How Much Does a Lactation Consultant Make?

Breastfeeding can be difficult, especially for women who experience premature birth, poor milk supply, or baby-related issues such as suckling difficulties or a painful nipple. Fortunately, there is help out there. Lactation consultants are healthcare professionals who specialize in breastfeeding, and they can help new mothers manage the challenges that can arise during this special time of their lives.

How to Become a Lactation Consultant

To become a lactation consultant, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree in nursing or a related field. You will also need to earn certification from the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners (IBLCE). Once you have this credential, you can work as a lactation consultant.

You may be able to find entry-level positions as a lactation consultant in hospitals, midwives or OB GYN practices, community health centers, home health agencies, private physician offices, and WIC (the federal supplemental nutrition program for low-income families) clinics. You can also volunteer with a non-profit organization like Breastfeeding USA or the local chapter of Baby Cafe USA to gain valuable hands-on experience before you apply for paid employment as a lactation consultant.

How Much Does a Lactation Consultant Make?

A lactation consultant’s pay depends on a variety of factors, including years of experience and where they work. Generally, lactation consultants can expect to make between $62,500 and $109,500 per year.

The top 10 percent of lactation consultants earn more than $97,341, while the bottom 10 percent makes less than $62,530. However, most certified lactation consultants are employed as nurses or other health professionals who have taken a course to become certified.

How to Become a Nurse

In the US, most employers prefer nurses with an IBCLC certificate or RN status to those who are not. This is a trend that will likely change as more hospitals and other facilities realize the need for lactation support in their staffs.

Some hospital lactation programs employ both part-time and full-time IBCLCs to provide inpatient and outpatient services. These lactation consultants can be seen in the neonatal, pediatric, obstetric and midwifery departments. They also work with family members, other medical staff and other hospital patients as needed.

If you have an RN license, this can be an added benefit when applying for paid jobs as a lactation consultant. If you don’t, you will need to complete 1,000 hours of clinical experience before you can take the IBCLC exam. This can be completed by working full-time as a lactation consultant, volunteering for an IBLCE-sanctioned nonprofit organization, or taking classes at a community college or university.

How to Become an IBCLC

To become an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), you must complete a two-year nursing program with coursework in anatomy, physiology, and other related subjects, as well as courses in the human reproductive system, pediatrics, public health, and maternal-child nutrition. You will then need to pass a certification exam and receive a letter of completion from the board.

You can start this career at any age, but most certified lactation consultants are between the ages of 30 and 71. The majority of certified lactation consultants have a bachelor’s degree or higher. Many also have additional qualifications such as a master’s or associate degree.