Do you love working with children? Are you interested in counseling or therapy? A Child Life Specialist might be a good fit for you! Have you ever been given a diagnosis that is hard to understand? Well, that is what you’d be helping children with! It’s a combination of counseling in a hospital setting and working with children.
Child Life Specialist. The name doesn’t give too much away, but what actually is this profession? Child Life Specialists work with children who are diagnosed with chronic or life-threatening illnesses to help them fully understand their diagnosis in a way that suits their age and developmental level. This may be through the use of dolls or fake surgical instruments so they completely understand what will happen to them. Growing up in a hospital can negatively affect development so this position is essential to reduce these effects. Not only do these specialists focus on the emotional well-being of the child, but they also focus on the entire family and ensuring that each family member is equipped with coping strategies to get them through this tough time. Child Life Specialists don’t always work with children as patients. Sometimes they are pulled to adult facilities and educate the children on what will be happening with their parent.
Where do Child Life Specialists Work?
Child Life Specialists usually work in large hospitals, but some may go to the school of a sick child to educate classmates about their illness. A child would be anyone in a pediatric unit of a hospital, anyone up to 18 years old. However the majority of the time you would be working with younger children who have a harder time comprehending new medical information. There is even the possibility of working in medical clinics, hospices, schools, camps, or even patients’ own homes. Child Life Specialists usually work around 40 hours a week. Typical days don’t really exist in this field, as you shape your day on the needs of your patients, so flexibility is a must.
Child Life Specialists need a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in a related field such as child development, psychology, counseling, or education. They also must complete 480 hours of clinical work through an internship. It is highly recommended and most employers require national certification.
Career Opportunities and Outlook
This position is growing rapidly and expanding to fields beyond hospitals such as the court system and dentistry. Child life specialists can expect a median salary of $60,000.
Children in stressful situations need support from professionals who understand the situation better than they or even their families do. If you’re interested in working with children in this type of environment and you want to learn more, schedule a Career Coaching appointment today!