Nursing offers many inspirational careers and one such is Nursing Midwife. Midwifery is about taking care of pregnancies, managing postpartum health, and handling newborns, and childbirth.

This fascinating yet challenging aspect of this profession makes it one of the most sought-after career options. But the education it demands scares the hell out of many and they seek ways to earn a career without going through the challenges of a nursing degree.

Seeking leads to queries. But, is that really possible? To earn such an important career without a nursing degree. Will it be equally rewarding?

Well, to deal with all of these queries we have brought to you this article, to help develop an in-depth understanding of the career – midwives, their demands, roles and responsibilities, the ways to become one without a degree, and the pros and cons of such a route.

Let’s begin –


What Is a Midwife?

A midwife is a nurse dealing with women-centered care from the time they get pregnant till their newborns and the mother is safe and fit enough to handle herself and her child.

They offer individualized education, counseling, and prenatal care to the women. They assist them during labor and delivery.  Post-delivery they support the mother and newborn.

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How To Become a Midwife?

It’s so simple, you get a midwifery nursing degree by enrolling in an MSN program that specializes in Midwifery. You require at least an associate’s or bachelor’s degree to enroll in such programs.

If you don’t hold a nursing degree, it’s ok, there are some options that don’t require you to have a nursing degree. And, some even doesn’t require any degrees. But it is your degree that ultimately decides your title post-licensure – CNM or CM.

So, there are 3 ways to become a Nurse Midwife –

With a Nursing Degree

With a nursing degree, you become a CNM, the most respected of them all.

With any Degree

You become a CM and a CPM. They offer similar services to CNMs, but still, the latter holds more value.

Without any Degree

You can still get into midwifery without any degree and become a Registered Midwife/Licensed Midwife and Lay/Traditional Midwife. You require a high school diploma or the equivalent.

Now you know how to become a nurse midwife, let’s explore each type of Nurse Midwife. Let’s start with – becoming a Midwife with a nursing degree.  


-> What is Nursing?

-> Is Nursing a Good Career?

-> How Long Is Nursing School?

Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM)

To become a CNM you need to be a working RN, meaning you require a nursing degree – ADN or a BSN. If you are an RN you can enroll in the MSN Midwifery program, pass the national CNM Examination through American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB), and become a Certified Nurse Midwife. That’s why CNMs are referred to as APRNs, advanced practice RNs. 

Nursing Degrees: 

-> Associate Degree

-> Bachelor’s Degree

-> Master’s Degree

There are many programs, depending on your education qualification, to become a CNM. You can follow the best-suited one for you –

  • MSN in Midwifery
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) in Nurse Midwifery
  • The bridge program for ADN to MSN in Nurse Midwifery
  • MSN in any specialization with a Post-Graduate Certificate in Nurse Midwifery

Now the part that you have been waiting for –

How To Become a Midwife Without a Nursing Degree?

If you’re not interested in walking the nursing degree route or don’t have one but still aspire to become a midwife, don’t worry there are some options to consider. We will present those options and you decide on the program that suits you the best.

Certified Midwife (CM)

To become a CM, you don’t require to be an RN. This pathway to midwifery does not require a nursing background instead the aspirants are trained well during the MSN program itself.

You can enroll in an MSN in Midwifery program with a Bachelor’s degree in any discipline. Given that you complete the required science prerequisites.

To acquire licensure, you need to pass the national certification examination through American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB) and must be re-certified every five years by meeting specific continuing education requirements.

Just like the CNMs the CMs too can provide the services from adolescence to beyond menopause. 

Certified nurse midwives and certified midwives work in a variety of settings – hospitals, health clinics, birth centers, and private homes. 

But there is a downside to CMs – only a few states legally recognize and license them – New York, New Jersey, Maine, Rhode Island, and Delaware.

Now, these were the safest ways to become Nurse midwives, meaning you still earn well and work in a variety of work settings. Let’s delve into the risky ones –

Is Nursing a Good Career

Certified Professional Midwife (CPM)

To become a CPM, you might need a degree or even not, depending on the program. So, the standard requirement would be having a high school diploma or equivalent. This makes it a popular midwifery profession, so much so that approximately 1 in 6 midwives in the U.S. is a CPM.

There are two ways to become a Certified Professional Midwife –

The first way is by getting it through the NARM’s (North American Registry of Midwives) Portfolio Evaluation Process. You need to have a high school diploma or equivalent.

The second way is, you need to graduate in a midwifery program accredited by MEAC (Midwifery Education Accreditation Council) and earn a certificate or degree.

The quality of a CPM is they have expertise in providing women care throughout their childbearing cycle in out-of-hospital settings – in clients’ homes and private birthing centers.

This also could work as a downside for some wishing to work in hospital settings. So, if you are one wanting to work in hospitals as midwives, CPM is not for you.

The good thing is – unlike CMS there are 31 states legally recognizing the CPMs by offering state licensure to them.

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Registered Midwife/Licensed Midwife

These types of midwives are trained in midwifery by state-approved programs based on apprenticeships. This direct training model is successful in many states of the US.

In the 3-year program, you must care for a minimum of 50 women in each of the prenatal, intrapartum, and early postpartum periods. 

