Become an IBCLC


How do I Become an IBCLC?

Do you want to make a positive impact on the lives of those around you? Do you love working with mothers and babies? Do you want to get babes (and Moms!) on the best start for a healthy life? Then becoming an IBCLC may be for you!

An International Board Certified Lactation Consultant® (IBCLC®) is a healthcare professional who specializes in the clinical management of breastfeeding. An IBCLC is certified by the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners (IBLCE®), independently accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) of the Institute for Credentialing Excellence (ICE)

An IBCLC works in a wide variety of settings which may include an inpatient setting, outpatient clinics, or out in the community, through proper breastfeeding management and support, but others choose to use their IBCLC certification in a variety of other ways including leadership, advocacy, professional development, and research in the lactation field.

The International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners has 3 pathways to qualify for their exam.  Each pathway has three requirements:

  1. General College Education Courses
  2. 90 hours of Lactation Specific Education and
  3. 300-1,000 Lactation Specific Clinical Experience Hours (required hours vary by Pathway)

Visit the IBLCE website to review the pathways and decide which one fits your background the best.

Below is a brief overview of the three different options:

Pathway Overviews

Pathway 1

Candidates following Pathway 1 demonstrate completion of the following requirements:

  • Be educated in one of the clinical healthcare professions on the IBLCE Recognised Health Professions List OR provide evidence from a governmental authority that recognises your profession as a clinical health profession OR complete education in each of the 14 health science subjects.
  • 90 hours of lactation specific education completed within 5 years immediately prior to applying for the IBCLC examination.
  • 1000 hours of lactation specific clinical practise within 5 years immediately prior to applying for the IBCLC examination. Lactation specific clinical practise is to be obtained in an appropriate supervised setting. The following are tips on how hours meet the requirements:
    • Clinical practise is to be obtained in an appropriate supervised setting, to include the following:
      • Hospital
      • Birth Centre
      • Community Clinic
      • Lactation Care Clinic/Practice
      • Primary Care Practitioner’s Practice/Office
  • Adherence to, with attestation, the Code of Professional Conduct for IBCLCs.

Pathway 2

For candidates who have access to an academic program offering a degree in lactation consulting where they will complete all the IBLCE requirements through the degree program. IBLCE has a list of currently available academic lactation programs.

Pathway 3

For candidates who have other backgrounds not included in Pathways 1 or 2. Pathway 3 candidates demonstrate completion of the required college level general education courses, the continuing education courses and lactation-specific education.

Pathway 3 is also appropriate for healthcare professionals who cannot acquire the necessary breastfeeding management experience on the job (e.g. an RN who works in the ICU).

Pathway 3 candidates then complete OBRC’s clinical training program where they will work with experienced IBCLCs in a variety of settings (hospital, clinic, community, milk bank).

For those who choose the IBLCE Pathway 3 (Lactation Specific Clinical Experience via Mentorship), the Oklahoma Breastfeeding Resource Center offers a 6-month, full-time, clinical training opportunity.  Information on the OBRC Pathway 3 program is below.

OBRC’s Pathway 3 Clinical Training Program

At OBRC, we help prepare the next generation of lactation consultants by providing our own Pathway 3 Clinical Training program. This helps those who qualify to obtain clinical experience hours through our 4-month, full-time, clinical rotation schedule. Here you will gain experience in a variety of settings including inpatient and outpatient areas, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and other high-risk settings, the Oklahoma Mothers’ Milk Bank, as well as out in the community. We offer three different training schedules: Fall, Winter & Summer.

Fall: September - December  Apply by Jun. 15

Winter: January - April  Apply by Oct. 15

Summer: May - August  Apply by Feb. 15

Completion of the OBRC P3 Program fulfills the clinical training requirement to be eligible to sit for the exam put forth by the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners (IBLCE) for designation as an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant / Registered Lactation Consultant (IBCLC/RLC). 

