Nurse Midwife Certification: The Complete Job Guide for 2023

This article covers everything you need to know about nurse midwife certification process, from eligibility requirements to examinations. By the end of this post, you'll be ready to take your career to the next level. So let's get started!

Nurse Midwife Certification: Everything You Need to Know - a picture of a midwife handing a baby to a patient.

If you’re considering a role in labor and delivery, but desire more direct involvement, then obtaining your nurse midwife certification may be the perfect option for you. This field allows nurses to combine their skills in caring for expecting mothers and being present during deliveries (and afterward). If you’re passionate about gynecology and nursing, obtaining your nurse midwife certification is an ideal next step in your career.

Table of contents

TLDR: 

  • Certified nurse midwives are experts on women’s health issues and play a large role in providing care during the entire pregnancy process
  • The job outlook is promising with high salaries and a large increase in projected job growth 
  • You must earn a graduate degree (MSN or DNP) to become a CNM 

Nurse Midwife Certification: Everything You Need to Know - a picture of a nurse midwife examining a pregnant woman.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is a certified nurse midwife?

A certified nurse midwife (CNM) is an advanced practice nurse (APRN) who provides primary care to women throughout their lives, from birth to adolescence, and through menopause.

Certified nurse midwives provide comprehensive care for pregnant women, including labor and delivery, prenatal care, health screenings, family planning services, and gynecological checkups. CNMs assist physicians during cesarean births and manage emergency room situations during labor. They also play an important role in educating families about sexual and reproductive health. 

Nurse midwives must complete a graduate-level nurse midwife certification program, and are certified by The American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB)

What does a certified nurse midwife do? 

Although the scope of their duties varies by state, many nurse-midwives work independently, prescribe many medications (like birth control), provide treatments, and order laboratory tests. The list below highlights more duties a CNM may be responsible for during a shift (typical shifts are 8-12 hours, but will vary by employer): 

  • Provide prenatal care
  • Educate patients regarding birth options
  • Monitor maternal health and fetal growth
  • Take and record patients’ medical histories and symptoms
  • Evaluate a patient’s response to medicines and treatments
  • Create a birth plan and other treatment plans
  • Analyze test results or changes in a patient’s condition and alter treatment plans, as needed
  • Assist medical doctors and specialists
  • Consult with doctors and other healthcare professionals, as needed
  • Assist with breastfeeding and postpartum care
  • Treat routine, non-critical health conditions during pregnancy
  • Assist in low-intervention labor and pain relief
  • Attend natural births and offer delivery coaching
  • Order tests and review lab results
  • Perform physical examinations on women
  • Counsel and educate patients and their families about reproductive and sexual health.  

Nurse Midwife Certification: Everything You Need to Know - a picture of a nurse midwife holding hands with a patient during birth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Certified Nurse Midwife job outlook

The employment outlook for nurse midwives is positive as the role is expected to grow 40% through 2031, which is very quick compared to the national average for other occupations. That means thousands of nurse midwives jobs will be created each year. 

Certified nurse midwife salary: 

  • Median annual pay: $114,210 ($54.91 per hour)

Salary breakdown 

  • Entry-level salary: Hourly: $29.57/Annual: $61,500
  • Mid-level salary: Hourly: $54.24/Annual: $112,830 
  • Top-level salary: Hourly: $62.72/Annual: $130,450

States with the highest certified nurse midwife employment level

  1. California 
  2. New York
  3. Texas
  4. Pennsylvania
  5. Massachusetts

Highest paying states for nurse midwives

States Hourly Annual
West Virginia $78.46 $163,190
Utah $69.18 $143,890
California $65.90 $137,070
Massachusetts $62.19 $129,360
New York $60.66 $126,170

Source: BLS

Highest paying cities for certified nurse midwives

Cities Hourly Annual
Charleston, WV $81.47 $169,460
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA $78.27 $162,800
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA $75.76 $157,570
Sacramento–Roseville-Arcade, CA $72.59 $150,990
Salt Lake City, UT $64.40 $133,950
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA $64.26 $133,660
Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI $63.26 $131,580
Boston-Cambridge-Nashua, MA-NH $62.36 $129,720
New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA $62.01 $128,970

