make it happen.
You need a long-term plan.
Take stock of each requirement still left to complete and think through when and how you will do it.
“You can get there if you develop a planning mindset,” Love-Zaranka says. “It is like building a walkway one rock at a time, and you need to find your rocks. What pieces do you still need? How are you going to get them?”
It’s okay if you don’t have answers to all of those questions. The key is to figure out what you do know, and then start filling in the blanks.
Chances are, you’re closer than you think!
Okay, but where do I start?
“If you have to start with one piece, pick breastfeeding education,” Love-Zaranka says.
Digging into lactation education can help you be sure you really want to be an IBCLC, prep you for a mentorship or clinical hours, and help keep your passion alive on the journey.
A great first step, easily doable in 2022? Become a Certified Breastfeeding Specialist (CBS).
This certification allows you to start working with breastfeeding families right away, and the 52+ education hours you earn can go directly toward those you need for the IBCLC exam. Look for the Core Lactation Consultant Course here Core Lactation Consultant Course
One Step at a Time.
College coursework. Clinical hours. Lactation Education.
These are the basic steps for everyone, but each person’s journey looks a little different.
And actually, that’s okay.
“Your journey is what is going to make you a really great lactation consultant,” Love-Zaranka says. “It can feel like a long road, but this is not the time to rush it. The journey brings with it wisdom. Every step is enriching your eventual practice.”
What will your unique journey look like?
Join us for the next blog in this series! We’ll dig deeper into how to get clinical hours, with an additional look at how Covid-19 has changed the landscape on this requirement.
Certification Playbook: Finding Your Steps to the IBCLC
If you’re considering becoming an IBCLC, you already know that helping breastfeeding families is a passion. It can be one of the most rewarding jobs on the planet.
At LER, we know that if becoming an IBCLC is your passion, you can make it happen.
As the new year begins, we’re rolling out a blog series that will help.
We want to make it easy for 2022 to become the year you take bold steps toward your goal.
Introducing the Certification Playbook
You know you want to become an IBCLC, but how can you make it happen?
If you’re like most aspiring IBCLCs, you already have a full life–perhaps another career, a family, other responsibilities … and oh, yes– there’s a pandemic going on, just to make things more interesting.
And let’s face it–there are a lot of requirements to sit the exam, and multiple ways to fulfill them, which can sometimes seem a little overwhelming.
Consider this series your playbook to getting to the IBCLC exam.
Each blog in the series will explain and simplify a separate step of the process, providing expert tips on how to get it done.
Along the way, we’ll look at how Covid-19 might add challenges (and sometimes opportunities!) on your path and offer advice for navigating them.
Your guide for the series is Angela Love-Zaranka, BA, IBCLC, RLC, Program Director at Lactation Education Resources (LER). Love-Zaranka served on the IBLCE Board from 2006 to 2012 and sat on IBLCE committees until 2015. She has seen every aspect of the process, including helping to write the IBCLC Exam.
Your Big-Picture Plan
In this first blog in the series, we’re going to ask you to zoom out and look at your journey from a bird’s eye view.
Get out a pen and a notebook, because you’re about to evaluate where you are in three requirement categories.
While there are multiple pathways to qualifying for the IBCLC Exam, everyone who sits has to do three things.
  • Complete a list of required post-secondary (college) courses.
  • Complete 95 hours of breastfeeding-specific education (including a 5-hour communication course).
  • Collect contact hours helping lactating families.
Now is a great time to take stock. We’ll get deeper into each requirement in subsequent blogs, but where are you, approximately, in each category as 2022 begins?
Take a look at this list of required college courses Lactation Education Resources - IBLCE Required College Courses (lactationtraining.com). Do you have some of these health sciences courses, but need others?
Are you already in the process of getting clinical hours, through your job or volunteering or with a mentor? If not, what are your thoughts on how you want to fulfill that requirement?
Where are you on lactation-specific education? 95 hours are required. Do you have some of them already?
By taking stock in a big-picture sense, you will begin to find the areas where 2022 can be a year of meeting goals!
When Do I Have to Do It By?
One critical detail to remember: All exam requirements must be met before you can apply to take the exam—and the window to apply closes months before the exam actually occurs.
If you think you may be able to take the exam in 2022, here are the dates you need to know.
The application window for the first 2022 exam, happening in March, has already closed.
The next exam for which you can apply will take place September 14 through September 23, 2022.
Applications to sit the September 2022 exam will be accepted from April 12 to May 24, 2022.
To apply to take the September 2022 exam, you will need to have all your requirements met by no later than May 24, 2022.
Keep track of all the IBLCE deadlines - including changes that may occur - at their website here.
Is 2022 My Exam Year?
So … can you still take the exam in 2022?
You might be able to.
It depends on how many of the application requirements you have already met.
If you have your college coursework done and are already fulfilling your clinical hours, and all you need is a 95-hour course, you might be able to sit in September 2022.
Getting through a 95-hour breastfeeding-specific course takes a bit more than 95 hours. We’re in January, which means there are about 18 weeks until the application window closes.
The magic number: If you can work on a 95-hour course about 7 hours each week, you can finish in time.
However, Love-Zaranka cautions, it will take discipline and focus—and planning for contingencies.
“Get out your calendar and add it in first each week,” she advises. “If you don’t, it’s not going to happen. And make sure you budget in time for unexpected things that come up—family difficulties, or if you get ill.”
LER’s 95-hour course, Lactation Training Program Enriched, offers everything you need to complete your breastfeeding specific education.
I can’t test this year. What now?
If you still have college health science courses to take, or you need a lot more clinical hours, those are probably not steps you can complete by May.
And that’s okay.
There’s another IBCLC exam coming in March 2023! (And there will be more after that.)
The biggest mistake? Realizing you can’t sit in September and not looking beyond that fact.
Planning now to fulfill the requirements for the next exam–or the one after that–is the way to make it happen.
You need a long-term plan.
Take stock of each requirement still left to complete and think through when and how you will do it.
“You can get there if you develop a planning mindset,” Love-Zaranka says. “It is like building a walkway one rock at a time, and you need to find your rocks. What pieces do you still need? How are you going to get them?”
It’s okay if you don’t have answers to all of those questions. The key is to figure out what you do know, and then start filling in the blanks.
Chances are, you’re closer than you think!
Okay, but where do I start?
“If you have to start with one piece, pick breastfeeding education,” Love-Zaranka says.
Digging into lactation education can help you be sure you really want to be an IBCLC, prep you for a mentorship or clinical hours, and help keep your passion alive on the journey.
A great first step, easily doable in 2022? Become a Certified Breastfeeding Specialist (CBS).
This certification allows you to start working with breastfeeding families right away, and the 52+ education hours you earn can go directly toward those you need for the IBCLC exam. Look for the Core Lactation Consultant Course here Core Lactation Consultant Course
One Step at a Time.
College coursework. Clinical hours. Lactation Education.
These are the basic steps for everyone, but each person’s journey looks a little different.
And actually, that’s okay.
“Your journey is what is going to make you a really great lactation consultant,” Love-Zaranka says. “It can feel like a long road, but this is not the time to rush it. The journey brings with it wisdom. Every step is enriching your eventual practice.”
What will your unique journey look like?
Join us for the next blog in this series! We’ll dig deeper into how to get clinical hours, with an additional look at how Covid-19 has changed the landscape on this requirement.
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