To become eligible for your licensure you need to observe additional 50 women. To acquire a license, you need to pass the national and state midwifery licensure examinations.

Lay or Traditional Midwife

Lay or traditional midwives are the ones that become midwives in the traditional way – through experience, self-study, or apprenticeship. They are midwives with just informal education mostly uncertified or unlicensed barring some states.  

Qualities You Need to Succeed as Midwives

We have tried to list down some qualities you should have or hone to succeed as a Midwife. The qualities are –

Effective Communication Skills

You need to have effective communication skills to deal with the patient, understand their worries, and help them calm during the process.  

Physical and Emotional Fitness 

The ability to maintain your physical fitness and emotional needs to avoid burnout, since this can be a very demanding career.

Maintaining the Motivation and Drive 

Make sure you have the required motivation, and the drive to take up this challenging career. Also, you need to maintain it. 

Empathy and Compassion

You must have deep empathy and compassion for the newborns or the mothers. 

Be Approachable and Collaborative

You should be approachable to the patients, be kind and deal with patience. You need to be collaborative and open to considering individualized methods of care, with the willingness to refer to other members of the health care team as needed.

Professional Integrity

You need to maintain your professional integrity to work within the scope of practice as defined by your professional credential and state laws. Also, you must understand and honor the normal processes involved in the birthing experience.

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Roles and Responsibilities of a Midwife

Usually, as a Midwife, you will perform the following tasks depending on your title. If you are a CNM or CM (if recognized in your state) you will perform it all. If you are from a non-nursing background you will only perform the gynecological or nursing roles if the authorities allow you to do so.   

Here are the standard roles you will be performing as a Midwife:

  • You will perform physical exams for primary and gynecological care.
  • You may prescribe the medication and treatments.
  • You will counsel individuals or couples on family planning and contraception.  
  • You can order and review lab tests for screening and diagnosis.
  • You help pregnant women with delivery and labor.  
  • You will educate pregnant women about the alternatives to birthing options with their effects.
  • You routinely monitor the health of the newborn baby and mother.
  • You help them with parental care and take care after the delivery.  

Will it be equally rewarding? The Pros and Cons of Midwives without a Nursing Degree

Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing

There is no straight answer to this. But we have compiled information regarding the advantages and disadvantages of becoming a midwife without a nursing degree. Go through the pros and cons and you decide if this move would serve you well or not.

Pros of Becoming a Midwife Without a Nursing Degree 

Let’s discuss the advantages of becoming a midwife without needing to face a challenging nursing degree.

Easy entry into the workforce  

A nursing degree student has gone through a lot. They attained at least an ADN and then an RN to become a midwife – CNM. You, on the other hand, could take an easy route with a degree in any discipline or even without it and become a midwife and offer the same services.

No hectic degree studies

A nursing degree takes a lot of time, effort, and money. The courses are tough and the clinical hours make life hectic. You can escape this by becoming a CPM or a CM or RM, etc without a nursing degree.

Cons of Becoming a Midwife Without a Nursing Degree  

Let’s discuss the disadvantages –

Earning Potential

The salary difference between a nursing graduate midwife and a non-nursing background midwife is like that of land and sky.

The annual average salary of a CNM, certified nurse midwives is $120,880 while the average annual salary of non-nursing background midwives (like CPMs, licensed midwives, registered midwives, and lay midwives) is $60,160.

No work in Hospitals

Working in hospitals could be your dream but becoming a midwife without a degree would not let you work in hospitals. You will be working in other setups like birth clinics. Also, in those set-ups, you can run routine checkups only when the employer allows you to. 

Limited opportunities

You may remain as – just a caregiver. If you don’t hold any degree or are from states that don’t recognize CMs, you may remain only as a caregiver to mothers and newborn babies. 

Read More:

-> 7 Best Online Nursing Degrees for 2023

-> Nursing Degree- Best Schools, Major & Programs


How can I get better Pay as a Midwife?

If you aim to earn handsomely as a midwife, you must at least get an associate’s degree in nursing and then pass the NCLEX-RN exam. Enroll in an RN-MSN program in Midwifery. Post-completion of your program, pass the licensure exam, and there you are ready as a CNM – Certified Nurse Midwife.

Which is better CNM, CM, CPM, or RM/LM?

Clearly, CNMs stand out from the rest. Imagine yourself as a patient – who would you trust more, an RN becoming a midwife or some other?

Although, CMs are exceptions in some states as they are qualified to provide the same level of care as a CNM. But, not all states license CMs for independent practice.

How To Become a Certified Midwife Without a Nursing Degree?

You don’t require a nursing degree to become a CM (certified midwife). You could become one with a degree in any discipline. You need a bachelor’s degree and need to complete the science prerequisites.

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About the Author
Grant founded with a purpose-driven mission: make college accessible and affordable for everyone. After graduating college with an overwhelming amount of debt, he was determined to change how students embark on their education. He's a frequent speaker and author in higher education, and has been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg Businessweek, Business Insider, American Express, AOL, MSN, Thrive Global, Reader's Digest, Inside Higher Ed, Evolllution, EducationDive, and nearly 100 radio shows and podcasts.