Child life specialists work as members of the health care team typically in hospitals. Increasingly, though, specialists are finding employment outside of hospitals at such places as rehabilitation centers, hospices, and ambulatory care facilities. Most child life programs in hospitals are autonomous and report to hospital administrations as other departments and programs do.
Child life programs often work with school programs within hospitals. Specialists may work with teachers to coordinate the curriculum with recreational activities. They also may encourage hospital administrations to provide adequate classroom facilities and highly qualified teachers.
Your internship may provide you with valuable contacts that can give you information on job leads. In addition, the career services center of your college or university should be able to help you locate your first job. The Association of Child Life Professionals offers its members use of a job bank that lists openings at hospitals and clinics. You may also contact hospitals' placement offices directly for information on available positions.
Becoming certified and keeping up with new developments through continuing education workshops and seminars are the first two steps anyone must take in order to advance in this field. The next step is to get a graduate degree. Advancement possibilities include the positions of child life administrator, assistant director, or director of a child life program. Advanced positions involve management responsibilities, including overseeing staff and coordinating a program's activities. Those in advanced positions must also keep their knowledge up to date by completing continuing education, attending professional conferences, and reading professional journals.
Join the Association of Child Life Professionals (ACLP) to access a variety of resources. For example, it offers its members use of a job bank that lists openings at hospitals and clinics. Visit https://aclp.nationalhealthcarecareers.com for more information. Career development resources are also available online to members.
Read industry publications—such as the ACLP's Journal of Child Life (https://www.childlife.org/membership/the-journal-of-child-life)—to learn more about trends the field.
Become certified by the ACLP in order to show employers that you have met the highest standards established by your profession.
Participate in internships or part-time jobs that are arranged by your college’s career services office.