Certified Nurse Midwife Career Guide | NurseJournal (2024)

how long to become 6-8 years
job outlook 45% growth from 2020-2030
average earning potential $114,210 SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Does a Certified Nurse Midwife Do?

MSN required

certification required

CNMs work in a variety of practice settings including hospitals, community clinics, and birthing centers. While their primary role centers on women's healthcare during pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period, CNMs provide primary care, gynecological care, and family planning services for women throughout their reproductive years and menopause. Some CNM responsibilities are listed below:

Primary Responsibilities

  • Provide prenatal, delivery, and postnatal care to women and monitor newborns
  • Offer assessment, diagnosis, and treatment
  • Treat both males and females for sexually transmitted diseases
  • Offer education and counseling in health promotion and disease prevention

Skills Learned

  • Patient care for all aspects of pregnancy, labor, and delivery
  • Communication and leadership skills
  • Technological proficiency
  • Patience and compassion

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Credit: SDI Productions / E+ / Getty Images

Where Do Certified Nurse Midwives Work?

This list describes the various roles performed by CNMs in some of the most common workplace settings.

  1. These CNMs work with obstetricians handling vagin*l and surgical births. They assist with pain management and provide personal care to pregnant women and infants.

  2. 2

    Birthing Centers

    These CNMs diagnose and treat gynecological conditions and monitor women during pregnancy. They may offer family planning and contraception counseling and treat sexually transmitted diseases.

  3. 3

    Public Health Clinics

    These CNMs diagnose and treat gynecological conditions and monitor women during pregnancy. They may offer family planning and contraception counseling and treat sexually transmitted diseases.

How Is a Certified Nurse Midwife Different From a Direct-Entry Midwife or a Traditional Midwife?

A CNM must hold a graduate midwifery degree, a valid registered nurse (RN) license, and certification through the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB). This certification qualifies them to apply for licensure in any of the 50 states.

The direct-entry midwife designation includes both certified midwives (CMs) and certified professional midwives (CPMs). Unlike CNMs, direct-entry midwives may obtain certification without first becoming licensed nurses. While CMs may enter the field without nursing training, not all states allow them to practice. Most direct-entry midwives hold the CPM credential — the only certification that provides training for out-of-hospital deliveries.

Traditional midwives lack formal nursing education but have acquired training through direct experience. These unlicensed midwives, typically working with poor and/or rural populations, rely on their experience, knowledge of traditional (or folk) medicine, and the trust of the communities they serve. However, they might not have a legal right to practice midwifery, though this will depend on the state where they live and/or practice.

How to Become a Certified Nurse Midwife

CNMs must earn both undergraduate and graduate degrees to become a certified nurse midwife, acquire an RN license, and get national certification and licensure in the state where they intend to practice.

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Graduate with a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN).

An associate degree takes two years and a bachelor’s degree takes four years to earn.

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Pass the NCLEX-RN exam to receive RN licensure.

After earning their degree, students apply for state licensure and register for the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) exam. State nursing boards use exam results to determine whether nurses have the necessary knowledge to practice.

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Apply to an accredited master’s or doctoral midwifery program.

RNs with BSN degrees may enter either master’s or doctoral programs offering midwife specializations. While both degrees prepare graduates for certification, a doctorate can lead to broader career possibilities.

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Graduate with your master of science in nursing (MSN) or doctor of nursing practice (DNP) in midwifery.

A master’s takes approximately two years to complete, whereas a DNP requires four years or more. Prospective CNMs should make sure their coursework and clinical hours fulfill state licensure and national certification requirements.

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Pass the AMCB exam.

Before entering nurse midwife practice, most nurses obtain CNM certification. This credential requires an RN license, a graduate nursing degree, and a passing score on the AMCB exam.

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How Much Do Certified Nurse Midwives Make?

The average annual nurse midwife salary, as of May 2021, was $114,210. The BLS projects the demand for nurse midwives to grow by 45% between 2020 and 2030. CNMs can expect the highest salaries in major metropolitan areas, where they earn annual average salaries ranging from $125,160 in Portland, Oregon, to $169,460 in Charleston, West Virginia.

Several factors contribute to this favorable employment outlook. Hospitals and clinics hire nurse midwives to handle low-risk pregnancies and assist in nonsurgical births to lower costs and reduce complications. The demand for midwives has also grown as more women choose natural childbirth and birth center options.

