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
- What is a certified nurse midwife?
- What does a certified nurse midwife do?
- Certified nurse midwife job outlook
- How to get a nurse midwife certification
- What are the benefits of being a certified nurse midwife?
- Why certified nurse midwives are important
- Next Steps
- 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
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.
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.
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)
- 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
- New York
Highest paying states for nurse midwives
Highest paying cities for certified nurse midwives
|San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA||$78.27||$162,800|
|San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA||$75.76||$157,570|
|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|
|New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA||$62.01||$128,970|
In order to be eligible to obtain a nurse midwife certification from the American Midwifery Certification Board, you must:
- Earn a bachelor’s of science in nursing through an accredited nursing program (either bachelor’s or associate’s)
- Pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) and obtain RN license
- Apply to a Certified Nurse-Midwife program, accredited through the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (ACME). (There are currently 39 accredited CNMs programs.)
- 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:
- Show proof of an active and current U.S. license as a Registered Nurse.
- 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.
- Have verification by the nurse-midwifery program director confirming the candidate has met the institutional requirements for a graduate degree and the date completed.
- 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.
Nurse midwives must renew their certification every 5 years through the AMCB, and must meet specific requirements regarding continuing education.
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.
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:
- Lower rates of c-section births
- Lower rates of labor induction/augmentation
- Significant reduction of third and fourth-degree perineal tears
- Less use of regional anesthesia
- Higher rates of breastfeeding
- 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
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
- Community Health Clinics
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.
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.
- Register for the certification exam
- Find a certified nurse midwife program
- Join a midwife practice
- Become an ACNM Member
- American College of Nurse-Midwives
- National Association of Certified Professional Midwives
- North American Registry of Midwives
- Midwifery Today
- American Midwifery Certification Board
- Online Learning Center
- Mental Health Certificate
- Nurses and Midwives: Partnering to Prevent Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders
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.