Midwife assisting a pregnant woman in the delivery room

How to Become a Nurse Midwife

Duties, Responsibilities, Requirements, Certifications, Job Outlook, and Salary

Midwife assisting a pregnant woman in the delivery room

There are a variety of nursing specialties that Registered Nurses (RNs) can pursue once they’ve earned their license. Every specialty has its own unique job responsibilities, work environments, and perks. There are also varying educational requirements depending on the position. Nurses who are passionate about helping patients through pregnancy, labor, and childbirth may find becoming a Nurse Midwife the next step in their careers.

Nurse Midwives are highly trained nurses that specialize in primary and reproductive care for women and their children. They work with mothers to ensure their safety during childbirth as well as the safety of the newborn child.

(Click here to see our full list of top paying nursing careers)

For anyone considering this noble profession, we put together a comprehensive guide on how to become a Nurse Midwife. Continue reading to further understand the role of a Nurse Midwife, their responsibilities, education requirements, job outlook, and salary.

Nurse Midwife Definition

What is a Nurse Midwife?

A Nurse Midwife is an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) who is responsible for the gynecologic and primary care of women. Nurse Midwives specialize in women’s reproductive health and childbirth. They provide care to expectant mothers and their newborn babies during child labor and post-delivery.

It is important to know the difference between a Nurse Midwife and a regular or lay Midwife. A Nurse Midwife is required to have formal education and certification, while lay Midwives are not. Nurse Midwives combine formal education in nursing with the hands-on experience of a Midwife. A Nurse Midwife is an RN who can work in many different medical areas and provide a wide range of medical services to mothers and their newborn babies. A lay Midwife works only in labor and delivery. Nurse Midwives are RNs with formal medical training, they can provide much of the necessary prenatal and postnatal care for pregnant mothers.  Because many complications can occur during birth, few doctors in the U.S. recommend home birth or delivery by lay midwives.

Nurse Midwife: Job Description

What Does a Nurse Midwife Do?

As previously mentioned, Nurse Midwives play a major role during childbirth. Their biggest responsibility is to ensure the safety of mother and child throughout the delivery process.

However, Nurse Midwives also support the health and wellness of their patients before and after child delivery. They provide family planning services, gynecological checkups, and prenatal care.

Nurse Midwife Jobs

Where Do Nurse Midwives Work?

Since Nurse Midwives have certification in both nursing and midwifery, there are several healthcare settings where they can work, both public and private. These include hospitals, birth centers, universities, and private physician practices.

Some of the daily responsibilities held by a Nurse Midwife include:

  • Performing routine gynecological checkups
  • Coaching and caring for mothers throughout the labor and childbirth process
  • Educating women on their child-birth options based on their unique health conditions
  • Helping mothers create birth plans based on their preferences
  • Teaching new moms how to breastfeed and care for their babies
  • Providing newborn care for the first 28 days

Maternity nurse holding a newborn baby

Nurse Midwife Schooling & Certification

How Long Does It Take to Become a Nurse Midwife?

What Degree Do You Need to be a Nurse Midwife?

Like many of the highest paid nursing specialties, Nurse Midwives must be prepared to dedicate around 6 to 8 years towards higher education. Included in this time estimate is a period of general work experience, preferably in labor and delivery or maternal/newborn areas. That’s because many Nurse Midwife programs and employers prefer candidates with previous RN experience. Prospective Nurse Midwives will typically spend a few years on the job before applying to a graduate program.

With that in mind, here are the steps to becoming a Nurse Midwife:

1. Earn your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree

The first step to becoming a Nurse Midwife is earning your Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degree (BSN). A BSN program will take about four years to complete unless you’ve already earned your associate’s degree in nursing (ADN). Students who’ve already earned their ADN can enroll in an RN-to-BSN program which can be completed in as little as 20 months.

2. Pass the NCLEX-RN exam

Once you’ve earned your BSN, you’ll have to pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to earn your nursing license. Once you’ve passed the NCLEX, you’ll be certified as a nurse (RN) and prepared to jump into the workforce.

(Click here to read our NCLEX-RN Exam Review & Study Guide)

3. Gain Experience Working as an RN

Before applying to a midwifery program, candidates usually have at least one year of experience working as an RN. RNs with prior work experience have acquired a solid foundation in nursing and are better prepared to become effective Nurse Midwives once they’ve graduated.

Furthermore, many graduate schools require a few years of experience before accepting students into their nurse practitioner programs.

4. Earn a Graduate Degree from an ACME-Approved Program

To become a Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM), candidates must earn a Master of Science in Nursing degree (MSN) from a program accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (ACME). An MSN degree is the most common graduate degree earned by Nurse-Midwives. You may also obtain your Ph.D. from an ACME-approved program. MSN degrees usually take about 18–24 months to complete, while doctorate degrees typically require 2–3 years of full-time education.

5. Pass the National Certification Exam

Once you’ve earned your graduate degree, you’ll be one step away from officially becoming a Nurse Midwife. Before entering the workforce, you’ll need to pass the official midwifery exam offered by the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB). The examination is computer-based and consists of 175 multiple-choice questions. Each candidate is given four hours to complete the exam.

Nurse Midwife Salary

How Much Do Nurse Midwives Make?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the average salary* for Nurse Midwives was about $114,000 per year as of 2021. The highest earning 10% of Nurse Midwives can make up to $166,000 or more per year. In fact, Nurse Midwives rank among the highest paying nursing specialties.

Highest Paying Industries for Nurse Midwives

Some of the highest paying industries for Nurse Midwives include:

Industry Average Hourly Pay Average Salary
Outpatient Care Centers $70.40 $146,430
General Hospitals $57.64 $119,900
Physician Offices $54.77 $113,920
Colleges & Universities $51.51 $107,130
Specialized Hospitals $38.67 $80,440

Highest Paying States for Nurse Midwives

Some of the highest paying states for Nurse Midwives include:

State Average Hourly Pay Average Salary
West Virginia $78.46 $163,190
Utah $69.18 $143,890
California $65.90 $137,070
Massachusetts $62.19 $129,360
New York $60.66 $126,170

Highest Paying Cities for Nurse Midwives

Some of the highest paying cities for Nurse Midwives include:

City Average Hourly Pay Average Salary
Charleston, WV $81.47 $169,460
San Francisco, CA $78.27 $162,800
San Jose, CA $75.76 $157,570
Sacramento, CA $72.59 $150,990
Salt Lake City, UT $64.40 $133,950
Los Angeles, CA $64.26 $133,660
Milwaukee, WI $63.26 $131,580
Boston, MA $62.36 $131,580
New York, NY $62.01 $128,970
Portland, OR $60.17 $125,160

Midwife examining an expectant mother

What is the Job Outlook for Nurse Midwives?

The BLS reports that the overall employment of Nurse Midwives will grow 45% by 2030, which is faster than the growth of all occupations (8%).

The overall job growth will occur due to an increase in the demand for health services. As the population continues to grow, more Nurse Midwives will be needed to assist in pregnancies and childbirths.

Nurse Midwife Career

Are You Ready to Start Your Career as a Nurse Midwife?

Pregnancy and childbirth are some of the most important moments in a woman’s life. Nurse midwifery is a great option for those who are passionate about childbirth and looking to make a career out of providing care to mothers in need. While the educational requirements are extensive, the difference in salary* and job responsibilities will make up for the time spent in school. If you’re looking to become a Nurse Midwife, you can start by earning your BSN degree at Provo College.

Click here to learn more about our BSN program.