How to Become a Lactation Consultant

Congratulations on your interest in becoming an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, or IBCLC! PRO-LC, the Pennsylvania Resource Organization for Lactation Consultants, has organized the following information for those interested in becoming IBCLCs, including a resource list of locations willing to provide clinical experience for those wishing to qualify for the IBLCE exam. If you have further questions, please contact our Mentoring Coordinator, Lisa Mandell, at

What are the different pathways for becoming an IBCLC?

The International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners, which administers the exam for IBCLC certification, offers three pathways toward the exam. For detailed information on how lactation specific clinical experiences differ for the different pathways, visit IBLCE here

All pathways require the following:

Lactation Specific Clinical Experience

General education: 8 higher education subjects and 6 continuing education topics

Lactation specific education: 90 hours

A listing of course providers offering lactation specific education is available here:

Pathway 1: This is for those working in a paid or volunteer job providing breastfeeding care to families. This includes nurses working in maternity, volunteer breastfeeding counselors, and others. Candidates pursuing this pathway are required to complete the general education and lactation specific education requirements (see below), and to document 1000 hours of clinical practice in lactation care. It is expected that these candidates will use their paid or volunteer work experience to count toward this clinical practice, but some Pathway 1 candidates may benefit from additional supervised clinical experience.

Pathway 2: Individuals seeking qualification through Pathway 2 must graduate from an accredited academic program in human lactation and breastfeeding (these are limited at this time). This pathway requires 300 hours of clinical practice in lactation care directly supervised by current certified IBCLCs who are supervised by the academic program director. Pathway 2 candidates may wish to review our resource list for clinical experience locations.

Pathway 3: This is for those without a background in either maternal/child health or volunteer breastfeeding counseling. (If you have those backgrounds, you may wish to pursue Pathway 1.) Candidates pursuing this pathway are required to complete the general education and lactation specific education requirements (see below), and to submit a plan for 500 hours of clinical practice in lactation care supervised by a recertified IBCLC.

FAQs on becoming an IBCLC

What should I do first?

You probably want to talk to some lactation consultants to find out about their work, explore different practice settings, and consider what kind of work you want to do and whether working as a lactation consultant will meet your needs and goals, before you decide to move forward. Once you know you want to work toward certification as an IBCLC, your first steps will be to complete the general education and lactation specific education.

How do I find clinical experiences?

The following locations may have clinical internships in lactation available. You may contact the lactation consultant listed and find out more information about their program and opportunities; the information listed here is subject to change. Internships require completion of lactation specific and general education prior to starting, and will require payment (fees are listed here for some facilities, but are subject to change; you should contact the facility to confirm the fees). To work as a lactation consultant intern, you will need to have professional liability insurance, which is available through several insurers; the United States Lactation Consultant Association (USLCA) has arranged for low-cost liability insurance for student lactation consultants as well as practicing IBCLCs.


Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia is offering an internship package for three qualified individuals. If you have completed all of your didactic education, this may be a good fit for you to gain experience in an in-patient setting, level 3 intensive care nursery, and our out-patient lactation care setting. Approximately the first 150 hours will be 3 days/week, Monday, Thursday, and Friday, after which you may choose to increase your days. Pennsylvania Hospital is a Baby-Friendly designated hospital that has offered IBCLC care to patients since the dawn of our profession. Cost of the program is $5000 for up to 500 hours, plus administrative costs related to background checks required for onboarding. If you would like more information, contact

The Village- South Jersey Breastfeeding and Wellness Lactation Services
41 N. Haddon Ave.
Haddonfield, NJ
text or call: 856 942 4305
Just a few blocks from the Haddonfield PATCO train station
This program can take one or two interns at a time.

Robin B. Frees, BA, CHt, IBCLC
Lactation Services
The Chester County Hospital
701 E. Marshall St., Rm N220
West Chester, PA 19380
This program will be able to take one intern at a time.

Colette M. Acker, IBCLC
Executive Director
Breastfeeding Resource Center
1355 Old York Rd. Suite 101
Abington, PA 19001
Clinical hours available in an outpatient center. Applicants should send their resume to Internship cost: $10/hour.

Linda Derbyshire, IBCLC
Center City Pediatrics
This internship would ideally occur after completing a hospital setting internship to establish the basics in breastfeeding to appreciate the continuity of care needed to support mother and baby from day 3- 1 yr. Internship cost: $10/hour.

Andrea B. Judge, MPH, IBCLC
Interim Program Director and Clinical Coordinator, Human Lactation Certificate Program
College of Nursing and Health Professions
Drexel University
1601 Cherry Street,  3rd Floor, Room 351
Philadelphia, PA 19102
Tel: (267) 359-5819   and  Human Lactation Consultant Program

These private practice lactation consultants work part-time doing home visits. They would not be able to offer significant hours of clinical experience, but can provide some hours to complement experience from other sources.

Liz Brooks, JD, IBCLC, FILCA
Serving mothers in Montgomery and Philadelphia counties.

Lisa Mandell, MBA, IBCLC
Serving mothers on the Main Line, and in Delaware and Philadelphia counties.

For an aspiring lactation consultant following Pathway 3, you need a Chief Mentor to coordinate your clinical experiences. The following lactation consultant is willing to serve as a Chief Mentor.

Robin B. Frees, BA, CHt, IBCLC
Phone: 610-644-1379

What are other resources that might be helpful?

This page lists a variety of resources that may be helpful as you prepare to become an IBCLC:

How long will it take to become an IBCLC, and what will it cost?

Answers to both questions will depend on your situation, the education you already have, and the choices you make. If you are not already a health care professional, you will need to take a number of general education courses that could take a year or more depending on how much time you can devote to coursework. You will have to complete 90 hours of lactation education, which may be done in an intensive two-week course, or online over many months, or through conference attendance, or a variety of these choices. The clinical experience might take anywhere from three to eighteen months to complete. The costs will vary based on these choices as well.

What kind of jobs are available for IBCLCs?

IBCLCs are hired at hospitals, pediatric practices, WIC offices, health clinics, and breastfeeding centers, and some IBCLCs have their own private practices. Some facilities may require IBCLCs to also be RNs. Many IBCLCs work part-time; full-time positions are limited at this time.

Where can I learn more about lactation consulting?

Join PRO-LC, and come to our meetings. You can meet and talk to IBCLCs, ask about their work, and start learning from our speakers.

It is also valuable to join the International Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA), which offers a low-cost student membership. This membership gives you access to all that ILCA offers, including online-only access to the Journal of Human Lactation.  More on benefits of joining ILCA here.

Are any scholarships available?

Yes. The Monetary Investment in Lactation Consultant Certification (MILCC) is an international non-profit organization that provides scholarships for exam candidates.

And. PRO-LC will pay the cost of the exam for a qualifying minority candidate who is of low socio-economic status.

For details and an application, click here