How Do I Become a Midwife Without a Nursing Degree?

Midwives have been crucial in maternal healthcare for centuries, providing prenatal and postnatal care to pregnant women and their newborns. According to the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM), the origins of midwifery can be traced back to the Paleolithic era, around 40,000 B.C. During this time, women faced the daunting task of giving birth in complex and often dangerous circumstances, relying on their understanding and techniques learned by observing other mammals. In the 21st century, midwifery remains a fulfilling profession that requires high-level medical skills and a deep passion for helping others.

A common route to becoming a nurse midwife is obtaining an associate’s degree or higher in nursing, passing the NCLEX exam to become a registered nurse (RN), and earning certification from an organization such as the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB). However, there are alternative pathways for aspiring midwives that don’t involve a nursing degree. 

The midwife title has many key distinctions based on education, certification, and experience. For example, according to the Midwives Alliance of North America (MANA), midwives can be classified into one of three categories: 

  • Certified nurse midwives: Known by their professional title as certified nurse midwives (CNMs), these professionals typically have a nurse practitioner graduate degree or higher, an advanced practice registered nursing (APRN) license, and professional certification in nurse-midwifery 
  • Direct-entry midwives: May or may not have nursing education but often have training in a health-related field, experience, and credentials
  • Traditional midwives: Community-based individuals with experience who opt out of certification or licensure for religious, personal, or philosophical reasons

The role of a midwife is crucial in ensuring a healthy childbirth journey for mothers and their babies, regardless of their qualifications. While earning a nursing degree in midwifery can lead to a rewarding career and improve women’s healthcare outcomes during childbirth, there are also pathways to becoming a midwife without going into nursing. Read on for a step-by-step guide to becoming a midwife without a nursing degree.

Step-by-Step Guide to Becoming a Midwife Without a Nursing Degree

Step 1A: Graduate from High School (Four Years)

The first step towards becoming a midwife starts right from high school graduation. Students should consider taking biology, chemistry, and health sciences courses and look for opportunities to gain experience in healthcare settings such as hospitals or clinics, which could include volunteering or part-time work.

Step 1B: Earn an Undergraduate Degree (Two to Four Years; Optional)

Although an undergraduate degree is optional to becoming a midwife in some areas, it can be advantageous to have one since midwifery programs are gradually being integrated into the college curriculum. An associate’s or bachelor’s degree in a science or healthcare-related field, such as biology, anatomy, public health, or health, can offer a robust, valuable foundation in midwifery training. 

For those considering a career in the high-demand nursing field, an associate’s of science in nursing (ADN) or a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) also provides a solid foundation for a healthcare career in midwifery and beyond. In 2022, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that master’s-prepared nurse practitioners were the second-fastest growing profession in the United States, with a staggering 44.5 percent growth rate predicted growth rate from 2022-2032. This growth rate is slated to create 118,600 new jobs.

Step 2: Enroll in a MEAC-Accredited Midwifery Program

The Midwifery Education Accreditation Council (MEAC) accredits college, university, and educational training programs in midwifery. Some colleges and universities offer midwifery programs open to candidates with non-nursing backgrounds. These standards-based programs cover all of the essential elements of midwifery, including prenatal care, labor and delivery, postpartum care, and neonatal healthcare. In addition, it includes clinical placements, which provide practical experience in a hospital, birthing center, or healthcare facility. Completing a MEAC-accredited training program opens doors to earning midwife certification. 

Step 3: Obtain Certification from a Midwifery Organization (timeline varies)

Certification is vital for the protection of mothers and midwives. Certification ensures that a midwife meets the high standards set by an organization and proves that a professional is qualified to practice as a midwife. It also may be required for state licensure. 

The North American Registry of Midwives (NARM) offers the Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) credential for midwives without nursing degrees. Applicants can qualify for the exam by meeting specific requirements set by the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB) before taking the NARM exam. This exam is computer-based, with 300 multiple-choice questions over two three-hour sessions. Application fees range from $135 to $450, depending on the phase, and the exam fee is $1,155 (NARM 2023). 

Step 4: Get Licensed (timeline varies) 

The requirements to get a license for midwifery vary from state to state. So, checking into a specific area’s regulations is essential to learn the qualifications, exams, and other requirements. In some states, certification from a recognized midwifery organization may be sufficient to obtain and maintain a credential. Other states may require additional education or tests. It’s crucial to meet all the necessary state-specific qualifications to avoid potential legal problems in the future. 

Please see NARM’s resources on state-licensure requirements (if any) for midwives and this state-by-state midwifery licensure table

Step 5: Gain Experience (timeline varies)

Experience is essential to becoming a midwife, regardless of whether a candidate holds a nursing degree. By completing a midwifery program and earning certification, aspiring midwives can access hands-on learning experiences to apply their clinical skills and knowledge gained in school. Logging the required number of clinical hours to obtain midwifery certification as a healthcare provider is crucial.

Midwife Programs

Commonsense Childbirth School of Midwifery (CCSM)

The Commonsense Childbirth School of Midwifery (CCSM) offers a comprehensive and culturally sensitive midwifery training program that aims to prepare highly competent midwives. The school emphasizes teaching the art of out-of-hospital birth, differentiating between low-risk and high-risk pregnancies, and preparing students to operate as professional midwives. 

CCSM provides two programs: the Hybrid Direct-Entry Midwifery Program and the Licensure by Endorsement Program. The Hybrid Direct-Entry Program is adapted to meet the needs of aspiring midwives across the nation, with academic courses offered virtually, clinical lab courses on campus during trimester workshops, and clinical externships in their local community over a period of three years. On the other hand, the Licensure by Endorsement Program is designed for experienced foreign-trained midwives or doctors, as well as registered or licensed midwives from other states, and focuses on preparing them for careers as Florida Licensed Midwives. 

