Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM): Job Description, Salary, and How to Become One

Certified nurse midwives (CNMs) possess specialized knowledge and nursing skills to manage all aspects of women’s reproductive health throughout their lifespan, including pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum care. Careers

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If you are passionate about providing complete care during pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum, consider becoming a certified nurse midwife (CNM). 

To provide readers with all the information to decide if this career is right for them, we've compiled a guide with details about the role, duties, income, education, and advantages of becoming a CNM. 

CNM Job Description

CNMs possess specialized knowledge and nursing skills to manage all aspects of women's reproductive health throughout their lifespan, including pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum care. They are trained at the graduate level and are recognized as advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), making them independent healthcare providers in many states. 

CNMs provide comprehensive care to individuals of all gender identities and sexual orientations. They are proficient in addressing a wide range of sexual health and reproductive health needs, including gynecological care, family planning services, and primary care related to women's health needs.

They work collaboratively with individuals and families, ensuring their unique healthcare needs are met in various healthcare settings such as ambulatory clinics, private practice offices, telehealth, community and public health systems, hospitals, birth centers, and home deliveries. 

As independent healthcare providers, CNMs play a vital role in promoting and maintaining the overall well-being of individuals and their families. They fulfill crucial healthcare needs, serve diverse populations, and contribute to reducing risks and preventing illnesses.

CNMs are dedicated to delivering high-quality care and supporting individuals throughout their reproductive journey, positively impacting their healthcare outcomes.

 Related: 10 Best BSN to MSN Programs in 2023

CNM Responsibilities

CNMs are vital in providing comprehensive care and support to individuals throughout their lives. As a CNM, you can expect to assume numerous APRN responsibilities relating to reproductive health. 

These may include:

  • Prenatal care: Monitoring fetal development and offering personalized care to pregnant individuals. 
  • Attending deliveries: Assisting or managing the labor and delivery process, ensuring a safe and positive birth experience.
  • Postpartum care: Providing postpartum checkups, assessing the well-being of the mother and baby, and offering guidance on breastfeeding, postpartum recovery, and newborn care.
  • Gynecological care: Offering routine exams, screenings for reproductive health issues, contraception counseling, managing gynecological conditions, and providing family planning services.
  • Women's health issues: Addressing various concerns such as menstrual disorders, menopause management, sexual health, diagnosing and treating common conditions, prescribing medications, and offering counseling and support. 
  • Collaborating with healthcare teams: Working with obstetricians, pediatricians, and primary care providers to ensure comprehensive and coordinated care.
  • Education and counseling: Guiding patients on wellness promotion, disease prevention, nutrition, and lifestyle choices. Empowering individuals to make informed decisions about their health. 

The duties of CNMs will vary between states due to differing regulations on their scope of practice.

Benefits of Becoming a CNM

Becoming a CNM offers numerous benefits, including providing women with increased access to prenatal care, resulting in lower cesarean birth rates and improved birth outcomes, as reported by the American College of Nurse-Midwives.

Their expertise in supporting natural childbirth and utilizing non-invasive interventions contributes to positive experiences for both mothers and babies. 

Additionally, CNMs enjoy a fulfilling career that offers higher pay than registered nurses (RNs), while also allowing them to form strong connections with patients and make a meaningful impact on their reproductive health journey.

CNM Salary

According to the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average annual salary for CNMs is $112,830. Salary can vary based on experience, location, employment setting, and demand for CNMs.

 Annual CNM Salary by Experience:

  • 1-3 years CNM Experience:: $82,604
  • 4-6 years CNM Experience: $87,530
  • 7-9 years CNM Experience: $95,245
  • 10-14 years CNM Experience: $105,245
  • 15+ years CNM Experience: $113,923

Annual CNM Salary by State

The annual salary of CNMs can significantly vary based on the state they practice in. Here are examples of three high-paying and three low-paying states:

Top Paying States:

  • Massachusetts: $135,138
  • Hawaii: $133,368
  • Oregon: $132,022

Lowest Paying States:

  • Florida: $89,372
  • Georgia: $87,372
  • Louisiana: $85,787

These numbers may differ from the highs and lows listed above, as the aggregate data regarding state pay is from ZipRecruiter, while the remaining aggregate data above is from Glassdoor. Unfortunately, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not provide a more detailed breakdown of APRN salaries beyond the median wage for each position.

