How to Become a Midwife (Duties, Salary and Steps)

It’s a highly rewarding career!

Reviewed by Chris Leitch

How to become a midwife

Being a part of someone’s pregnancy and childbirth experience is a special and rewarding moment.

Midwives have an important part to play in this, by offering specialist healthcare and advice to mothers-to-be and new parents. The role is as challenging as it is rewarding and takes a lot of preparation and planning to get started.

If you think becoming a midwife is the right role for you, then read on to learn more about this career, what to expect if you work as a midwife, as well as useful tips on how to become one.

What is a midwife?

Midwives are trained healthcare professionals that look after women during pregnancy, childbirth and afterwards, known as the postpartum period. They also provide care to newborn babies.

Midwives provide a range of care, from education and counseling to practical healthcare support and dealing with emergencies. Nurse midwifery roles are more senior and carry more responsibility.

What are the different types of midwives?

There are different types of midwives that provide different levels of care. Sometimes the type of midwife available depends on geographical location, too:

  • Certified Midwife (CM): Non-nurse midwives with specialized training. Their level of responsibility might vary.
  • Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM): Registered nurses who have specialized and certified training in midwifery. They typically work in healthcare settings like hospitals.
  • Certified Professional Midwife (CPM): CPMs undergo specialized training to provide independent healthcare away from hospitals, like home births.
  • Direct-Entry Midwife (DEM): Trained in midwifery through non-nursing routes. They typically provide general care such as counseling, advice and support.
  • Lay Midwife: Lay midwives have no professional training and are generally self-taught or informally trained. They might provide midwifery services in isolated communities.

What do midwives do?

Though the level of midwifery care might depend on the level of training an individual midwife might have, here are some general job responsibilities they have:

  • Providing prenatal care, tests and checkups on the health of the mother-to-be and the baby
  • Providing care during childbirth, such as emotional support, pain relief and assisting with labor techniques, recognizing and responding to complications
  • Supporting with postpartum care, especially in the first 28 days after birth
  • Coaching parents on self-care and infant care techniques, such as exercise or baby feeding
  • Educating parents and prospective parents on infant-related healthcare and family planning advice
  • Consulting with other healthcare professionals, such as gynecologists or pediatricians where necessary

What is their workplace?

Midwives have a varied working environment. Whereas many midwives might be based in hospitals, others might work in private clinics, birthing centers, or even visit people’s homes to help deliver babies there. In this case, frequent travel will be required. There will be time needed in an office, completing administration and evaluating patients.

Midwifery might be mentally and physically demanding. The role can be stressful at times, and midwives will need to adapt to the needs of their patients, crouching, bending over, walking and standing for long periods of time.

How many hours do they work?

In most settings, midwives usually work between 35 and 40 hours a week. Their working pattern, though, might vary in accordance with the nature of their work. Midwives might work longer days, around 12 hours, as well as early shifts, late shifts, weekends and holidays.

How much do they earn?

Midwife salaries can vary depending on the level of training that has been completed, as well as other factors, such as location and seniority.

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey, the mean annual wage midwives is $122,450 per year ($58.87 per hour).

The annual wage at the 10th percentile is $77,510 ($37.27 per hour), and $171,230 S$82.32 per hour) at the 90th percentile.

The top-paying state for midwives is California, with a mean annual wage of $169,530, followed by West Virginia ($165,780), Hawaii ($156,020), Massachusetts ($143,870) and Oregon ($136,150).

In a snapshot:

Midwife Salary

What is the job outlook for midwives?

The job outlook for midwives is positive, according to the BLS Employment Projections survey, with the number of roles in the US expected to increase from 8,200 in 2022 to 8,700 by 2023, an increase of 6.4%, which is more than double the average job growth in the US of 3%. This growth is fueled by the rising need for healthcare and patients’ desire for a greater level of care.

Self-employed midwives account for only 0.8% of the role’s labor market, which is projected to remain relatively stable between 2022 and 2032, at around 100, increasing by only 3.9% in that 10-year period. The number of midwives employed via total wage and salary employment will increase by 6.5%, from 8,100 in 2022 to 8,600 in 2032.

What are the entry requirements?

