Certified Nurse Midwife Career Guide | NurseJournal (2023)

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

Certified Nurse Midwife Career Guide | NurseJournal (4)

(Video) Nurse Midwife Salary | How Much Money Do Nurse Midwives Make?

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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 vaginal 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

    (Video) Steps to Becoming a Nurse Midwife | Tips for Success | Wellness Wednesdays | Global Midwife

    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.

Certified Nurse Midwife Career Guide | NurseJournal (5)

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.

Certified Nurse Midwife Career Guide | NurseJournal (6)

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.

(Video) What it’s like to be a Certified Nurse Midwife

Certified Nurse Midwife Career Guide | NurseJournal (7)

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.

Certified Nurse Midwife Career Guide | NurseJournal (8)

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.

Certified Nurse Midwife Career Guide | NurseJournal (9)

(Video) 6 Steps to Becoming a Certified Nurse Midwife | Nurseist

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.


What else can I do with a midwifery degree? ›

Employment opportunities
  1. Preceptee Midwife.
  2. Community Midwife, Home Birthing.
  3. Health Promotion Specialist.
  4. Health Visitor in training.
  5. Intensive Care Neonatal Nurse.
  6. Volunteer Midwife (Overseas)

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).

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.

Is being a midwife worth it? ›

Being a Midwife is perhaps one of the most fulfilling and rewarding careers you could choose. Not only will you be supporting women throughout and after their pregnancies and bringing new life into the world, you'll also learn a variety of skills whilst on the job and receive great working benefits.

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.

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

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.

Who are the highest paid nurses? ›

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) earn a nationwide average of $202,470 per year according to the BLS; this makes CRNAs the highest-paying type nursing job by a significant margin.

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 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 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 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.

What does a midwife do on a typical day? ›

monitoring and administering medication, injections and intravenous infusions during labour. monitoring the foetus during labour. advising about and supporting parents in the daily care of their newborn babies. helping parents to cope with miscarriage, termination, stillbirth and neonatal death.

What are the cons of midwife? ›

  • 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 midwife schooling hard? ›

The journey to becoming a Nurse-Midwife is challenging and long, requiring years of education and clinical preparation. But the rewards of practicing Nurse-Midwifery make all the hard work and sacrifice worth the effort.

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 is better a midwife or an ob? ›

If you're low risk and leaning toward a water birth or hypnobirthing, an experienced midwife is who you'll want to look into. But regardless of risk, if you think you'd be more comfortable with a medical doctor providing your care, then an OB-GYN might be the best fit.

Do nurse midwives perform Pap smears? ›

In addition to working side-by-side with OB/GYNs, CNMs even offer many of the same services as these doctors, helping care for women and their families at every stage of life. They can perform your yearly well-woman exams and Pap smears. They can prescribe birth control pills and insert IUDs.

Why I chose a midwife over an Obgyn? ›

Many women choose to use a midwife because it gives them more options for their birth plan. You have more control over your birthing experience, from where you choose to deliver your baby to the type of drug interventions you're comfortable using.

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).

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.

Can you advance as a midwife? ›

Advancing your career as a nurse-midwife

Nurse-midwives may move into managerial positions, jobs in education, or research. If you earn your doctoral degree in nursing (DNP), you may be eligible to work as a nursing professor. Other requirements will vary by school, including experience working as a nurse-midwife.

What type of nurses are the happiest? ›

Let's take a look at some nursing specialties where nurses report being happiest.
  • School Nurse. ...
  • Labor and Delivery Nurse. ...
  • Case Management Nurse. ...
  • Nurse Educator. ...
  • Parish Nurse. ...
  • Travel Nurse.
26 Aug 2022

What type of nurse is most in demand? ›

Registered nurse (RN)

BSN-prepared nurses are the most sought-after RNs in the job market and can advance to leadership and management roles more quickly than the ASN nurse.

What is the hardest nursing specialty? ›

Here are just a few of the specialties our readers mentioned — along with a little insight into what makes these nursing jobs so difficult.
  • Oncology. There's no surprise that this specialty is near the top of the list. ...
  • Hospice. ...
  • Medical-Surgical. ...
  • Geriatric Care. ...
  • Emergency Room. ...
  • Psychiatry. ...
  • Correctional Nursing.

