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Certified Nurse Midwife Career Guide

Updated: May 22, 2022

A Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM) is an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) that specializes in providing healthcare to women throughout their lives. Family planning, gynecological exams, and prenatal care are examples. Despite their differences in approach, CNMs provide care that is similar to that of an OB/GYN practitioner in many aspects.


Tasks and Responsibilities

Nurse midwives specialize in the care of women. Delivering infants, giving prenatal and postpartum care, aiding obstetricians, and doing routine check-ups on pregnant patients are some of their most typical responsibilities.

One of their most significant responsibilities is to assist moms in giving birth to their kids in a safe and natural manner. They assist patients in managing their labor and assure the safety of both mothers and newborns during delivery. During C-section deliveries, they may work under the direction of or in partnership with physicians.

According to the American College of Nurse-Midwives, the major duties in full-time roles for 76 percent of CNMs are reproductive care and 49 percent are primary care. This contains items such as:

  • Annual examinations

  • Prescription writing

  • Basic nutritional advice

  • Patient information

  • Visits for reproductive health

It's also worth mentioning that, as of 2019, hospitals accounted for about 89 percent of midwife-assisted deliveries, with the rest occurring in birth centers or at home.

Being a CNM, like other healthcare practitioners, entails working irregular hours and being "on call" to respond to patients who are in labor. CNMs generally work with obstetricians in private offices, hospitals, or birthing centers.

In many aspects, nurse-midwives vary from labor and delivery nurses. L&D nurses are Registered Nurses who have been educated to monitor patient vital signs and care for laboring women. When the time comes for birth, however, they consult a doctor. CNMs are advanced nurse practitioners, which means they must have a master's degree, a unique certification, and extensive training in order to practice.



As of May 2020, the average certified nurse midwife income, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), is $111,130. CNM’s salary ranges from $84,120 to $190,900.

Salary According to Experience

With more years of experience, midwives can earn more money. Midwives can earn the following, according to

  • $92,604 - Less than 1 year of experience

  • $93,392 - 1 to 4 years of experience

  • $98,410 - 5 to 9 years of experience

  • $106,163 - 10 to 19 years of experience

  • $100,953- 20 years or more of experience

Highest Paying States for Nurse-Midwives

  • California - $159,590

  • Utah - $133,680

  • Mississippi - $127,960

  • New York - $125,780

  • Minnesota - $123,600


How to Become a Certified Nurse Midwife

Step 1: Become a Registered Nurse

An RN is required before becoming an advanced nurse practitioner. This necessitates completion of a State Nursing Board-approved program of study, either a bachelor's degree or an associate degree program. To begin practicing, you must pass the NCLEX-RN after completing the program.

Step 2: Gain Experience

To be admitted to many graduate-level nursing schools, you must have one or more years of nursing experience.

Step 3: Earn a Master’s or Doctoral Degree in Nurse-Midwifery

According to the BLS, most APRN schools favor individuals with a bachelor's degree in nursing. As a result, if you earned your associate degree as an RN, you'll almost certainly need to look for a bridge program that will allow you to jump right into a master's program. It can take two or more years to complete your degree, depending on the program (and whether or not you have a bachelor's degree to begin with).

Step 4: Obtain certification as a Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM)

The American Midwifery Credential Board offers this certification, which requires you to pass a national qualifying test. You will be licensed to practice in all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia and US territories, once this is accomplished.



Midwives now attend roughly 10% of all deliveries in the United States. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are now 7,300 midwives working in the United States as of May 2020. According to the American Midwifery Certification Board, there were 12,805 CNMs as of December 2020. However, in recent years, more women have shown a desire in having their deliveries supervised by midwives.

Midwife-led births are often lower-tech, less intrusive, and less inclined toward intervention without a proven medical necessity, according to a story in The Atlantic. According to the report, a 2011 study published in the journal Nursing Economics indicated that when midwives collaborate with doctors, the delivery is less likely to result in a C-section.

That might be one of the reasons why the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that nurse midwives' employment would expand by 11% from 2020 to 2030, substantially faster than the national average.

The nursing profession as a whole is seeing rapid expansion, but this is especially true for specialty professions like CNMs.


Continuing Education

Every five years, the American Midwifery Certification Board requires recertification. CNMs have two basic choices for certificate maintenance:

CNMs must complete three modules over a five-year period and present confirmation of 20 hours of appropriate continuing education under Option 1. Each of the three fields of practice, Antepartum and Primary Care of the Pregnant Woman; Intrapartum, Postpartum, and Newborn; and Gynecology and Primary Care for the Well-Woman, requires completion of one module. Attending a conference, publishing a paper, and other ways are available to fulfill the needed education hours. Proof of attendance or validation/verification is required for all choices.

Option 2 permits a CNM to repeat the certification test as another way to demonstrate continuous midwifery competency.

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