Becoming a midwife requires careful planning and preparation at an early stage of your career. Here’s what to focus on in terms of education and degrees, skills, licenses and certifications:


Prospective midwives must complete high school and earn good grades in basic subjects like mathematics and the sciences. They must then earn a bachelor’s degree, with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) being the most useful option and offering the fastest route to licensure.

Skills and qualities

Midwives must draw upon many different skills and qualities, such as being caring, patience and understanding. They must also be analytically good at solving problems and be able to act alone using their technical knowledge and ability. They must have excellent physical strength and mental resilience too.

Licenses and certifications

There are several stages to becoming licensed and certified as a midwife. This might first involve becoming licensed as a registered nurse, becoming CNM-certified via the American Midwifery Certification Board, and finally gaining Advanced Practice Registered Nurse licensure.

Do you have what it takes?

Midwifery is a challenging but extremely rewarding profession. The best midwives are those that not only have excellent technical knowledge and can apply all the skills listed above but also people who have a passion for what they do. This will include understanding and appreciating the needs of mothers and being passionate babies’ wellbeing.

If you’re wondering what your own particular skill set and interests can offer you in terms of a career, or are still considering whether midwifery is the career path for you, then consider taking CareerHunter’s six-part test. This maps out your skills, career goals, interests and values, and matches them to best-fit careers, ones that you might enjoy the most.

How to become a midwife

It takes a fair amount of time to become a midwife, and the career path is closely linked with being a registered nurse, which provides the foundational knowledge and experience that midwifery needs. With that in mind, here are the five key steps to becoming a midwife:

Step 1: Earn a bachelor’s degree

Although Certified Nurse Midwives need a master’s-level education, your journey will begin with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. This degree will give you the healthcare and nursing basics that will allow you to focus on specialist midwifery qualifications further along.

BSN degrees are typically four years long, with at least a year spent gaining experience or in practical training. You can take midwifery-focused electives, such as anatomy, life sciences, medicine or microbiology.

People who are interested in midwifery with a related certificate or degree can look at bridging programs to gain their BSN without the need for four more years of study.

Step 2: Become a licensed registered nurse

Registered nurse licensure is mandatory to become a CNM. You can obtain this license before or after you complete your BSN, but seeing as many registered nurse work experience opportunities require completion of the BSN, it is recommended you complete this first, then work on your licensure.

RN licensure varies state by state, but in general, you will need to complete and pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN).

Step 3: Gain work experience as a registered nurse

As you complete your education and work on licensure, you’ll need to complete significant work experience as a registered nurse to prepare yourself for becoming a midwife.

Post-graduate midwifery and nursing qualifications usually require some form of practical experience in the role, so having this experience in place is essential, with focuses on specialist areas such as labor and delivery, neonatal care, and postpartum care.

The best work experience opportunities will be competitive, so ensure you have an up-to-date résumé. Researching the roles and interviewing effectively for them is important to maximize your chances of success.

Step 4: Become certified

The American Midwifery Certification Board looks after CNM certification, and the North American Registry of Wives focuses on CPM credentials.

Certifications culminate in an examination, which usually must be passed within two years of your completion of your post-graduate certification. Prospective midwives must, therefore, lock down an advanced nursing degree as soon as they can before becoming certified.

Advanced degrees and midwifery programs must be accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education. They’ll typically be a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) with electives concentrated on midwifery. These qualifications are typically two years long but can be longer in some circumstances.

Step 5: Become an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse

Gaining Advanced Practice Registered Nurse licensure is the final step to becoming a nurse midwife. This is because midwives are typically recognized by most states as an APRN.

State APRN license prerequisites vary but will typically include CNM certification, completion of a post-graduate level nursing degree, and background checks. Once APRN certification is complete, this allows you to fully and independently practice as a midwife.

The American College of Nurse-Midwives provides continuing education and representation.

Final thoughts

Being a midwife is incredibly rewarding. They are present at one of the most special moments of a mother’s life, as well as helping them prepare for it. The role is hard work and can be physically and emotionally demanding, but it pays well and offers great career development.

Being a midwife requires lots of education and training, and the application of many different skills and abilities. It’s critical to view the job as a long-term career, as it requires lots of certification and licensing. That said, if you put in the hard work, you get a lot out of this very special role. Good luck!

Got a question? Let us know in the comments section below.