How Can I Become a Certified Midwife?

Research what it takes to become a certified midwife. Learn about degree requirements, salary, licensure and employment outlook to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Nursing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Certified Midwife?

There are two levels of certified midwives: Certified Midwives and Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs). These professionals work with expectant mothers to prepare them for birth and assist during labor. They may offer counseling on family planning and pregnancy wellness strategies, and they coach mothers through childbirth. It is important to note that CNMs are qualified to provide a broader range of reproductive health services, including performing and interpreting gynecological examinations, prescribing necessary medications and directly assisting surgeons during cesarean births. They may also provide primary care services to mothers and infants after birth.

Learn more about job responsibilities, education requirements and certification of professional midwives.

Degree Required Master's degree and graduate midwifery program to become a nurse midwife; undergraduate or graduate degree and graduate midwifery program to become a midwife
Education Field of Study Nursing, midwifery
Key Responsibilities Dispense medication, record patients' medical history, conduct physical exams, consult with physicians and other medical staff, help during birth
Licensure/Certification For nurse midwives: licensure as a registered nurse is required; certification is required for licensure
For midwives: certification is required
Job Growth (2014-2024) 25% for nurse midwives*, 14% all midwives**
Median Salary (2015) $92,510 for nurse midwives*, $48,270 for all midwives**

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **ONet Online

What Would I Do as a Certified Midwife?

As a Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM), you would work with a family who is expecting a child to assess their specific birthing needs, teach them about different birthing processes and help with the birth of the infant. You would create a relationship with the expecting family prior to the baby's due date and evaluate the emotional, mental and physical needs of the mother and her family. While the mother is pregnant, you would track her progress to ensure that the mother and baby are healthy. You would be present during the birth, helping the mother and her family to enact their specific birthing plan and to help birth the child in a safe and healthy fashion.

Your role as a midwife also includes knowing when a birth has become complicated enough to require a specialist and notifying the appropriate health care personnel. A Certified Midwife (CM) provides these services in similar capacities, though does not possess a nursing degree, and thus would not have the qualification to provide specific well-woman gynecological care.

What Education or Training Do I Need?

To become a Certified Nurse Midwife or Certified Midwife, you need to have completed an accredited midwifery program at the graduate level. In order to become a Certified Nurse-Midwife, you must have these qualifications as well as an RN degree. The American College of Nurse-Midwives created the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (ACNM-ACME) to accredit both nurse-midwifery and midwifery degree programs (www.midwife.org). Midwifery degree programs are available at the certificate, associate's, bachelor's and master's degree levels and include courses in gynecology, neonatology and basic medical sciences both in the classroom and in a clinical setting. To be admitted to a master's degree program in midwifery, you need to have a bachelor's degree, though it does not necessarily have to be in midwifery or a related field.

How Do I Become a Certified Midwife?

The American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB) offers two certifications, the Certified Nurse-Midwife and Certified-Midwife (www.ambcmidwife.org). The CNM credential is awarded if you have completed a nurse-midwifery program or if you are a licensed nurse at the time of your exam. The CM credential is awarded if you have completed a midwifery program at the graduate level and are not a licensed nurse. The 175-question multiple-choice certification exam will be taken at a licensed testing center on a computer in a testing center.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

CNMs are advanced practice nurses who focus specifically on reproductive health and childcare, but there are other specialization options within this profession. For instance, advanced practice nurses may want to become nurse anesthetists, who specialize in the administration of anesthesia during surgery and other medical procedures. Another option is a job as a nurse practitioner (NP); these advanced practice nurses provide more general primary care services. Like CNMs, they need a master's degree and licensure to practice. A lower-level option for midwives is a job as a registered nurse (RN). This job only requires an associate's or bachelor's degree. RNs who want to work with infants and new mother may choose to specialize in neonatology.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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