Source: BLS

Nurse Midwife Certification: Everything You Need to Know - a picture of nurse midwives helping a patient give birth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to obtain a nurse midwife certification

In order to be eligible to obtain a nurse midwife certification from the American Midwifery Certification Board, you must:

  1. Earn a bachelor’s of science in nursing through an accredited nursing program (either bachelor’s or associate’s)
  2. Pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) and obtain RN license
  3. Apply to a Certified Nurse-Midwife program, accredited through the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (ACME). (There are currently 39 accredited CNMs programs.)
  4. 4. After completing the education requirements and obtaining their RN license, candidates must apply for the national certification exam administered by the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB). To be eligible for certifications, candidates must:
    1. Show proof of an active and current U.S. license as a Registered Nurse.
    2. Have satisfactory completion of a graduate degree or have met the institutional requirements for a graduate degree from a program accredited by or with pre-accreditation status from the ACME.
    3. Have verification by the nurse-midwifery program director confirming the candidate has met the institutional requirements for a graduate degree and the date completed.
    4. Have an attestation by the director of the nurse-midwifery program that the candidate performs at a safe, beginning practitioner level.

Candidates who pass the certification examination are awarded the CNM credential and can practice as a certified nurse midwife in all 50 states. 

Some programs admit non-RNs (also non-BSNs) or offer accelerated entry. Student prospects can explore the requirements for different nurse midwife certification programs using this resource list.

If you did not earn a BSN, but rather an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN), you can find a bridge program that allows you to apply for a graduate-level nurse midwifery program. 

Nurse midwives must renew their certification every 5 years through the AMCB, and must meet specific requirements regarding continuing education. 

What are the benefits of being a certified nurse midwife?

Nurses benefit from having their nurse midwife certification in many ways that could contribute to a very rewarding experience; some of those benefits include:

  • Certified nurse midwives are widely respected members of the healthcare community and are often looked to as experts on women’s health issues.
  • CNMs play an important role in educating patients, families, and communities about health and wellness.
  • By taking a holistic approach to patient care, CNMs help women live healthier, happier lives, and improve patient outcomes overall.
  • Certified nurse midwives enjoy a high degree of autonomy and flexibility in their practice. They are able to set their own schedules and work closely with other members of the healthcare team, allowing them to give the best possible care for their patients.
  • Nurse midwives can provide continuity of care, meaning that they can follow a woman throughout her pregnancy, labor and delivery, and postpartum period.
  • Some CNMs have the unique ability to care for patients through all stages of life, from infancy to adolescence to menopause. This allows them to build strong relationships with their patients and better understand their individual needs. 

Nurse Midwife Certification: Everything You Need to Know - a picture of a nurse midwife bottle feeding a newborn baby.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why certified nurse midwives are important 

Certified nurse midwives approach treatment holistically – they are not only concerned about treating the physical needs, but also the mental and pyschosocial needs of a patient, too.    

The benefits of a CNM assisted birth include:

  1. Lower rates of c-section births
  2. Lower rates of labor induction/augmentation
  3. Significant reduction of third and fourth-degree perineal tears
  4. Less use of regional anesthesia
  5. Higher rates of breastfeeding

CNMs provide:

  • Prenatal education
  • More hands-on approach
  • Closer relationships with their patients
  • Increased access to care
  • Less invasive medical interventions
  • Limited use of pharmacological pain management interventions

FAQs

1. Where do certified midwives work?

Certified nurse midwives can work in a different healthcare settings including hospitals (university and military, too), private practices, medical relief organizations, birthing centers, health clinics, or home birth services.

2. What are the benefits of having a nurse midwife certificate?

With a nurse midwife certification, you have the opportunity to be an expert of women’s health issues, in addition to being a widely respected member of the healthcare community. Your nurse midwife certification is valid in all 50 states and acts a proof that you’re a highly trained medical professional.  