Top-Paying States for Certified Nurse Midwives
Top-Paying StatesAverage SalaryTotal Number of Certified Nurse Midwives
West Virginia$163,190N/A
New York$126,170490
Top-Paying Metropolitan Areas for Certified Nurse Midwives
Top-Paying Metropolitan AreasAverage SalaryTotal Number of Certified Nurse Midwives
Charleston, WV$169,460Data Not Available
San Francisco — Oakland — Hayward, CA$162,800240
San Jose — Sunnyvale — Santa Clara, CA$157,57080
Sacramento — Roseville — Arden-Arcade, CA$150,99090
Salt Lake City, UT$133,95090
Top-Paying Industries for Certified Nurse Midwives
IndustryAverage Salary
Outpatient Care Centers$146,430
General Medical and Surgical Hospitals$119,900
Offices of Physicians$113,920
Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools$107,130
Local Government (excluding schools and hospitals)$104,670

Frequently Asked Questions About Certified Nurse Midwives

Do nurse midwives deliver babies?

CNMs who typically work with pregnant individuals experiencing low-risk pregnancies may deliver babies in hospital and out-of-hospital settings such as home births and birthing centers. Nurse midwives do not induce labor and try to avoid pain medication during the birthing process. In hospital settings, they assist obstetrics and gynaecology (OB-GYN) doctors who manage both low-risk and high-risk pregnancies.

What are the benefits of earning a doctorate for nurse midwives?

The nursing profession has begun to advocate for the DNP as the terminal degree for advanced practice nurses, including nurse midwives. Earning a DNP not only enhances career prospects in administrative and educational roles but also boosts salary. The nursing field recognizes the relationship between doctoral-level training and improved healthcare delivery, quality, and safety.

How long does it take to become a certified nurse midwife?

BSN graduates may earn a master's in two years or less or a BSN-DNP in approximately 3-4 years. Those entering the field with only an RN can choose RN-to-MSN or RN-to-DNP programs that may take longer. Direct-entry programs for students with non-nursing undergraduate degrees may require between 2-4 years of study, including prerequisites and clinical requirements.

What skills are important for nurse midwives?

Nurse midwives acquire specialized nursing and technological training in reproductive and gynecological healthcare and the skills needed to provide primary care through pregnancy and childbirth. CNMs also need "soft skills" to work with diverse populations, or the ability to function in high-stress situations, strong communication skills, leadership qualities, and a caring and compassionate approach to patient care.

Resources for Certified Nurse Midwives

  • American College of Nurse-Midwives

    This professional organization represents CNMs and CMs in the United States. Members receive discounted registration fees to the annual ACNM meetings and a subscription to the Journal of Midwifery & Women's Health. The association promotes education, research, and networking through an online news site, weekly newsletters, and an online discussion forum.
  • Midwives Alliance North America

    Established in 1982, MANA provides resources for advocacy, research, and professional education for midwives from diverse backgrounds. The organization offers membership to midwives, students, and other healthcare providers and consumers. Benefits include liability insurance discounts, subscriptions to professional journals, and continuing education opportunities. MANA midwife members may join the Mothers Naturally registry.
  • American Midwifery Certification Board

    AMCB, the leading national certification agency for the profession of midwifery, manages the certification program for nurse midwives who have graduate-level degrees accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education. The organization develops and administers the national certification examination, awards initial CNM and CM certificates, and administers the certification maintenance program for certificate renewal.
  • Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses

    AWHONN supports RNs caring for women, newborns, and their families through research, education, and policy initiatives. The association, through its legislative action center, advocates for laws and regulation that improve healthcare for women and newborns and strengthens the nursing profession. Members benefit from professional development opportunities, awards and scholarships, podcasts, and collaborative industry and community partnerships.

Related Pages

Certified Nurse Midwife Career Guide | NurseJournal (2024)


What type of midwife gets paid the most? ›

With their advanced education and skills, certified nurse midwives (CNMs) typically rank among the highest-paid nurses, with a median salary of $111,130, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

What are the career opportunities for a midwife? ›

Career path and progression

You could take further training to specialise in areas like ultrasound or neonatal care. With experience, you could become a ward manager or team leader. You could also train to become a health visitor, a director of midwifery or midwifery consultant.

How much do CNM make in Florida? ›

Nurse midwives in Florida earn an average of $91,160 per year (or $43.83 per hour). Florida nurse midwives earn 20% lower than the national average salary for CNMs, at $114,210 (or $54.91 per hour).

How many hours a week does an CNM work? ›

The hours a certified nurse midwife (CNM) works vary depending on the organization, facility, or practice group, as well as their preference. Some can work 8-hour days, 40 hours a week in the clinic. Some may work 10 or 12-hour shifts in the hospital. Some may work both shifts during a workweek.

