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Child Life Specialist

Career Highlights

  • Observe, educate and assist children
  • Also known as Play Therapists
  • Provide family support

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Career Summary

Many child life specialists are members of pediatric health care teams who come together when a child experiences emotional, social, or developmental difficulties. Child life specialists who work with hospitalized children and adolescents may also be called "play therapists," "activity therapists," or "therapeutic recreation specialists."

Child life specialists work with ill or injured children and adolescents to ease the anxiety and stress that comes with hospitalization, long-term illness or terminal illness. They ease the trauma and stress of hospitalization and illness by providing a variety of play, therapy and entertainment. Activities can include things such as art, cooking or video games.

Child life specialists help clarify any concerns or misconceptions children may have and explain the reactions of children to family members. They support the patient’s family and the child’s emotional, social, and cognitive growth in the context of his/her family, culture, and developmental stage. More recently, child life specialists are being employed in non-hospital settings, but are still relating to children and their health care or stressful life situations.

Another responsibility child life specialists engage in is to help school-age children with school work if the child is missing more than a week of school. If a child needs comforting during a procedure, the child life specialist does that. Whatever children need to help improve the quality of their overall life experience in the hospital is what they do.




Requires a degree in:

  • Education
  • Psychology
  • Child development

Career Skills

  • Excellent supervisory skills
  • Research
  • Communication skills
  • Understanding child development
  • Basic medical terminology

Additional Information



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*Salary ranges based on location, experience, and demand. This number represents a rough nation-wide average.