3. Can you earn your nurse midwife certification without an RN license? 

No, you cannot earn a CNM certification without an RN license. However, as long as you graduate from an accredited nursing program, whether you earn a BSN or ADN does not matter because there are several bridge programs that allow ADNs with their RN license to attend graduate school (MSN).  

4. How long does it take to become a certified nurse-midwife? 

Assuming you attend and graduate a four-year college for your bachelor’s degree in nursing, it will likely take between 6-8 years to become a certified nurse midwife. 

5. What are the CE requirements for CNMs?

Continuing education requirements for certified nurse midwives vary from state to state, but be sure to check out the AMCB’s Continuing Education Policy to get a better understanding of what is required in your state. 

6. What is the certifying body for nurse-midwifery candidates? 

The American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB) is the national certifying body that administers the certification exam, and the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (ACME) is the body that accredits graduate-level midwifery programs. 

7. Are there fees for the exam?

Yes, there are fees to take the national certification exam, the fee is $500 but you can find out more information here

8. Do certified nurse midwives have specialties? 

A certified nurse midwife is a specialty role, however CNMs may choose to focus on a clinical area such as: 

  • Birth centers
  • Hospitals
  • Community Health Clinics
  • Research
  • Education

9. What is the difference between a Certified Nurse Midwife, Certified midwives, Doulas, and Nurse Practitioners? 

There are some key differences in nurse-midwives and other maternal professionals:

  • Certified Nurse-Midwife: Certified nurse-midwives are graduate-prepared registered nurses trained in the disciplines of nursing and midwifery. CNMs legally practice in all 50 states, including the District of Columbia. 
  • Certified Midwife: Certified midwives are masters-prepared healthcare professionals trained in the discipline of midwifery. They do not hold a nursing degree. Certified Midwives only practice in Delaware, Maine, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island.
  • Doulas: Doulas meet the requirements of a certification program. They provide support to mothers during childbirth, and many give support to mother and baby in the weeks following childbirth. Doulas are trained in the birthing process and postnatal care, but they are not maternity care providers. They do not provide clinical or medical care. Doulas primarily focus on the emotional and physical needs during labor. 
  • Nurse Practitioners: While Women’s Health Nurse Practitioners (WHNP) and some Family Nurse Practitioners (FNP) treat women with both chronic and acute illnesses, the nurse-midwife’s primary focus is on well-woman. WHNPs and FNPs do not deliver babies.

Also, check out this resource the ACMN put together to help distinguish the roles apart. 

Nurse Midwife Certification: Everything You Need to Know - a picture of a cnm examining a pregnant patient.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conclusion

Obtaining your nurse midwife certification could open the doors to limitless career opportunities. Certified nurse midwives undergo rigorous training to become experts in women’s health issues. They provide precious care for pregnant women as they are in a unique position to combine their passion for delivering babies with technical nursing skills, bed-side experience, and medical knowledge. 

The job outlook for the next decade is very optimistic, with 40% projected growth and an median annual salary climbing above $114,000.

To learn more about the nurse midwife certification process, visit the ACNM website

Next steps

Helpful Organizations, Societies, & Agencies

If you’re interested in leveling up your nursing career, check out our affordable and accredited online nursing programs, where we offer tuition payment plans starting as low as $250 per month for our RN to BSN program, $325 per month for our MSN program, and $375 per month for our DNP program


Find Your Program
Find Your Program
Tell Us About Yourself
Request Your Information

By clicking the Submit button above, I represent that I am 18+ years of age, that I have read and agreed to the Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy and agree to receive email marketing and phone calls from Aspen University. I understand that my consent is not required to apply for online degree enrollment. To speak with a representative without providing consent, please call 1-800-373-7814.

Thank You for Your Interest

An Enrollment Advisor will contact you shortly to introduce you to Aspen University and help you understand the programs and payment options available.

You can also start the free application right now.

Chat