Where do certified nurse midwives make the most money? ›

Second on the list of top paying states for CNMs is Utah, with an annual salary of $133,680, and not too far behind is Mississippi, where Nurse-Midwives can earn up to $127,960 a year.
Nurse-Midwife Average Salaries in most states*
StateAnnual salaryHourly Salary
48 more rows
5 Oct 2021

Is a midwife a good career choice? ›

Midwife is a good job for people who want to educate women about health issues and help pregnant women to have a healthy labor and delivery. This is also a good career choice because there is a strong job outlook. Nurse midwives are expected to see significant growth in job opportunities in the coming years.

Is midwife in high demand? ›

Job growth for certified nurse midwives is strong—7 percent through 2031, according to the BLS. In addition to demand, a career as a nurse midwife or in other APRN specialties can be attractive because these nurses practice with a high degree of responsibility and autonomy.

Is it hard being a midwife? ›

You will be physically, emotionally and mentally pushed to your limits in this job. It's not all sunshine and roses and not every ending is a happy one in maternity.

How do I start a career in midwifery? ›

The first step to becoming a midwife is to take a degree level programme approved by the Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC). This may be a full-time undergraduate or postgraduate degree or midwifery degree apprenticeship.

Whats the difference between a CNM and a midwife? ›

CNMs are nurses who have completed a graduate-level nurse-midwife program and passed a certification exam from the American Midwifery Certification Board, while CMs are non-nurses who have complete a graduate-level midwifery degree program and passed a certification exam from the American Midwifery Certification Board.

Is a CNM the same as a midwife? ›

Certified Nurse-Midwives (CNMs) and Certified Midwives (CMs) are educated in graduate-level midwifery programs accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (ACME).

What is a midwife vs doula? ›

There is one significant difference between a midwife and a doula. Midwives provide medical care for you during pregnancy, birth, and the immediate postpartum period. Doulas provide you and your family with emotional, informational, and physical support during pregnancy, birth and the immediate postpartum period.

What are the shift patterns for a midwife? ›

Your standard working week will be around 37.5 hours on shift pattern which can include nights, early starts, evenings, weekends and bank holidays.

What is life like as a midwife? ›

Because midwives support women before, during and after childbirth, the job is diverse. They generally work shifts – AM, PM or night shifts of eight hours and many work part time. While nurses are usually stationed on a particular ward, it's common for midwives to switch between different areas within a hospital.

How long are CNM programs? ›

Most Certified Nurse Midwife programs are 2 to 3 years in length. During the program, students will take courses such as Physiology and Pathophysiology, Advanced Primary Care Nursing, Intrapartum and Postpartum Care, and Care of the Childbearing Woman.

Which nursing position makes the most money? ›

The 10 Highest Paid Nursing Jobs in 2022
  • Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist – $202,000.
  • Nursing Administrator – $120,000.
  • Neonatal Intensive Care Nurse – $120,000.
  • General Nurse Practitioner – $118,000.
  • Critical Care Nurse – $118,000.
  • Certified Nurse Midwife – $114,000.
  • Informatics Nurse – $102,000.
5 Sept 2022

What is the highest paid labor and delivery nurse? ›

Labor and Delivery Nurse Salary Ranges

The majority of labor and delivery nurses earned between $69,100 and $85,900. However, salaries can range from as low as $62,909 to as high as $95,004 according to Salary.com.

Which state pays midwife the most? ›

Best-Paying States for Nurse Midwives

The states and districts that pay Nurse Midwives the highest mean salary are California ($159,590), Utah ($133,680), Mississippi ($127,960), New York ($125,780), and Minnesota ($123,600).

What are the disadvantages of midwifery? ›

  • You will have an irregular schedule. ...
  • You may experience terrible birth outcomes. ...
  • You may be sued. ...
  • You will work long hours. ...
  • You may have to be on call. ...
  • You may work nights. ...
  • You may work weekends. ...
  • You may work holidays.

Is midwifery easier than nursing? ›

While they share many soft skills, a nurse and midwife often use different technical skills and knowledge. Midwives require extensive knowledge about labour and delivery methods. Nurses may use a variety of technical medical knowledge related to their specialisation.

Is it stressful being a midwife? ›

Partaking in the everyday miracle that is birth is something that constantly draws people into the midwifery profession, but that's not to say being a Midwife isn't without its challenges. In this role, you work hard typically over a long shift in environments that are often emotionally intense.

