Resources for Becoming an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant

Congratulations on your interest in the International Board Certified Lactation Consultant® (IBCLC®) profession! Working as an IBCLC is very rewarding and enhances the lives of the families you touch. Certification is international, rather than limited to one country. There are three organizations that can help you as you work toward becoming an IBCLC: the International Lactation Consultant Association® (ILCA®), the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners® (IBLCE®), and the Lactation Education Accreditation and Approval Review Committee (LEAARC). Each is described below.

There is also a very active Facebook group, “Want to be an IBCLC,” where you can ask questions about your journey to becoming an IBCLC. Click here to visit the group. Note that this group is not affiliated with ILCA.

To become certified, you will need to:

  • Complete required health science courses
  • Complete 90 hours of didactic learning in lactation
  • Complete clinical experience
  • Pass the certification exam

The following sections provide resources to help you understand and accomplish those steps in a manner that matches your particular situation.

The Lactation Education Accreditation and Approval Review Committee

LEAARC provides approval to lactation management courses with at least 90 hours of didactic instruction. LEAARC also formulates recommendations for accreditation of postsecondary academic programs. LEAARC recently also approved a category of recognition for courses less than 90 hours that prepare students as breastfeeding counselors and educators. These distinctions provide a reliable indicator of educational quality and business standards to students, employers, insurers, educators, governmental officials, and the public.

LEAARC Approved Courses –  The courses on this list are all LEAARC Approved. LEAARC has been approving courses since 2008. LEAARC Approval is a voluntary process and there may be courses available that do not appear on this list. Students are encouraged to seek a LEAARC Approved course.

Accreditation – Accreditation for programs that are offered in post-secondary academic institutions became available in late 2011. LEAARC serves as a review committee for the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). The first lactation program became accredited in January of 2016. Visit the CAAHEP website to locate accredited programs.

The International Lactation Consultant Association

ILCA is the independent, international professional association for the IBCLC and other health care professionals who care for breastfeeding families. ILCA has many resources to help individuals become an IBCLC and prepare for the certification examination. We encourage you to become an ILCA member to enjoy additional members-only benefits as well.

Visit ILCA at to learn how we can help you! These resources will especially helpful:

The Journal of Human Lactation

The Annual Conference

ILCA’s Knowledge Center


Clinical Instruction Directory

Clinical Experience – Acquiring clinical experience is a challenge for many students. These ILCA resources may help you:

Find a Lactation Consultant Directory – Contact IBCLCs in your area to ask if they will mentor you.


The International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners® (IBLCE®)

IBLCE is the independent, international certification body conferring the International Board Certified Lactation Consultant® (IBCLC®) credential. IBLCE can answer questions about pathways, eligibility requirements, and other information about the credential. Contact IBLCE directly for any questions about qualifications and pathways.

Here are a couple of helpful links:

IBLCE Resources – Information about required health science courses, certification pathways and requirements, competencies, scope of practice, and more.

Preparing for Certification – Valuable insights into preparing for certification.

Learn more about IBLCE here.

As IBLCE adapts to the circumstances of COVID, you can find updates here.

Employment opportunities for IBCLCs

IBCLCs are employed in a variety of settings including hospitals, public health, physician offices (e.g., pediatrics, obstetrics, family practice), private practice, and in businesses through employer support programs. The majority work in hospital settings and, depending on the country, employers may require additional licensure (e.g., nurse, physician). Another large group works in public health settings. These IBCLCs may also have degrees in nutrition. IBCLCs with experience may work in private practice and provide services in the community with referrals from hospitals and other settings where mothers and babies are seen. There is a growing trend among employers in some countries to contract for the services of an IBCLC as part of their worksite lactation programs for their employees. This offers opportunities for IBCLCs who do not have a license in the health profession, if such a license is required in their country. There are many local, national, and international initiatives to increase optimal breastfeeding and access (and employment) to IBCLCs.

Support for your journey

Becoming an IBCLC can be a complex, confusing, and challenging process. If you would like to connect with others who are also pursuing IBCLC certification, you can consider joining these online Facebook communities. Note that these groups are not affiliated with ILCA.

What other resources have you found useful in your journey to becoming an IBCLC? Share them with us in the comments.

14 Responses to Resources for Becoming an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant

  1. sjm 28 March 2014 at 20:50 #

    Reblogged this on You are a good mama and commented:
    I often get asked how to become an IBCLC. And I love it! But my responses were often long and cumbersome. Now, ILCA has a straightforward article about becoming an IBCLC with links to more in-depth information when necessary. I’ll always happily answer questions on how to become an IBCLC, but this article is a great place to start!

  2. Laura 6 October 2016 at 13:10 #

    Looking for in-person ibclc training. Is that not a thing? What did people do before the internet?

  3. Tamara Clark 16 December 2016 at 16:28 #

    I am working toward becoming anot IBCLC. I have just completed my CLC course. I have all of the required college courses and some of the continuing education courses. Do I need to complete all of the continuing education courses before applying to sit for the exam?

  4. Quratulain 5 January 2020 at 13:55 #

    Can we give exam in UAE
    How long does this course will take

    • Sukeshini Kate 9 January 2022 at 11:34 #

      In India shall I attend lecture & exam online & how can I get certificate online.
      Or i have to attend it in respective country

  5. Paige 23 April 2020 at 15:19 #

    Hi, just wanted to share the “LEAARC Approved Courses” link is not working. 🙁

  6. Donna Jo Humphrey 17 July 2020 at 09:32 #

    How dose everyone get the 14 health and science to become a ibclc?

  7. jesieree salazar 16 September 2020 at 05:50 #

    hi i just want to know if i am qualify to be IBCLC
    how to become ibclc?
    what are your requirements

    • lactationmatters 17 September 2020 at 14:21 #

      Hello! We are thrilled to hear that you are interested in joining the profession. The International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners (IBLCE) can guide you through the process of identifying which pathway is right for you. Learn more here:

  8. Dixie Whetsell, MS, IBCLC 16 January 2021 at 17:22 #

    It appears this article was originally posted in 2014. Some of the links no longer work. The link to the ILCA Lactation Management Course Directory no longer works because when ILCA updated their website they eliminated the section of the website dedicated to lactation training. I have looked and I cannot find lactation training information on the new ILCA website. Please let me know where this info is located on the current ILCA website if I am wrong. In addition, the link to the list of Clinical Instructors was last updated in 2017.

    If ILCA wants to support those hoping to become IBCLCs, they should provide a section on the current ILCA website that offers updated information about becoming an IBCLC, lactation training resources and links that work to listings of approved and accredited lactation training courses, as well as an updated listing of Clinical Instructors.

    • Support 8 February 2021 at 11:05 #

      Thanks for reaching out, Dixie! Although this article was posted in 2014, it was updated in the last six months to reflect changes at IBLCE, including COVID-related changes. We have subsequently reviewed and updated the one broken link – appreciate the catch!

      We have passed along your feedback to share this information (and an updated list of Clinical Instructors) on the website as well as here at Lactation Matters.

  9. Shakur parker 24 January 2021 at 20:51 #

    I want to become a lactation coach

  10. Pooja Bhandari 16 January 2022 at 11:03 #

    I am Pooja Bhandari ,Assistant Professor from Pokhara University,Nepal.I want to be a certified lactation consultant. Would you help me please to get the course.


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