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Child Life Specialist Job Description, Career as a Child Life Specialist, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Training/Educational Requirements: Bachelor degree

Median Salary: $43,665 annually

Job Prospects: Good

Job Description

Child life specialists support and nurture children and their families through the emotional and physical aspects of hospitalization. They work hand-in-hand with the medical team to provide the children and their families the support they need in such an emotionally demanding predicament.

Child life specialists work as the advocate and support staff of the children and their families. They educate and inform the families as to what is going on, and provide emotional support to the children as they go through tests and treatments. Although they do not provide medical care directly, they work with the children on their specific needs and stay with them throughout the entire process.

Through the programs available at the specific medical facility, child life specialists provide as normal of an environment as possible. They provide opportunities for the children to play, thrive, and grow in an abnormal and sometimes difficult environment. Child life specialists work to support children through difficult medical circumstances and strive to provide some sense of normalcy. They are an extension of the medical staff and keep apprised of the condition and treatment regimen for the child, so they can keep the family informed and prepared.

They often stay with the child and their family through various procedures, and offer mental and emotional support. They provide programs that promote growth and development in a time where this level of normal activity may not always be available. Child life specialists make the hospital stay more comfortable and less scary for the children and the families involved. Although they do not handle the medical care, they are usually depended on more than other members of the medical staff. This occurs because the family builds a rapport with their assigned child life specialist. This role requires a love of children, and the emotional capacity to be able to support and assist sick children and their families.

Training/Educational Requirements

There are only a few universities that offer a degree specifically in child life, which happens to be the optimal education. Many child life specialists have a bachelor’s degree in child development which works well in terms of preparation. It is essential for child life specialists to hold a bachelor’s degree that focuses on an area such as child development, early education, recreational development or psychology.

Although there aren’t specific training courses to prepare a child life specialist for their role, it is helpful to keep up with different trends or programs. Whatever the individual does to provide comfort and activities for the child and their family helps prepare them for the job. Keeping up with different programs or activities, or different methods to support the children and their families is extremely helpful.

How to Get Hired

Working with children is an excellent way to get hired into this position. Not only is the educational requirement important, but the ability to work well with children and their families is helpful in getting hired. Working in a daycare, at a school, or through a volunteer program that deals with children is excellent preparation in getting hired.

It is important to exhibit the experience and personality traits essential for this position. An emotional support system is what this role provides, and it is helpful to show examples and traits within this capacity. Any demonstration of that can be fundamentally important in getting hired, along with experience working with children. It’s important for a hospital or medical facility to see the child life specialist as the person for the job, and demonstrate it in the interview.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook, and Career Development

This is a job in high demand, which can be good news for those interested in working as child life specialists. This unfortunately means that there are sick children that require this type of support, but it does mean that there is potential growth within this occupation. More and more hospitals, medical facilities, and community healthcare facilities are hiring child life specialists. Children’s hospitals and specific children wards are gaining much attention for the care they provide, and this means an increase of opportunities for child life specialists.

This isn’t a new position, but it is one that has gained momentum recently. Many medical facilities are beginning to see the value that child life specialists can add to their staff. This role offers the emotional support that medical staff often don’t have time to provide, and programs of great value for the children and their families. This all contributes to the need for this position, and means potential for growth.

Working Environment

The typical working environment for child life specialists is at a hospital or medical facility. They often travel to patients’ rooms and spend time with the children and their families. They move throughout the children’s ward or area, taking care of the needs of the children and their families. They move to specific recreational rooms or areas designated to children in the hospital. Within certain hospitals, this has become a rather robust area that can include a playground or area for children to enjoy activities.

Child life specialists usually have an office where they handle paperwork or consult with the patient’s family, however, they spend most of their time in the hospital rooms. Even though the specific environment varies among medical facilities, the bulk of their time is spent with the patient and their family providing whatever they need.

Salary and Benefits

The average salary for a child life specialist is $43,665 per year. Child life specialists earn anywhere from $39,491 and $48,307 per year. The salary ranges due to geographical location and experience level, as well as the environment. Certain facilities pay more and provide more extensive benefits. The typical benefits for this position generally includes paid vacation and sick days, as well as medical coverage.

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