How to Become a


The complete career guide to be a Doula: salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • $24,950
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • 6.3%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Growing Demand
    Job Outlook
  • Flexible Hours
    Career Attribute

Doulas are non-medical professionals that provide emotional support to expecting mothers and help with the deliveries of babies. They counsel pregnant women, help them choose between birthing options, assist with deliveries, teach Lamaze courses, and help new mothers learn to breastfeed.

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What is a Doula?

The following job responsibilities are common for individuals in doula roles:

  • Provide emotional support and education to expecting mothers during pregnancies
  • Assist during births by conducting calming exercises, or by handling natural births
  • Teach Lamaze courses and conduct other birthing exercises
  • Educate mothers on different birthing procedures, and counsel them on the risks of their choices
  • Teach new mothers how to breastfeed, and provide postpartum emotional support

A Day in the Life

Doulas provide services to help expecting mothers during the pregnancy and childbirth process, as well as post-childbirth care. In comparison with midwives or other gestational period care providers, a doula is non-medical and does not have the authorization to prescribe medication or to perform medical services. Instead, a doula provides emotional support for their client and ensures good communication between the mother and the medical care personnel.

Because childbirth can be an extremely stressful event, the doula’s role is to not only prepare the mother for the birth but also to be present to help improve comfort and provide encouragement. Most doulas will operate on a freelance basis, but some hospitals do have on-staff doulas to deliver a more comfortable experience and add another layer of reassurance to mothers giving birth.

While they are most commonly associated with pregnancy and childbirth, doulas can also play a major role during the postpartum period. In addition to providing general support while the mother recovers from the trauma of childbirth, many doulas can also assist with a number of ancillary tasks, such as breastfeeding support or general child care. The full scope of the doula’s services and responsibilities are handled on a client-by-client basis.

Typical Work Schedule

One of the advantages of working with a doula for expecting mothers is that doulas are more available than OBGYNs. Doulas are commonly available to their clients any time they’re needed and make take phone calls or be called in to assist with births at any hour of the day, any day of the week. Doulas may work part-time or full-time schedules, and their work may fluctuate from busy to slow at different times of the year.

Typical Employers

Most doulas are self-employed and take on clients on a freelance basis. Though it is uncommon, some doulas may be employed by hospitals or obstetrician gynecologists to provide emotional support and counseling services to expecting mothers during pregnancies, during labor, and after giving birth.

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How To Become a Doula

The process to become a doula is quite easy. Most professionals will attend a seminar lasting three days or less to learn the basics of the job. This instruction will focus on breathing techniques, relaxation exercises, and how to provide quality communication between mothers in labor and attending medical personnel. While a seminar or other instruction can be helpful in the training of a doula, it is not required.

For those that do decide to pursue technical doula training, the primary options are through DONA International or Cappa, two organizations that provide doula certification classes. In addition to on-the-job techniques and abilities, both also offer practical training to assist new doulas with finding clients and continuing education to further the doula’s knowledge base. Doula certification also includes adult and infant CPR instruction.

In general, having experience with the childbirth process is more important than formal education, and many doulas get their start by either giving birth to children of their own or working directly with an established local doula. Once a doula has gained enough experience and/or training to be confident in their ability to provide quality services, local hospitals may be a solution for finding a position or the person could begin to offer independent doula services.

Doula Salary Data

We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Anual Salary

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National Hourly Wage

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How do Doula salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Doula's can make an average annual salary of $24,950, or $12 per hour. This makes it an Above Average Salary. On the lower end, they can make $19,330 or $9 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #773 Nationally for All Careers

Highest Education Among Doulas

  • 0.7%   Doctorate
  • 3.5%   Masters
  • 14.7%   Bachelors
  • 8.9%   Associates
  • 29.4%   College
  • 33%   High School
  • 9.9%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs


2024 Est. Jobs


Job Growth Rate


Est. New Jobs


How does Doula job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 5,900 jobs for a total of 99,100 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 6.3% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Below Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #351 Nationally for All Careers

What Companies Employ The Most Doulas

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Self-employed workers 27,500 2,500 3%
State government, excluding education and hospitals 14,600 200 0%
Personal care services 9,400 -100 ---

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