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Nurse Midwives

At a Glance

  • Treat pregnant mothers and infants
  • Deliver babies in a variety of settings
  • Constantly interact with patients and other medical staff
  • Most are certified or licensed
  • Become midwives after nursing school

Career summary

Nurse midwives care for pregnant women before, during, and immediately after childbirth. They deliver babies for low-risk pregnancies.

Nurse midwives are registered nurses with a master’s degree in midwifery. Nurse midwives can order lab tests throughout the pregnancy. They may also write prescriptions and administer medication during labor. They may attend births in a hospital, medical clinic setting, or birthing center.

Prenatal care

Nurse midwives work closely with expectant mothers throughout their pregnancy. They get a complete medical history from the patient to be sure it is a low-risk pregnancy. They determine the due date.

Nurse midwives educate pregnant women about nutrition, exercise, and general well-being. They regularly monitor fetal growth and listen to the baby's heartbeat. If complications develop, such as an ectopic pregnancy or signs that the mother or baby is not doing well, nurse midwives refer patients to obstetricians or other specialists.

Nurse midwives help pregnant women plan for childbirth. This includes helping them determine how they will manage pain and what kind of birthing environment they would like.


Nurse midwives monitor the mother and baby’s condition during labor by checking vital signs. They also monitor contractions and perform physical examinations to establish how the labor is progressing. They make suggestions for positions that may facilitate childbirth. They may administer oxygen if required.

Postpartum care

After the birth, nurse midwives provide medical care for infants including emergency resuscitation. They also monitor the mother’s recovery. In addition, they help mothers and babies learn how to breastfeed.

Related careers

This career is part of the Health Science cluster of careers.

Related careers include:

Military careers

Job duties

Task list

The following list of tasks is specific to nurse midwives.

Common work activities

Nurse midwives perform the following tasks. These tasks are common to many careers.

Work requirements

Working conditions

In a typical work setting, nurse midwives:

Interpersonal relationships

Physical work conditions

Work performance


Physical demands

Nurse midwives frequently:

It is important for nurse midwives to be able to:

It is not as important, but still necessary, for nurse midwives to be able to:

Skills and abilities

Nurse midwives need to:


Reason and problem solve

Use math and science

Manage oneself, people, time, and things

Work with people

Perceive and visualize

Education and training

Educational programs

The programs of study listed below will help you prepare for the occupation or career cluster you are exploring.

Programs of study directly related to this occupation

Other programs of study to consider


To work as a nurse midwife, you typically need to:

Education after high school

Nurse midwives are both nurses and midwives. Some become midwives after completing a nursing degree; others study both simultaneously. In general, as a nursing student, you study anatomy, physiology, and chemistry. You also take courses in medications and patient care. Near the end of training you complete a supervised work experience in a hospital. During your clinical work experience you observe and assist during childbirths.

On-the-job training

You'll spend a considerable amount of time observing and assisting with childbirths. You'll be supervised by experienced nurse midwives. Depending on the type of program, you may do this in a hospital, clinic, or birthing center.

Military training

Some branches of the military offer training in nursing specialties to people who are already licensed as a registered nurse. Training lasts 14 to 27 weeks, depending on your specialty. Additional training occurs on the job.

Helpful high school courses

In high school, take classes that prepare you for college. A college preparatory curriculum (external link) may be different from your state's graduation requirements (external link). You need a strong background in math and science to become a nurse midwife. Take as many math and science courses as you can.

You should also consider taking some advanced courses in high school. This includes Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses if they are available in your school. If you do well in these courses, you may receive college credit for them. Advanced courses can also strengthen your college application.

Helpful electives to take in high school that prepare you for this career include:

The courses listed above are meant to help you create your high school plan. If you have not already done so, talk to a school counselor or parent about the courses you are considering taking.

You should also check with a teacher or counselor to see if work-based learning opportunities are available in your school and community. These might include field trips, job shadowing, internships, and actual work experience. The goal of these activities is to help you connect your school experiences with real-life work.