  • Location: Winter Garden, FL
  • Duration: Three years
  • Accreditation: Midwifery Education Accreditation Council (MEAC) 
  • Tuition: $27,000 total

Florida School of Traditional Midwifery 

The Florida School of Traditional Midwifery offers two primary programs: the 3-Year Direct-Entry Midwifery Program and the Four-Month Licensure by Endorsement Program. The Direct-Entry Program is designed for students with no prior midwifery or nursing education. It includes academic and clinical learning experiences required for graduation as per Florida’s Midwifery Practice Act, Florida Administrative Code (FAC) 64B24, and requirements set by the North American Registry of Midwives (NARM). 

The program comprises 91 credits, totaling 2,505 clock hours of instruction, and takes three years to complete. The curriculum includes foundational courses like Anatomy & Physiology I and II, Healthcare Skills I and II, Microbiology, and Pharmacology during the first year. Core midwifery courses such as Antepartum, Intrapartum, and Postpartum are covered in the second year, while advanced midwifery topics are taught in the third year. 

The Licensure by Endorsement Program prepares maternity care providers credentialed in other states or countries for licensure as Florida Licensed Midwives. To apply, candidates must have their credentials and midwifery education reviewed and approved by a recognized independent credentialing agency before enrollment. Graduates from both programs are eligible to sit for the NARM exam and become Florida Licensed Midwives (LM) and Certified Professional Midwives (CPM).

  • Location: Gainesville, FL
  • Duration: Three years
  • Accreditation: Midwifery Education Accreditation Council (MEAC) 
  • Tuition: $39,168 total

Mercy in Action College of Midwifery 

Mercy In Action College of Midwifery offers aspiring midwives a comprehensive, community-based distance learning program. The academic year commences with an online orientation week where students are introduced to the degree specifics, curriculum, schedule, and general expectations. Students continue their academic work online from the third semester onwards while beginning clinical placements with a qualified community midwife at their chosen location. 

Students follow through their cohorts until graduation, participating in online discussion boards and collaborating on assignments. Post-graduation, there’s assistance provided for networking with local midwives or optional international placements. The application deadlines are February 1 for Early Enrollment, March 15 for Regular Enrollment, and May 1 for Late Enrollment. Applicants receive acceptance notifications a month after the respective application deadlines. The Fall 2023 semester begins in late August. The Midwifery Education Accreditation Council accredited the college and registered with the Idaho State Board of Education.

  • Location: Boise, ID
  • Duration: Four years
  • Accreditation: Midwifery Education Accreditation Council (MEAC) 
  • Tuition: $29,795 total

Midwives College of Utah 

The Midwives College of Utah offers a rigorous and comprehensive midwifery program to equip students with the skills and knowledge necessary to provide exceptional care as professional midwives. The program is delivered through an innovative distance education model, allowing students to learn at their own pace and in their communities. It combines academic study with hands-on clinical experience, providing a well-rounded education in theoretical and practical aspects of midwifery. 

The application requirements for this program include a minimum age of 21 years, a high school diploma or equivalent, proficiency in English language, basic computer skills, and the ability to participate in physical tasks associated with midwifery. Applicants must also submit a personal statement, three letters of recommendation, and complete an interview process. For those interested in furthering their education, the college offers a master’s degree in midwifery.

  • Location: Salt Lake City, UT
  • Duration: Three years
  • Accreditation: Midwifery Education Accreditation Council (MEAC) 
  • Tuition: $30,240 total

Midwife Program Admissions Requirements

Admissions requirements to midwifery programs vary based on the type of degree conferred. For programs that lead to certification in midwifery without an undergraduate degree, here are some standard admissions requirements set forth by the American Midwifery Certification Board and state licensure boards: 

  • High school diploma or GED
  • Basic computer skills
  • Personal statement
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Interview

Midwife Certifications & State Licensure

Midwife Certification

The Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) credential, offered by the North American Registry of Midwives (NARM), is a comprehensive certification with various application routes. 

The certification and recertification process involves thorough guidelines, informed disclosure, informed consent, and emergency care forms. The Candidate Information Booklet is valuable for understanding the NARM Examination and the Midwifery Bridge Certificate. 

For professional development, NARM provides resources encompassing: 

  • Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) training
  • Continuing Education Units (CEU) 
  • Cultural awareness
  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) information 
  • Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP)

Preceptors play a significant role in the certification process, and specific policies and resources are in place to guide preceptor-student relationships. NARM also emphasizes accountability in midwifery care, with mechanisms for community peer review, complaint review, and a grievance procedure. The NARM website is a wealth of information, providing insights into the history of the CPM credential.

Midwife State Licensure

Although state licensure forms the legal foundation for practicing midwifery, most states require certification from the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB) to obtain this license. Additionally, many institutions mandate AMCB certification as a prerequisite for granting the privileges to practice.

Rachel Drummond, MEd

Rachel Drummond, MEd


At, Rachel Drummond has applied her extensive experience in education and mindfulness to elucidate the importance of self-care for nursing students since 2022. Through her writings, she underscores the role of mental and physical well-being in fostering resilient and compassionate healthcare professionals.

Rachel is a writer, educator, and coach from Oregon. She has a master’s degree in education (MEd) and has over 15 years of experience teaching English, public speaking, and mindfulness to international audiences in the United States, Japan, and Spain. She writes about the mind-body benefits of contemplative movement practices like yoga on her blog, inviting people to prioritize their unique version of well-being and empowering everyone to live healthier and more balanced lives.