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Difference Between Breastfeeding Certifications: IBCLC, CLC, CLE and Others

by Healthy Horizons on October 06, 2020

Finding the proper expert guidance when it comes to your breastfeeding journey, or when creating a workplace lactation room is instrumental to your success. With all the acronyms for lactation support, it can be confusing to know what the different types of education and training mean.

Not all certifications require the same training. We will compare the differences between the International Board of Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC), and the Certified Lactation Educator (CLE). The CLC certification requires a minimum of a 45 hour course with a 2.5 hour test administered by The Academy of Lactation Policy and Practice (ALPP), while the CLE programs are provided by various private companies with variable standards. The IBCLC is the ‘Gold Standard’ in lactation support and takes years to accomplish with many other requirements. Only an IBCLC can be a Registered Lactation Consultant (RLC).

Healthy Horizons staff are highly trained professionals and are predominately International Board of Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLC). The majority of our other staff have earned their Certified Lactation Educator certificates (CLE's). The team's IBCLCs, along with engineers, design our mother’s room programs. Our IBCLCs lead all our classes and one-on-one breastfeeding consults with patients.

Book a lactation consultation with a board certified IBCLC. Consultations are offered online, at our Breastfeeding Center, and in-home for parents in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Improve your workplace corporate lactation program by connecting to our corporate services team that manages workplace lactation programs everywhere in the United States.

This infographic compares the IBCLC, CLC, and CLE certifications.


If you are curious about other certifications not included in the comparison, below is a comprehensive list of breastfeeding certifications and titles. The definition of these and other breastfeeding certifications are broken into three categories, board certified medical professionals, certified consultants, and certified educators.

Board Certified Medical Professionals

Board of Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) - IBCLCs are allied health care providers certified by an international body. The certification program is based on guidelines developed by the U.S. National Commission for certifying agencies. They are the only lactation professionals whose services can be reimbursed by insurance companies, and that are recognized by the U.S. Surgeon General.

IBCLCs have a broad educational foundation, have obtained 300 to 1,000 hours of clinical practice, have earned 90 hours of education in lactation related courses, and have passed an examination administered by the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners (IBLCE). IBCLCs must meet continuing education requirements to uphold their certification. Every 10 years they must retake the examination administered by the Board. The re-examination requirement will change in 2022. The Board monitors practitioner safety and ethics through a disciplinary process, their mission is to establish the highest standards in lactation and breastfeeding care worldwide and certifies individuals who meet these standards. IBCLCs work at Healthy Horizons, in hospitals, physician offices, WIC offices, and in other private practices. You can verify that a Lactation Consultant is currently Board Certified here.

Certified Educators


Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC) - CLCs are professionals in lactation counseling who have demonstrated the necessary skills, knowledge, and attitudes to provide breastfeeding counseling and management support to families who are thinking about breastfeeding, who have questions, or problems during the course of lactation.

Certified Lactation Educator (CLE) - CLE programs are provided by various private companies and organizations. They have variable standards. CLEs are qualified to teach families about preparing for their infant, how lactation works physiologically, common challenges to expect, and other general lactation support.

Lactation Educator Counselor (LE or LEC) - LECs are typically health professionals who have received 5 days of on-site or online education and training. They complete periodic testing.

Certified Breastfeeding Counselor (CBC) - CBCs are nurses who are also counselors and educators in lactation management.

Certified Breastfeeding Educator (CBE) - The CBE certification is conferred by Lactation Consultation Services™, and is in effect for five years.

Peer Educators

Women Infants and Children Peer Counselor (WIC Peer Counselor) - All WIC programs should offer peer counseling support services that encourage breastfeeding and support the needs of the families they serve.

La Leche League Leader (LLL) - LLLs are volunteer breastfeeding counselors who have breastfed their own babies, and are active in providing breastfeeding support in their communities.

by Healthy Horizons on March 01, 2023

That’s amazing Jenny! Do you have any questions about the process or options? Let us know, we’re cheering you on!

by JENNY Zamor on March 01, 2023

I want to be board certified eventually but for now I will do the quickest most affordable option.


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