Join some groups, try some hobbies, or volunteer with an organization that interests you. By participating in activities you can have fun, make new friends, and learn about yourself. Maybe one of them will help direct you to a future career. Here are examples of activities and groups (PDF file) that may be available in your high school or community.

Things to know

Employers of look for licensed registered nurses (RNs) who have completed an additional program in midwifery at an accredited school and obtained their midwifery license. 

In addition, employers look for nurse midwives that have a caring and compassionate attitude toward others. Good judgment and the ability to make quick decisions are also important.

Costs to workers

Some workers may wish to join a professional association, which may have annual dues. Workers may have to pay for continuing education classes to keep up with changes in the field.


Direct entry midwives must be licensed to practice in Washington. Requirements for licensed midwives generally include:

Licensed midwives may also purchase and administer certain legend drugs, including those prescribed by a physician.

For more information, contact:

Washington State Department of Health
Midwifery Program (external link)

PO Box 47877
Olympia, WA 98504

Certified nurse midwives must be licensed as Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioners by the State Board of Nursing. For licensing information, see the Hiring Practices section in the description for nurse practitioners.



Nurse midwives (SOC 29-1161)

Pay Period
Washington Hourly $39.18 $43.09 $48.94 $56.63 $61.96
Monthly $6,790 $7,467 $8,481 $9,814 $10,738
Yearly $81,500 $89,620 $101,800 $117,790 $128,880
    Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue Hourly $41.42 $48.57 $54.70 $60.13 $64.02
Monthly $7,178 $8,417 $9,480 $10,421 $11,095
Yearly $86,141 $101,034 $113,758 $125,072 $133,155
    Vancouver Hourly $29.37 $44.92 $55.87 $66.81 $76.52
Monthly $5,090 $7,785 $9,682 $11,578 $13,261
Yearly $61,087 $93,432 $116,192 $138,962 $159,170
United States Hourly $33.70 $41.86 $49.89 $59.73 $72.63
Monthly $5,840 $7,254 $8,646 $10,351 $12,587
Yearly $70,100 $87,070 $103,770 $124,240 $151,070

Pay varies by employer, area of the country, and the worker's level of experience.

Nurse midwives who work full time may receive benefits. Typical benefits include health insurance, sick leave, and paid vacation.

Employment and outlook

Washington outlook

The table below provides information about the number of workers in this career in various regions. It also provides information about the expected growth rate and future job openings.

Nurse midwives (SOC 29-1161)

Location Current employment Growth over 10 years Annual openings
Washington 96 25.0% 16.1% 9
    Benton and Franklin Counties 12 25.0% 15.0% 1
    Clark, Cowlitz, and Wahkiakum Counties 18 22.2% 15.2% 1
    Grays Harbor, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, and Thurston Counties 28 32.1% 14.1% 3
    King County 22 18.2% 19.6% 2
United States 6,500 16.9% 5.2% 500

National employment

Major employers:

National outlook

Job opportunities for nurse midwives are expected to be excellent. As the population grows, there will be more women having babies. Many women are deciding to use a nurse midwife to provide care during, before, and after childbirth. This will increase the need for nurse midwives. Job opportunities are expected to be especially good in medically underserved areas such as inner cities and rural areas. 

Other resources

About Midwifery (external link)
American College of Nurse-Midwives (external link)
8403 Colesville Road, Suite 1550
Silver Spring, MD 20910
American Midwifery Certification Board (external link)
849 International Drive, Suite 120
Linthicum, MD 21090
American Nurses Association (external link)
8515 Georgia Avenue, Suite 400
Silver Spring, MD 20910
Explore Health Careers: Nurse Midwife (external link)
Midwifery Education Accreditation Council (MEAC) (external link)
850 Mt Pleasant Avenue
Ann Arbor, MI 48103
Midwives Alliance of North America (external link)
PO Box 373
Montvale, NJ 07645
Midwives' Association of Washington State (external link)
16830 NE 9th Place
Bellevue, WA 98008
North American Registry of Midwives (external link)
5257 Rosestone Drive
Lilburn, GA 30047
Nursing (external link)
From Johnson & Johnson
What is a Midwife? (external link)


Career cluster

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