Program Overview

Certificate options

woman helping a new mom in her home

PCC offers two certificate options, the Lactation Education Certificate (IBLCE Pathway 1 or 3) or the Lactation Consultant Certificate (IBLCE Pathway 2).

See which option will work best for you on the IBLCE Pathways chart.

How to become a consultant

International Board Certified Lactation Consultants are trained to offer complete breastfeeding management and care for families. The International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners (IBLCE) is the credentialing organization that sets the requirements for becoming an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). View the IBLCE FAQ for additional information.

In order to become an IBCLC you must complete the following steps.

Step 1: Complete recommended or required college & continuing education courses

IBLCE recognizes that certain health professionals have already completed the required health sciences education in their previous training. Read the list of those IBLCE recognized health professionals. If you are not a recognized health professional, you must complete at least one college credit course (equivalent to one semester) in each of these eight subjects:

  • Introduction to Research
  • Human anatomy
  • Human physiology
  • Sociology or cultural sensitivity or cultural anthropology
  • Nutrition
  • Psychology, or counseling, or communication skills
  • Infant and child growth and development
  • Biology

If you are not a recognized health care professional, you must complete continuing education in 6 subjects:

  • Basic life support (CPR)
  • Medical documentation
  • Medical terminology
  • Occupational safety, including security for health professionals
  • Professional ethics for health professionals
  • Universal safety precautions and infection control

For a list of PCC courses that meet these course requirements, please see the Admissions page.

Step 2: Education in human lactation and breastfeeding

You must complete 90 hours of education in human lactation and breastfeeding in the 5 years prior to taking the exam, so you will want to plan this carefully. The PCC Lactation Education course meets this requirement.

Step 3: Lactation specific clinical experience

IBLCE requires that all exam candidates complete a certain number of hours of lactation specific clinical experience providing assistance to breastfeeding mothers and babies in the 5 years prior to taking the exam. The number of clinical hours required depends on the pathway you qualify for. Clinical experience can include face to face support, phone and email support, and breastfeeding education in a class setting.

PCC offers a Lactation Consultant (IBLCE Pathway 2) certificate that provides 300 hours of clinical experience supervised by IBCLCs in a variety of different settings.

Step 4: Certification exam

After you have completed the above requirements, you are ready to apply to take the certification exam. The exam is given once a year at the end of July in a variety of locations around the world. You must complete the exam with a passing grade to become certified. Once you are certified, you must be recertified every five years.

For additional information about lactation consulting, contact the International Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA). This is a professional association for lactation consultants and other breastfeeding advocates.

Distance options

The  90-hour Lactation course (LEC 201 and LEC 202) offers a unique combination of in-person classes and distance learning classes.  Attendance at the in-person portion of the course is required.  The course dates are scheduled to allow students who are working, or from out of the area to be able to attend. 

Students in the  Lactation Consultant (IBLCE Pathway 2) program who live out of the area will be able to participate in the Clinical Experience terms if they are able to obtain experience locally, and attend distance learning classes.