What is the average age of a midwife? ›

The median age of Midwives is 45 years.
Age Profile (% Share)
Age BracketMidwivesAll Jobs Average
Median Age4540
8 more rows

Can a midwife become a nurse? ›

Pass the Nurse-Midwife Certification (CNM) exam by the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB). Apply to become an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN). Start practicing and continue education to retain your license.

What makes a successful midwife? ›

A good midwife is personable, trustworthy, funny, well-informed, and someone new mothers can depend on in their times of need. Midwives are the main point of contact for expectant parents. They provide evidence-based information and advice that will help them navigate their pregnancy and prepare for motherhood.

Why do midwives leave the profession? ›

Midwives are being spread too thinly across the service because there are just too few of them. That's compromising the level of care they want to give to pregnant women and it's driving many of them out of the profession.

What college is best to become a midwife? ›

Top Midwifery Schools & Programs 2022
  • Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN.
  • Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, OR.
  • University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI.
  • University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA.
  • University of Minnesota - Twin Cities, Minneapolis, MN.
  • University of Washington, Seattle, WA.
21 Apr 2022

Can midwives wear makeup? ›

Make-up is also fine as long as it's modest rather than the kind you might use on a night out! Also, no false lashes… The only jewellery you can wear is one plain metal ring with no stones in and one small, plain stud in each ear (the lower part of the lobe).

Can I become a midwife without going to university? ›

The qualifications you'll need

To become a midwife you'll need a degree in midwifery, which takes three years to complete. If you're already a registered adult nurse, you can undertake a shorter course instead, which takes 18 months.

How do midwives make money? ›

Salaries of certified nurse-midwives tend to vary depending on the state as well as level of experience, cost of living and other factors. Most CNMs are salaried employees of hospitals, birthing centers or clinics, while others work independently and are paid per birth.

Can a midwife become a gynecologist? ›

Can a Midwife Become a Gynaecologist? Ultimately, if an already-established midwife would like to undertake the extra training, they could most definitely become a gynaecologist or an Ob/Gyn.

What are the 4 types of midwives? ›

Types of midwives
  • Certified nurse midwives (CNMs) ...
  • Certified midwives (CMs) ...
  • Certified professional midwives (CPMs) ...
  • Direct entry midwives (DEMs) ...
  • Lay midwives. ...
  • Doulas.

Is a midwife higher than a nurse? ›

In addition to training as a nurse, the nurse-midwife has completed a higher education program (either a master's or doctoral degree with a focus in midwifery) and performed hundreds to thousands of additional clinical hours both managing primary care patients and attending births during their training.

Which is better CNM or WHNP? ›

CNMs tend to focus more on providing medical care to women of childbearing age, pregnant women, and newborn babies, while WHNPs focus on providing general and reproductive health care to women across the life span, from menarche on to old age.

Can CNM insert IUD? ›

Midwives can provide a range of reproductive and gynecological healthcare services, including annual well-woman visits, contraception (including IUD insertion), fertility counseling, lab testing, and more — anything that doesn't “involve an incision,” explains Chloe Lubell, CNM, WHNP, a certified nurse midwife and ...

What is a modern midwife called? ›

They're called Certified Nurse-Midwives (CNM) and have a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution as well as a certification from the American College of Nurse Midwives. Midwives are commonly certified as International Board Certified Lactation Consultants, with advanced knowledge on the breastfeeding process.

Can I see a CNM if Im not pregnant? ›

'” The truth, however, is that midwives are able to offer the same attention and care to women who are not pregnant. “Certified nurse midwives provide reproductive/sexual health care from menarche (first menstrual period) to post-menopause (last menstrual period),” says Borden.

How do I become a midwife without a nursing degree? ›

You can do a Bachelor of Midwifery (BMid) and become a midwife without studying any other kind of nursing. The Bachelor of Midwifery is usually a three year, full-time university degree course. However, there are different study options you can choose from.

Why choose a midwife over a doctor? ›

Many women choose a midwife over a doctor because they want additional emotional support before, during and after delivery. A midwife will get to know you, your family and your preferences over the course of your pregnancy.

What is below a midwife? ›

A midwife is a health care provider, while a doula is more of a childbirth coach.

What are the two categories of midwife? ›

Nurse Howell points out that there are two categories of midwives – the community midwife and hospital midwife.

What skills does a midwife need? ›

Skills required to be a midwife
  • an understanding and caring attitude.
  • an ability to get on well with people from a wide range of backgrounds.
  • emotional and mental strength.
  • good observation.
  • an ability to act on own initiative.
  • patience.
  • maturity.
  • willingness to take responsibility.

