Before you read on, please note that IBCLC exam requirements are subject to change. Although we believe the following information to be current and correct as of this writing, we encourage you to check the official IBLCE site as you prepare for the exam.
Make a checklist before you tackle the IBCLC exam application
Completing the IBCLC exam application seems mysterious to many candidates. It shouldn’t. The trick is to just know what you need to do, and make sure you do it.
To take the IBCLC exam, you must first complete all of the requirements for the Pathway you selected. Only then can you submit an application. Check the IBLCE’s list of key dates. For example, applications for spring test dates are due the fall before; applications for fall testing dates are due in spring of that year. In other words, you need think about these things well in advance of your planned testing date.
When you get ready to complete your application, make sure you have this information:
Pathway you used to qualify for the IBCLC exam
The IBLCE offers three pathways. Be sure you know what’s what, and be ready to specify which Pathway you used in order to qualify for the exam.
Completion of your health sciences education
This can be a little confusing. If you are already a recognized health professional, as recognized by IBLCE, here’s the simple way for any US-based professional to handle it. Just provide your state license number; that should be sufficient. I’ve given more details here.
Certificate from your 95 hours of lactation specific education
This is easy! Not everyone will need this, but you should have it handy, just in case you get an audit. As a reminder, if you lost your certificate but you did one of my courses, you can easily download a duplicate certificate at any time.
Completion of your lactation specific clinical hours
Before you submit your IBCLC exam application, you must have completed your lactation specific clinical hours within the last 5 years. Be prepared to articulate the number of hours you have completed, as well as contact information from a supervisor who can confirm these hours. Some applicants will be asked for this information; others will not.
This includes your date of birth and country of citizenship.
A word of warning: The name on your application must exactly match the identifying documents that you use on the day you appear for the exam.
Hence, if you apply as Mary Smith, do not show up later at the testing center with a photo ID that says Mary Jones-Smith. Be sure to read the exact instructions on this matter.
Any exam accommodations you will be requesting
If you have a special need, be prepared to say that. Note, too, that the only way that you will be given a break is if you request a break for a medical reason (including breastfeeding your baby) ahead of time.
Otherwise, if you take a break, you will have less time to complete the exam. Last I knew, you also need to have a documented medical need, so please look and see if such documentation is still required. Do not expect another opportunity; apply for the accommodations now.
Preferred testing site
Think about where you would like to take the IBCLC exam. Locations cannot be guaranteed, so the sooner you sooner you apply for the exam, the sooner you will be able to make your appointment for taking the exam.
That means you’ll have a better chance of securing the site nearest your home or office. Remember to be on the lookout for a follow-up notice from the testing company and be ready to specify your preferred location.
Method of payment
IBLCE accepts credit cards and prepaid credit cards only; payment must be in US dollars. (And check to see which specific credit cards they do or do not accept.)
Be prepared to have “room” on your credit card. If you’re in the US, the exam will cost hundreds of dollars. (There are different fees, depending on the country where you taking the exam; the IBLCE fees list can help you plan ahead.)
If you are audited, you will need to provide all of this information; if this happens, you’ll be notified soon after completing your application. Otherwise, you may not need to provide the actual documents. But always be prepared! We’ve talked with many people who were audited.
A note for the future …
You’ll need to look for that follow-up confirmation from the testing center, schedule a day off from work, and more. Make a list of any other details you think you’ll need!
Need help figuring out how to ensure you succeed at the IBCLC exam? We have many resources available, including our popular Online Lactation Exam Review, practice exams and drills, and other study tools. Please call my office at 703-787-9894 or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.