We encourage persons interested in becoming a midwife to spend some time with a local midwife, learning about the profession, practice settings, and prospects for the future. Use our Find-a-Midwife
search engine to locate a midwife in your local community. In addition, there are a number of books
that are either written by midwives about their lives or include interviews with midwives, that will provide a picture of the life of a midwife.
It is best to have a thorough grounding in basic sciences, such as chemistry, biology, and microbiology. In addition, courses in sociology and women's studies will be very helpful for a career in midwifery. There are many pathways to midwifery education, including an undergraduate degree in nursing, an accelerated RN in route to graduate education in midwifery, or completing science prerequisites then entering graduate midwifery education directly.
All programs accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (ACME) require a bachelor's degree for entry. Many also require that applicants be registered nurses, although some programs currently have options for people with degrees in other disciplines. Many programs require that the bachelor’s degree be in nursing.
Most programs have a limited number of spaces to admit new students each year because of the intensive faculty-to-student ratio needed to graduate quality midwives. It is, therefore, not unheard of for a prospective student not to be accepted the first time she/he applies to a midwifery education program. Contact the program you are interested in directly about specific program prerequisites.
Midwifery salaries vary widely based on geographic region, responsibility and experience level. A number of variables can affect salaries for CNMs and CMs including: type of practice setting (private practice, hospital, birth center, home birth, health clinic), geographic part of the country, type of location (urban or rural), benefits packages offered with salary, hours worked per week, and type of care provided (full-scope of sexual and reproductive health services, pre-natal care, gynecologic care, etc.)
Midwives work in a variety of settings including private practices, hospitals, birth centers, health clinics, and home birth services. The numbers and types of opportunities available to new graduates often depend on the individual's work preference and vary across the country and in different locations (urban or rural). Visit the online midwifery career center at www.MidwifeJobs.com.
It is also possible for midwives with entrepreneurial spirits to set up their own practices, establishing themselves as health care providers in the community of their choice.
CNMs have legal authority to practice in every state, the District of Columbia, and most of the US Territories. CMs are recognized in 11 states and DC (AR, CO, DE, HI, MD, ME, NJ, NY, OK, RI, VA, and the District of Columbia). Several more states are working on CM licensure.
All midwifery programs accredited by ACME teach the conduct of birth outside the hospital setting. The majority of education programs are able to offer clinical learning experiences in the community setting with midwifery preceptors who practice in birth centers and/or homes. If you are very interested in out-of-hospital birth experiences, contact the midwifery education program director before you apply to be sure that such experiences are available at that program.
Many midwifery education programs offer optional international clinical experiences. Check with individual programs for opportunities.
The type of academic credit and degree awarded may be different for each program. All ACME-accredited midwifery education programs award a Masters Degree, Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) or Doctor of Midwifery (DM) degree; some programs offer a master's completion option for CNMs or CMs who do not have Master's degrees; and several programs offer a post-graduate certificate option for those graduate-prepared advanced practice nurses who want to expand their practice to include midwifery, or for students who are becoming CMs and have an MPH or other health-relates degree.
Upon graduation from an ACME-accredited program, individuals are eligible to take the national certifying exam offered by the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB). Upon successful completion of this exam, individuals are granted a Certificate in either Nurse-Midwifery or Midwifery.
Individuals who are registered nurses, but do not have a bachelor’s degree may become nurse-midwives either by completing a BSN or bachelor’s in another field, then attending a graduate midwifery program. Many accredited nurse-midwifery programs are in schools of nursing that offer bridge programs to facilitate progression through the bachelor’s degree in nursing to midwifery and the Master's degree.
You have two options. You can enter your graduate midwifery program directly after meeting certain prerequisites which will lead to becoming a Certified Midwife (CM). Alternatively, you can become a Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM) by completing an accelerated post-bachelors program that leads to a BSN, followed by your graduate midwifery education.