Certified Nurse Midwife FAQ: Job Outlook, Pay and How to Specialize


Certified Nurse Midwife FAQ

By Alana Luna, Contributor

Becoming a certified nurse midwife means dedicating your career to assisting women with their reproductive health, gynecological concerns and so much more. As it turns out, a midwife job could also provide financial security. Here's what you need to know about this blossoming field.

What is a midwife?

Contrary to popular belief, midwives are not simply nice ladies who love to help women deliver babies. In fact, midwives are health professionals who undertake a large amount of training and education to facilitate healthy, happy, stress-free births as well as all kinds of family planning, reproductive care and assistance and education for new parents.

Midwives may work in private settings, such as their clients' homes, or more formal environments such as a birth center or hospital. Though midwives are often linked to low-intervention practices, that does not mean they provide substandard care - far from it. A certified nurse midwife can do many of the same things an obstetrician can do, including:

  1. Conducting prenatal exams
  2. Giving advice about diet and exercise during pregnancy
  3. Ordering tests
  4. Monitoring psychological health
  5. Delivering babies
  6. Providing training and education on breastfeeding
  7. Teaching expectant parents about key issues such as colic and SIDS

In the case of a high-risk pregnancy or other issue that requires more advanced diagnostic care or treatment, a midwife can and will refer patients to an OB-GYN or other specialist as needed.

There are three certifications available:

  1. Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM): A midwife with a minimum of a bachelor's degree, formal training in nursing and midwifery and certification from the American College of Nurse Midwives
  2. Certified Midwife (CM): All of the requirements of a CNM minus the formal nursing education, training and certification
  3. Certified Professional Midwife (CPM): Trained according to the guidelines set forth by the North American Registry of Midwives

Job outlook for certified nurse midwives

Though hospital births under the watchful eye of an OB-GYN have been the norm in the United States for quite some time, midwife-led maternity care is experiencing a surge in popularity. Experts cite a generation of mothers-to-be who want more body autonomy, less austerity and a return to the idea that pregnancy and labor are normal life occurrences rather than medical emergencies requiring surgical intervention.

It's no surprise then that the job outlook for nurse midwives is phenomenal. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts job opportunities in the field will jump by a total of 31 percent between 2016 and 2026. Compare that to the job outlook of registered nurses in general, which sits at 15% and the overall job growth projection of just 6%, and it's easy to see that those interested in learning how to become a certified nurse midwife will have plenty of opportunities to practice their craft.

Salary and other considerations

In 2018, nurse midwives earned a mean annual salary of $106,910, with a mean hourly wage of $51.40. Top earners made as much as $151,070, while the bottom 10 percent still brought home an impressive $70,100 for the year.

Salary varies depending on several factors, including place of employment (midwives working in outpatient care centers earn far more than those working in the offices of alternative health practitioners). Geographic location also plays a role; midwives in California make an average of some $50,000 per year more than midwives in Florida.

How to become a certified nurse midwife

Certified nurse midwives must go through extensive training to earn their titles and practice legally. This process typically includes:

  1. Graduating from an accredited bachelor's program in nursing or a related health field
  2. Passing the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN)
  3. Verifiable experience in a labor and delivery unit as an RN
  4. Enrollment in and completion of a nurse-midwifery program accredited by an organization such as the American College of Nurse-Midwives Division of Accreditation (ACNM), the Commission of Collegiate Nursing education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)
  5. Certification via the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB) exam

It's increasingly common for midwives to have a master's degree, and some programs now require advanced education.

Whether you're just starting your career or looking to transition to a new position in the midwifery field, it's good to know what opportunities exist. Browse the job opportunities at NursingJobs.com and take control of your professional future.

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