What Training Is Required to Be an Obstetrician?

If you want to become an obstetrician, you'll need to go through at least ten years of education and training. This includes completing an undergraduate degree program, medical school, a residency and, possibly, a fellowship. Read on to learn how these training requirements can ensure you have the necessary skills to treat patients. Schools offering Health Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Obstetrician Job Description

Often combined with the field of gynecology, obstetrics is a medical specialty concerned with women's health, especially reproductive health. As an obstetrician, your focus will be on treating pregnant women before, during and after childbirth.

You may deliver babies naturally or via cesarean section. You may also perform tubal ligation and other surgeries involving the female reproductive organs. Your work may involve helping patients who are having trouble becoming pregnant or going through a high-risk pregnancy.

Obstetricians' work hours may be sporadic; you must be on call to deliver babies and respond to emergencies any time of the day or night. You may work in a clinic or hospital, or you may work in private practice.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual wage (May 2018) for an obstetrician is $238,320/year or $114.58/hour.

Important Facts About This Field of Study

Degree/Certification Levels Must have a Bachelor's degree (there is no mandatory field of study for pre-med students, although a major in some type of science is probably best)
Prerequisites Inorganic/Organic Chemistry, Biology, and Physics; must take an MCAT prior to applying for medical school
Common Careers As an Obstetrician, one can expect to work in settings such as a private practice/group practice, clinics, or hospitals
Online availability May be able to take some undergraduate classes, such as core classes, online. However medical school is all hands-on.
Job Growth (2016-2026) 16% (for obstetricians and gynecologists)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Medical School

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the first two years of a medical school program often require you to complete coursework in topics like biochemistry, pathology and pharmacology, along with courses in medical law and ethics (www.bls.gov). You'll also be trained in basic patient-care procedures, such as collecting medical histories and conducting physical examinations. The final two years are spent working directly with patients in supervised clinical rotations in specialty areas, such as pediatrics, psychiatry, obstetrics and internal medicine.


After completing medical school, you can begin your obstetrical training through a residency program. You may complete rotations in a hospital's emergency medicine and ultrasound departments or in an obstetrician's private practice. Some programs also require you to attend seminars, lectures and grand rounds to supplement your academic training. In addition, you may be required to complete a research project in an area of interest, such as autoimmunity and endometriosis, antenatal fetal testing or preterm labor. Typically, obstetrics residencies last about four years. You'll be paid for your work during this period.


After you complete your residency, you may choose to receive additional training in a subspecialty of obstetrics, such as gynecologic oncology, gynecological surgery, reproductive endocrinology or maternal-fetal medicine. As a fellow, not only will you receive additional training in your subspecialty, but you may also teach medical students and residents. Fellowship programs can last between one and three years.

Licensing and Certification

A license is necessary in order to legally practice medicine in your state of residence. While still in medical school, you'll begin the process of earning your medical license. This process entails passing the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). You will typically take the first part of this three-step exam while in your second year of medical school and the second part during your fourth year. You'll take the final part during your first or second year of residency.

If you want to show competency in obstetrics, you can earn optional board certification through the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology (www.abog.org). To qualify, you'll need to have completed medical school and a residency program. You may then sit for the board's written and oral certification exams. In order to maintain your board certification, you'll need to engage in lifelong learning and periodically demonstrate both your cognitive and practical expertise in the field.

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