When a woman is pregnant, one of her most important decisions is which health care provider to use. Most women in America rely on licensed OB/GYNs to deliver their babies. However, midwives are available for women who trust their bodies and want a less invasive, more autonomous care option. Depending on the branch of midwifery in which you are employed, pay can approach six figures, although most midwives make more modest salaries.
Many midwives enter the profession by attending formal training programs or completing apprenticeships. These midwives usually aren't affiliated with hospitals and other facilities, as they usually assist women in their own homes and are self-employed. The yearly salary for a direct-entry midwife is between $24,000 and $48,000, says the Citizens for Midwifery website. This translates to two to four births each month. Direct-entry midwives may make more if they assist with more births, as each birth garners $2,000 - $4,000. Even so, due to the unpredictability of the onset of labor, most midwives schedule cautiously so as to guarantee availability for delivery.
Certified Nurse Midwives
Certified nurse midwives, or CNMs, are different from direct-entry midwives in that they have gone to nursing school. They are advanced practice nurses (APNs), which means they are registered nurses (RNs) who have gone on to get at least a master's degree. The Allnursingschool website indicates that, based on 2009 information, CNMs earn $81,557 - $96,097 per year. These figures suggest that salaries for CNMs are in the upper percentiles for earnings of RNs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that only RNs in the 75th percentile or above earn $77,970 or more. RNs earn $93,700 in the 90th percentile. In general, a CNM thus usually makes more than a direct-entry midwife, as reported by the Midwife Education Accreditation Council (MEAC).
Where a midwife works affects her earnings. The BLS reports that, according to 2009 data, the five best regions for registered nurses (which include CNMs) are California, Massachusetts, Hawaii, Maryland and New Jersey. Pay in these states is between $74,990 and $85,080, or up to 23 percent higher than the average RN pay.
The BLS does not have similar data for direct-entry midwives. It is more difficult to assess pay for a direct-entry midwife by region due to the fact not all states recognize direct-entry midwives legally. Direct-entry midwives may operate "under the table" and ignore salary survey opportunities to avoid prosecution in the states where direct-entry midwifery is still not accepted.
As with any other profession, a midwife may earn more as she gains experience. This is particularly true for direct-entry midwives, because many direct-entry midwives have to rely on their experience rather than on a nursing degree to prove competence. Additionally, salaries may vary for CNMs depending on whether they are employed by a hospital, birthing center or other medical facility. They may earn a higher pay rate if they have a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree instead of the standard Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree.