Become A Midwife
Women throughout the U.S. rely on midwives for personal wellness care and delivery of their babies. The National Center for Health Statistics reports that certified nurse-midwives attended 313,846 births in 2012.
There are several different paths students can take to become certified midwives or certified nurse-midwives, which are part of a group of highly trained advanced practice registered nurses (along with nurse anesthetists and nurse practitioners).
How to become a certified midwife
There are strict educational requirements to earning the nurse-midwife or certified midwife designation. According to the American College of Nurse-Midwives, roughly 82 percent of all certified nurse-midwives have completed a minimum of a master's degree, and beginning in 2010 that level of education became standard for entry into the profession. Nearly 5 percent have earned doctoral degrees, the ACNM reports.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recognizes the American Midwifery Certification Board as the national body in charge of midwife certification. However, there are other midwifery certification associations in the U.S., such as the North American Registry of Midwives and the National Association of Certified Professional Midwives. Since certification and educational requirements vary from each organization, students should check with their state's nursing board to see which certification is recognized in their home state before enrolling in a program.
The American College of Nurse-Midwives certification test cost $500 as of summer 2014, and examinations are held at a certified testing facility. Certification is valid for five years, the ACME says.
Educational requirements for certified midwives
Students interested in becoming registered nurse-midwives should expect to earn a bachelor's degree in nursing or related field followed by graduate-level study in a nurse-midwifery program. Certified nurse-midwife educational programs are accredited through the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (ACME), the officially recognized body for nurse-midwifery education in the U.S. The organization recognizes 39-ACME certified schools.
Educational requirements for the Certified Professional Midwife designation, given by the North American Registry of Midwifes, are much different. Students don't require a degree; instead, their portfolio of work history is evaluated along with proof of graduation from midwifery education and state licensure programs.
Career outlook for certified midwifes and nurse-midwives
Certified midwives work in a variety of settings, from birthing centers to patient's homes, the BLS reports. The work can be demanding, and they also must be able to make tough decisions about patient care. According to the American College of Nurse-Midwives, there were 13,071 certified midwives working in 2012. The BLS reports that there were 5,460 certified nurse-midwives employed as of May of 2013.
National median annual wages for nurse-midwives was $44.37 an hour in May 2013, while the top 10 percent of nurse-midwives earned $57.95 an hour. The bottom 10 percent took home $30.20 per hour. Employment for nurse-midwives is projected to grow 29 percent from 2012 through 2022, the BLS reports. Changes to laws governing advanced practice nursing providers is expected to drive this growing demand for midwifery specialists, the BLS finds. Jobs should be especially in high demand in medically underserved rural areas that lack a highly skilled medical workforce.
"Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, January 8, 2014, www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/nurse-anesthetists-nurse-midwives-and-nurse-practitioners.htm
"Nurse Midwives," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics,Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2013: www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291161.htm
"Step-by-step Midwifery exam process," American Midwifery Certification Board, www.amcbmidwife.org/amcb-certification/application-process