How Much is the Salary of a Child Life Specialist?

Working with children’s psyche isn’t in everyone’s expertise. In our today’s society, there is this profession called child life specialist. People with this job work with children and help them to cope with trauma, serious or terminal illness, or death. It can be a tough job as handling children isn’t the same as handling adults. Knowing how hard it is to be a child life specialist, you may wonder how much is the salary of a child life specialist.

How Much is the Salary of a Child Life Specialist?

Some people may have not heard anything about this specialist job. Therefore, it’s not weird if they wonder about this profession’s job description. Let’s discuss child life support as a profession, and not to forget the salary of a child life specialist.

  • What is a child life specialist?

As earlier mentioned, a child life specialist often hired to provide psychological comfort for kids who are having trauma, terminal illness, or even facing death. A child life specialist helps them to adapt well to the environment that may ‘damage’ them psychologically: making it easier for anyone to do their job later; such as a health care provider.

Therefore, it is safe to also say that people in this profession work to help children to deal with any physical pain, anxiety, and fear they are having. The children’s positive psychological experience is what they set as the goal. In addition, they may work in hospitals, hospice programs, courtrooms, or even in bereavement groups. So, they are not only affiliated with health centers. It can be said the majority does work in hospitals.

  • How much is their salary?

Per 2018, the average salary of a child life specialist is $53,000 throughout the country. Just like other jobs, the salary depends on the location of work and experiences that someone has. Another source said that the mean salary is approximately $49,000; with the lower quartile has $38,900 on average while the higher quartile owns a mean salary of $60,200, both counted annually.

The entry-level child life specialist salary indeed will be different from the mid-level child life specialists working on the same institution. The salary of a child life specialist in a suburban area will be lower than one in the metropolitan area – even for the same level of experience. However, how big the institution is may also play a number.

How to become a child life specialist?

Before they get the salary of a child life specialist, they have to complete a university degree in psychology, family psychology, child and family studies, social work, or early childhood education. Following that, an aspiring child life specialist should complement their knowledge with more related classes.

An aspiring child life specialist will be required to complete at least 10 related classes, such as child life, sociology, counseling, family dynamics, human therapeutic recreation, cultural diversity, and many else. They may even be required to complete a class in pediatric nursing since they are working with children in the future.

Shortly after that, it’s highly recommended for them to join a child life internship. They can obtain a fellowship too under a true child life specialist supervision. If they want to pursue a career in a hospital, then in general they have to complete their 480-hour clinical work – which is unpaid.

A paid internship should follow the process then. They can opt for any hospital for an internship and make themselves accustomed to life as child life specialists. At this stage, they can apply for certification as a child life specialist – which later ends their long wait.

  • Pros and cons

Despite the quite fulfilling salary of a child life specialist, there are still debates here and there regarding should one be a child-life specialist or not.


  • Are you a child lover? Then this one is perfect for you!
  • It can get you to help children and parents to pass their hard times
  • The job involves a lot of teaching
  • Days are not boring. You may even get to play with the kids!


  • Quite low pay (for some!)
  • Rough hours, which lead to high burnout rates
  • The job requires you to be strenuous and patient

So, that’s a bit of information about the salary of a child life specialist. It’s an interesting job, but at the same time, challenging. Besides requires dedication, it also needs patience and a lot of physical energy to deal with the challenges.

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