You took all of your courses, fulfilled all of your requirements, and sat for the IBCLC exam. And then you waited. Waited for your test scores to be posted — you passed! Or maybe, you’re thinking about becoming an IBCLC and wonder what kind of positions you might be able to hold. In either case, you might be asking yourself, “Where can I work with my IBCLC certification?” or “Where can I work as an IBCLC?”
Hospital or healthcare facility
Naturally, one of the first places one would expect to find a position to work as an IBCLC would be at a hospital. And that’s certainly true!
Perhaps the real question is whether you can get a job in a hospital you have only an IBCLC certification. The short answer is, Yes. It is entirely possible. Is it common or likely here in the United States? No. Is it easy to do here in the United States? No.
While you do not need to be a nurse in order to become an IBCLC, it is very common for hospitals to employ IBCLCs who are also RNs, or hold some other kind of credential.
I realize that IBCLC-only individuals feel that they have been slighted because the hospital hired an RN. But as someone who has worked in hospitals for decades, I urge you not to take this personally.
There are many complexities which you would not understand. The IBCLC is performing some nurse-like duties, yet she isn’t a nurse. Trust me on this, having spent a little time in a high-level nursing administrative position, I know there are legal issues, structural issues, financial issues, compliance issues and more that create complexities in hiring and retaining a non-RN IBCLC.
Another question is: Do you think you’d enjoy a job in a hospital if you’re not a nurse. You may find that being in such a medically-oriented environment feels suffocating. Honestly, I miss the hospital every day of my life. But I don’t miss the medical mindset, the politics, the bureaucratic baloney, and the fact that progress moves at a snail’s pace. So, if you’re a non-nurse, think about it.
Your role in the facility
However, if you are a nurse, you may still wonder about what your role is, now that you have your IBCLC certification. Honestly, it’s different for everyone. My job did not change one iota after I got my IBCLC certification. Even now, people tell me that’s their story, too.
Yet, others tell me that getting their certification helped them land a bigger job, or a better job or just a different job. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer here.
And by the way, I don’t know about places outside of the US.
Community-based clinics and settings
IBCLCs may also work in pediatric offices, women’s health outpatient clinics. Similarly, some Some IBCLCs worked as peer counselors prior to gaining their certification. A WIC Breastfeeding Peer Counselor does not need to be an IBCLC, and sometimes gaining employment as a peer counselor after gaining the IBCLC certification can be create some role confusion, but it is certainly possible.
IBCLCs may also work in public health clinics. The possibilities are endless.
Starting your own business can sound daunting and overwhelming, but it is an option for many people. Working in private practice does not necessarily mean that you must start your own business from the ground up. You might prefer to join an existing private practice, or work at a private physician’s office providing breastfeeding support to patients.
I’ve described only the tip of the iceberg here. There are a variety of opportunities available to IBCLCs, with possibilities beyond what I’ve mentioned here. If I haven’t already given you an idea for your dream job, be sure to tune in to a special IBCLC Day podcast later today featuring IBCLCs sharing their own personal stories.
Are you already working as an IBCLC? What kind of position do you hold and where are you based? If you’re starting on your IBCLC journey, have you given thought to where you might like to work? Share your thoughts in the comments below!