How to Become a CNM

To pursue a career as a CNM, you must follow a specific educational path. Here are the general steps involved:

Step 1: Obtain a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)

Begin by completing your undergraduate nursing education from an accredited institution and obtaining your BSN. This program typically takes four years to complete and includes everything you need to be a successful RN. 

Step 2: Acquire RN Licensure

After graduating from a BSN program, you must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to obtain your RN license.

Step 3: Gain Nursing Experience

Work as an RN to gain valuable clinical experience. Many CNM programs require a minimum of one to two years of nursing experience, although specific requirements may vary.

Step 4: Complete a Graduate-Level Nurse Midwife Program

Enroll in an accredited CNM program; this will be a master's degree of nursing (MSN) program or a doctorate of nursing practice (DNP) program. These programs focus on midwifery education and clinical training. The coursework includes subjects like prenatal care, labor and delivery, women's health, and advanced practice nursing. 

To become a CNM, one must complete a graduate program that requires 500 to 1,000 clinical practice hours, depending on the chosen program and pathway. This is a standard requirement for any APRN program.

At this level, the main distinction between a DNP and an MSN is that the DNP is the highest degree one can achieve. Although becoming a DNP may not necessarily result in a higher salary, it may offer more employment opportunities. However, the scope of practice is the same for both MSN and DNP-trained CNMs. 

Please be aware that the educational prerequisites for programs may differ depending on the region and institution. Therefore, it is recommended that you research to verify the requirements for the programs that you want to pursue.

Related: 10 Best DNP Programs in 2023

Step 5: Obtain CNM Certification

Upon completing a CNM program, you must pass a national certification exam administered by the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB). Successful completion grants you the professional designation of CNM.

Step 6: Obtain APRN CNM Licensure

Once you have obtained your national CNM certification, you can apply for a state APRN CNM license in the state where you intend to practice.

Becoming a CNM offers a fulfilling career path where you can play a vital role in providing comprehensive care and support to individuals during crucial life stages, such as pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum.

Through specialized education and training, you can promote health, empower individuals, and make a lasting impact on their reproductive and sexual health journey. 

Editorial Team / Admin

Erin Lee has 12 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Critical Care, Procedural, Care Coordination, LNC.

23 Articles   162 Posts
Specializes in med-surge,developmental disabilites. Has 4 years experience.

How do you feel about a nurse with experience in other fields going into the field of midwifery with no L&D experience. My own midwife who delivered both of my kids doesn't recommend working in L&D because it's hard to unlearn the medical, model and mindset. However, I have been hearing that it is more difficult to get your first midwifery job without any L&D experience. What do you think? I have felt passionate about his field for a while and am ready to jump in, but I want to do it right.

Specializes in CNM. Has 3 years experience.

It will depend on where you want to practice and who is doing the hiring.  It generally does take time to obtain your first midwifery position unless you already have a connection or worked at a place that wants to hire you after you obtain your degree and license.  There will be places that will require that you have L&D experience before they will hire you as a new grad especially if the administration or hiring manager view L&D experience as a requirement for the job.  If you already have experience as a midwife then that no longer applies.  If you are in a geographical area that has a lot of direct entry mdiwifery programs, then this is not as much of a concern.  Hope this helps.

Specializes in med-surge,developmental disabilites. Has 4 years experience.

Thank you!

My area does not have any direct entry midwifery programs- there are actually very few midwifery programs in general. the nearest in classroom program, which I would prefer, is an hour and half drive from me and I cannot relocate. I was looking into frontier vs. Georgetown online programs.

My other issue is that going to work 3x12 hours weekly, which is how the hospitals in my area staff nurses woud be very difficult for me at this point and would probably mean putting my plans on hold for a few years until it is more feasible.

what do you think of working in an outpatient OB/GYN clinic? would the experience A. assist me in gaining experience for the field of midwifery and B. count as experience on my resume?