What other job can a midwife do? ›

Employment opportunities
  • Preceptee Midwife.
  • Community Midwife, Home Birthing.
  • Health Promotion Specialist.
  • Health Visitor in training.
  • Intensive Care Neonatal Nurse.
  • Volunteer Midwife (Overseas)

What do midwives do in a day? ›

In addition to being a partner for Mom and family during pregnancy and through labor and delivery, midwives also provide post-partum care — assessing blood pressure, checking incisions, and monitoring physical healing.

Do midwives work 12 hour shifts? ›

For any healthcare professional, Nurses, Midwives, Doctors and so on, 12-hour shift work is our norm, and it does take a little bit of time to get used to. For those of you who are going into Nursing or Midwifery careers, you will be working 12-hour shifts, especially as a Student Nurse or a Student Midwife.

How many classes is full-time at CNM? ›

The standard course load for a full-time college student is 12 to 18 credit hours. Students wanting to take more than 18 credit hours must meet the following conditions: Have a college-level cumulative grade point average of 2.5 and. Have no grade lower than a C in the last term enrolled in college and.

Is tuition free at CNM? ›

Specialty Programs - Tuition

Fall 2022 start: Fall 2021, $3,000; Spring 2022, $2,950; Summer 2022, $2,950; Fall 2022, $2,950.

How long does it take to become a band 7 midwife? ›

Bands 4 – 7

Band 5 will have three step points, taking a minimum of two years to progress from the entry step point to the mid step point and then a further minimum of two years to progress to the top of the band.

Do midwives earn more than nurses? ›

The other thing you need to bear in mind is although midwives get paid more than nurses if you choose nursing there are many more different career paths to take within nursing then there is midwifery because midwifery is already specialized where as with nursing you could take any route such as adult/ child/ mental ...

What is Band 6 midwife? ›

Job/Role Summary

To work in partnership with women and give the necessary support, care and evidenced based advice to them during the antenatal, intranatal and postnatal period. Also to provide care for the newborn in the postnatal period.

Is there a demand for midwives? ›

Midwives can make a difference to these shocking outcomes. But recent research shows their numbers are sorely lacking. According to The State of the World's Midwifery 2021 report (SoWMy 2021), the world currently needs 900,000 more midwives. This represents a third of the required global midwifery workforce.

Where is the best place to be a midwife? ›

US midwives who want to play an active role in the birthing process should look for work in the Northeast, Pacific Northwest, and Southwest states, as these have the highest numbers of midwives practicing for every 1,000 births; states in the Deep South have the fewest.

What are the 4 levels of a midwife? ›

Today, five types of midwives provide varying levels of care to women and newborn babies:
  • Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM)
  • Certified Midwife (CM)
  • Certified Professional Midwife (CPM)
  • Direct-Entry Midwife.
  • Lay Midwife.

Is the midwifery degree hard? ›

But Midwifery is a demanding course, with long hours and high workload for three full years. Rest while you can. Treat yourself to a few extra hours' sleep and enjoy time off with friends and family while the time is there. There's plenty of time for study when September comes around.

What is a band 9 nurse? ›

Newly qualified, NMC registered nurses start at Band 5, and the most qualified and experienced nursing consultants and specialists can climb all the way to the uppermost pay band, which is band 9. Within each banding, different levels of NHS pay are on offer according to experience.

Is being a nurse midwife stressful? ›

Work environment

Depending on the facility, they may be required to work evening, weekend, holiday, and on-call hours. Nurse midwifery can be a stressful and emotionally draining role, but it is also found to be quite rewarding to help new parents prepare for childbirth and welcome their newborn into the world.

How many hours does a midwife work a day? ›

Your standard working week will be around 37.5 hours on shift pattern which can include nights, early starts, evenings, weekends and bank holidays.

Is it better to do nursing before midwifery? ›

Do I need to be a nurse before I can train as a midwife? No, you do not need to be a nurse first - although this is one of the routes into the profession.

What is a Band 7 midwife? ›

Salaries for newly qualified midwives are set at Band 5, which starts at £25,655. You can then progress to Band 6, which ranges from £32,306 to £39,027. Salaries at Band 7, where you'll be working at a more senior level, e.g. managing a team, are in the region of £40,057 to £45,839.

What do band 7 nurses earn? ›

NHS Band 7 Nurse Salary

This Band caters to Nurse Practitioners or Advanced Nurses and typically requires you to have a Masters degree for entry. In Band 7, Nurses can expect to earn between £40,057 to £45,839 per year. More specifically, a Band 7 Nurses income will be: 0-1 years' experience - £40,057.

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