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 practitioner? ›

Certified nurse-midwives supervise births, which women's health NPs do not have the licensure to do. Women's health nurse practitioners can act as primary care providers, unlike certified nurse-midwives, and provide care for women throughout their lifespan, not just during pregnancy.

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.

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

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.

Is a nurse-midwife a stressful job? ›

As in any field of Nursing, a nurse-midwife can be a very stressful job. Nurse-midwives are on-call throughout the day, as emergencies often arise. Certified nurse-midwife must be alert and ready for all circumstances that could occur.

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 a midwife be called a doctor? ›

Is a midwife a doctor? No, a midwife is not a doctor. While licensed and certified midwives are highly trained, they cannot perform cesarean sections on their own.

What personality should a midwife have? ›

There are many personal qualities and skills needed to be a midwife, including: an understanding and caring attitude. an ability to get on well with people from a wide range of backgrounds. emotional and mental strength.

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.

Why did I choose to become a midwife? ›

The main reason nurses get into their profession is that they want to care for patients, and the same is certainly true for midwives. Midwives have a passion for women's healthcare and want to extend their knowledge to their patients.

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

What GPA do you need for CNM? ›

You need one of the following: A high school diploma with a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or higher. ACT or SAT scores.

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.

What are the current issues facing midwifery? ›

The profession is ageing rapidly, with over 1,000 NHS midwives in England now in their sixties; one in three is now over the age of 50. An inability and unwillingness to offer flexible working opportunities to midwives juggling family commitments leads to even more leaving the profession.

Do midwives stay with you during labor? ›

We all take turns working at the hospital. There is a midwife at the hospital 24/7, and one of us will be with you when in labor or if a problem arises.

Are midwives just as good as doctors? ›

Most CNMs have experience working with moms and babies before attending graduate school. The final step is to pass a national certification exam. Both types of practitioners are fully trained and capable of delivering your baby. However, nurse midwives cannot provide all the services that a doctor can.

Why use a midwife instead of a doctor? ›

In general, midwives tend to have more time to answer all your questions and help you learn about the physical and emotional changes you experience throughout pregnancy. A midwife can also help you think about what kind of birth experience you want – and she'll support you in your decision.

What are the cons of being a midwife? ›

  • 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.

Can midwife give epidural? ›

Some midwives can prescribe epidurals, but midwives can't give epidurals. They consult with an anesthesiologist or a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA). Anesthesia providers are typically available in hospital settings only.

Can midwives do C sections? ›

2.1 Delivery ward Midwives will normally attend the caesarean section for a woman in labour. If labour ward is busy the midwife in charge will negotiate with the nursery to attend and resuscitate the baby.

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.

Can a midwife perform an ultrasound? ›

If you decide to work with a midwife, that doesn't preclude procedures like ultrasounds and genetic testing during your pregnancy. Some midwives study to offer additional services, such as basic ultrasounds to check amniotic fluid levels, Anderson said.

What is a doula vs midwife? ›

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.

Do midwives do Pap smears? ›

In addition to working side-by-side with OB/GYNs, CNMs even offer many of the same services as these doctors, helping care for women and their families at every stage of life. They can perform your yearly well-woman exams and Pap smears. They can prescribe birth control pills and insert IUDs.

Which is higher nurse or midwife? ›

General nursing is a much broader career pathway compared with midwifery. There are also many specialist areas in nursing including Diabetes Specialist, Oncology, Orthopaedic, Dialysis and dermatology, to name a few.

Is a 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.


1. So... You Want to Be a Midwife?
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2. 3 Tips for Finding Your First Nurse Midwife Job | Wellness Wednesdays | Global Midwife
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3. What Does a Certified Nurse Midwife Do? | Oakdale ObGyn
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5. Pros and Cons of Being a Nurse Midwife | Wellness Wednesdays | Global Midwife
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6. Certified Nurse Midwife | Julia Martin, CNM, MSN, MPH, Nurse–Midwifery | UCHealth
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