Child Life Specialists

Child life specialists work in health care settings to help infants, children, adolescents, and their families through illness or injury. One of the primary roles of the child life specialist is to ease the anxiety and stress that often accompany hospitalization, injury, or routine medical care. Child life specialists help children, adolescents, and their families maintain living patterns that are as close to normal as possible, and they try to minimize the potential trauma of hospitalization. Child life specialists do this by providing opportunities for play and relaxation, interaction with other children, and personalized attention. They also encourage family involvement, which can play a major role in helping children and adolescents cope with difficult situations. Child life specialists may help children and their families to develop coping skills and educate them about the experience that they are going through.

Some hospitals refer to their child life specialists as play therapists, patient activity therapists, activity therapists, or therapeutic recreation specialists.

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Quick Facts
Alternate Title(s) Activity Therapists, Patient Activity Therapists, Play Therapists, Therapeutic Recreation Specialists
Duties Help infants, children, adolescents, and their families through illness or injury; help children develop coping skills; explain medical procedures to children and their parents
Salary Range $25,000 to $75,000
Work Environment Primarily Indoors
Best Geographical Location(s) Nationwide; most opportunities available in large, metropolitan areas
Minimum Education Level
  • Bachelor's Degree
School Subjects
  • Health
  • Psychology
  • Sociology
Experience Internship
Personality Traits
  • Helpful
  • Problem-Solving
  • Social
  • Interpersonal
  • Leadership
  • Teaching
Certification or Licensing Recommended
Special Requirements None
Employment Prospects Good
Advancement Prospects Fair
Outlook About as Fast as the Average
Career Ladder
  • Child Life Administrator or Director of a Child Life Program
  • Experienced Child Life Specialist
  • Entry-Level Child Life Specialist

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Health Service Administrator

  • $0
  • 25
  • 50
  • 75
  • 100
  • 100+
Yearly Salary Range (US$ Thousands)