Child life specialists work with children who are hospitalized or experiencing illness or disability and their families to provide support, resources, and guidance. In the US, child life specialists earn more than $51,000 per year, less than annual earnings of AU$84,000 ($63,887 USD) in Australia, but similar to the US dollar equivalent amount of NZ$71,000 ($48,768 USD) in New Zealand. Annual earnings in Canada and the UK are similar at C$56,000 ($43,648 USD) and £33,000 ($38,726 USD), respectively, followed by South Africa at R161,000 ($11,924 USD) and India at Rs223,000 ($3,460 USD). Earning potential for child life specialists varies based on geographic region, years of professional experience, and work setting as further explained in this guide.
How Much Does a Child Life Specialist Make per Year?
The chart below provides average annual and hourly wages for a child life specialist in select countries worldwide.
|Child Life Specialist Salary||US||Canada||UK||Australia||New Zealand||India||South Africa|
Factors that Influence the Child Life Specialist Salary
A review of salaries for child life specialists shows variances by geographic region, professional experience, and work setting. Additional information on earning potential and working in this career field is provided in this guide.
1. Geographic Area
Child Life Specialist Salary in US
In the US, child life specialists earn about $51,000 per year, equating to an hourly wage of $25 per hour. Total income can be further increased through bonus pay that is close to $1,000. Early career child life specialists receive an annual salary of about $38,000 while senior level professionals see annual earnings reach $63,000.
Child Life Specialist Salary in Canada
Child life specialists in Canada receive about C$56,000 per year, plus another C$1,000 or more in bonus income. Hourly wage earners receive an average of C$27 per hour. Newly trained child life specialists earn about C$41,000 per year compared to those with the most experience at the senior level level who earn well over C$68,000 annually.
Child Life Specialist Salary in UK
The average compensation for a child life specialist in the UK is £33,000 per year in base salary plus another £600 in additional bonus pay. The average hourly wage is £16 per hour. Entry level child life specialists earn an average annual salary of about £24,000 compared to senior level professionals with annual earnings exceeding £40,000.
Child Life Specialist Salary in Australia
Child life specialists in Australia earn well over AU$84,000 per year, or AU$41 per hour, plus about AU$1,500 in additional bonus income potential. New child life specialists see annual salaries of about AU$62,000 per year while those at the senior level can earn well over AU$103,000 annually.
Child Life Specialist Salary in New Zealand
In New Zealand, the average annual salary for a child life specialist is about NZ$71,000 while hourly wages average NZ$34 per hour. Another NZ$1,300 or more in bonus pay can boost overall earnings. The average entry level pay is about NZ$52,000 per year while senior level pay can reach NZ$87,000 per year.
Child Life Specialist Salary in India
As a child life specialist in India, annual compensation averages Rs223,000 in base salary plus another Rs4,100 in bonus income. On average, hourly wage earners see about Rs107 per hour. The average entry level salary for new child life specialists exceeds Rs166,000 per year, increasing with experience to more than Rs277,000 annually for those in senior level positions.
Child Life Specialist Salary in South Africa
In South Africa, child life specialists see annual earnings exceeding R161,000 plus nearly R3,000 in additional bonus income. The average hourly wage is R77 per hour. Early career child life specialists earn more than R119,000 per year compared to senior level professionals who receive nearly R199,000 per year.
Child life specialists see a boost in income of about 66% to 67% with additional experience. The countries with the highest incomes-the US and Australia-see senior level pay increase about $25,000 and AU$41,000, respectively, or 66%. Annual earnings for senior level professionals in South Africa and India, the two countries with the lowest salaries, increase R80,000 and Rs111,000, respectively, or 67%, compared to entry level pay. This is the same percentage of increase for New Zealand where senior level pay is about NZ$35,000 more per year compared to entry level pay.
Child life specialists work primarily in hospitals, clinics, and rehabilitation facilities where children may be staying for extended time periods during medical treatments. Larger facilities handling a larger patient population or are part of a large network, as well as for-profit organizations, may have the budgets to support higher salaries compared to smaller organizations or those with a nonprofit designation.
Many child life specialists work full-time; however, there are ample opportunities for part-time employment. Typically, these professionals work during daily in the early morning to early evening times; however, there may be times when later evenings, weekends, and holiday work is necessary, especially to help children who have experienced traumatic situations.
Bonuses and Benefit Packages
Benefits that include healthcare coverage and paid time off are commonly offered to child life specialists; however, these benefits may be available to only full-time employees. Some employers also offer allowances for training and conferences, professional organization membership, commuting expenses, and meals. While bonus income is seen worldwide, this additional pay does not add large amounts to total earnings.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates growth of about 6% among child, family, and social workers, which includes child life specialists, through 2026. This increase comes as a result of improved access to healthcare, which has increased the number of patients, including children, who receive healthcare and necessary medical treatments. Additionally, these professionals help families deal with the large volume of resources available to them, which also has continued to rise in recent years. A career as a child life specialist requires a bachelor’s degree in psychology, social work, or child development, although those with advanced education may be more competitive for senior level roles.
Child life specialists earn somewhat lower salaries compared to some other healthcare professionals; however, a lower level of education and training is required for this career. Additionally, some child life specialists build upon their career and obtain additional education to move on to senior level positions or other careers in the psychology field. Future growth in the career is expected to remain stable in the coming years, which should sustain income levels and provide opportunities for newly trained professionals wishing to enter this career field.