Click here to see the syllabus for our Pathway3 Program

Joining the OBRC Pathway 3 Program

Application Process

OBRC strives to make our application process as easy as possible. Below are some details that will help guide your way. As previously mentioned, our program allows for two different sessions, and all training dates follow the OUHSC University Holiday Calendar:

Prior to applying, OBRC asks for those with interest to have the following completed:

  1. An associate’s degree or higher

  2. A) Be a registered/licensed/recognized health professional in the US -OR- B) Complete all Health Sciences Education requirements as specified by IBLCE. Note that the IBLCE website asks for you to be a prior healthcare professional OR complete coursework in the 14 health science subjects as described on their site linked above. The Health Science College Courses can be taken at an accredited college, and are as follows:

    1. Biology

    2. Human Anatomy

    3. Human Physiology

    4. Infant and Child Growth and Development

    5. Introduction to Research

    6. Nutrition

    7. Psychology or Counseling or Communication Skills

    8. Sociology or Cultural Sensitivity or Cultural Anthropology

  3. Complete all Health Science Continuing Education requirements listed below.  We recommend utilizing online courses provided by LEAARC or UC San Diego.

    1. Basic Life Support (e.g. CPR) - Available at your local hospital, fire department or Red Cross training facility  Medical Documentation

    2. Professional Ethics for Health Professionals

    3. Medical Terminology

    4. Occupational Safety and Security for Health Professionals

    5. Universal Safety Precautions and Infection Control

  4. Provide proof of completion or registration of Lactation Specific Education. We recommend LEAARC.

Once that has been completed, the process is as follows:

  1. Complete a national background check

  2. Complete a drug screen (1-2 months prior to application deadline)

  3. Apply online and submit proof of all of the above requested documents (background check & drug screen) and proof of requirements (immunization records, healthcare credentials, college education transcript, resume, CPR certification and proof of starting or completing a 90 hour lactation course)

  4. Pay the $100 application fee to OBRC (pay online)

Interview Process

OBRC will review your documents and will notify if selected for an interview.

Please allow 7-14 business days for OBRC to contact you regarding your application.

If you are selected as an approved applicant, OBRC will schedule an in-person interview.

At this time, our program allows for one trainee per semester (Spring or Fall).

Program Commitments

For those that are selected as a Pathway 3 Trainee, we ask the following prior to commitment.

  1. Be able to commit to 4-months, full-time clinical training and assignments.
  2. Submit your Pathway 3 application plan to IBLCE for approval. (OBRC will review for approved applicants)
  3. Submit documentation of OUHSC required immunizations. Click here for detais.
  4. Acquire liability insurance coverage once accepted. (CM&F is the leader in lactation liability coverage)
  5. Pay OBRC Clinical Lactation Training fee: $1,900.00. (Can be paid in installments).


I had already been working as an RN in Women's Health when I began thinking about becoming an IBCLC. I decided to do Pathway 3 so that I could get a better understanding of lactation. I'm so thankful that I did! With Pathway 3, I was able to focus solely on lactation rather than trying to learn as well as manage a full patient load.

- M.F. (2019 OBRC Pathway3 Graduate) 

I really enjoyed the pathway 3 program through Oklahoma Breastfeeding Resource Center. I feel that I learned something new every day. I really liked that we got to spend time in labor and delivery, mother baby, NICU, outpatient and at the milk bank.  I felt very prepared in all areas. I enjoyed getting to go to other hospitals and experience the way that they do things. I feel that being a pathway 3 trainee opened up doors for my career and for me to be able to meet my goals as an IBCLC. I met a many different IBCLCs at various hospitals and it has helped me have more connections in the lactation world. Overall I felt very prepared and extremely happy with the pathway 3 program, I have made lifelong friendships and connections and I am very thankful. I would highly recommend the Pathway 3 program through OBRC!

- B.G. (2017 OBRC Pathway3 Graduate)