A career in midwifery would suit you if you have a calm and caring nature, are an excellent communicator and work well with people
Midwives provide advice, care and support for women and their babies during pregnancy, labour and the early postnatal period. You'll help women to make their own decisions about the care and services they access and will provide health education and parenting advice until care is transferred to a health visitor.
You're personally responsible for the health of both mother and child and will only refer to obstetricians if there are medical complications. Work is carried out in multidisciplinary teams in both hospital and, increasingly, community healthcare settings.
As a midwife, you'll be involved in:
Income data from Health Careers. Figures are intended as a guide only.
Working hours typically include unsocial hours. The working week is usually 37.5 hours and is likely to include day and night shifts. Community and independent midwives are regularly on call 24 hours and you should expect to be part of an on-call rota at some point in your career.
Many midwives prefer to work part time. Self-employment or working freelance is sometimes possible and you can choose to work in independent practice, which may offer more opportunity for continuity of care. Career breaks may be available.
To practice as a midwife in the UK, you must be registered with the Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC). To become registered, you'll need to have completed an approved pre-registration midwifery programme, which lasts three years full time. Half of the course is spent studying at university, while the other half is based in practical placements to provide you with hands-on experience.
Part-time courses are available to those who are working in a relevant role and usually take five to six years. If you're already a qualified nurse, you can take a midwifery short programme, which allows you to qualify sooner than the three-year course.
You can search for all types of midwifery degrees at Health Careers: Course Finder.
Acceptance on to a course will be subject to satisfactory health clearance and a disclosure and barring service (DBS) check. Having a criminal conviction or caution won't automatically bar you from working in the NHS.
The NHS provides funding to cover tuition fees for students who are UK residents. Check with your chosen institution to find out if your course is eligible for funding. You may also be entitled to a bursary to help with living costs. More information can be found at NHS Student Bursaries.
For bursary information if you are attending courses in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland see:
Gaining a place on a direct-entry course to midwifery is highly competitive, so you should aim to apply early.
You will need to show:
Pre-entry experience in a caring role within health and social care is a distinct advantage. Many midwives with previous nursing experience believe that it was useful when they started midwifery training.
Useful experience might include supporting teenage parents, working with breastfeeding groups or charities dealing with issues such as birth defects, bereavement or miscarriage.
The vast majority of midwives in England are employed by the NHS in:
The structure of the NHS is somewhat different in other parts of the UK.
Other types of employers include:
Some midwives are self-employed. University hospitals also employ midwives in joint partnerships between the trust and the university to work in lecturer-practitioner positions, or to conduct research.
Look for job vacancies at:
Many recruitment agencies, such as Pulse, regularly handle vacancies and a searchable directory is available at Nursing Agencies List. Job vacancies and information on becoming a midwife and making your application stand out is available from Your Midwife Career.
As a newly qualified midwife, you will typically be given a formal period of support under the guidance of an experienced professional colleague. They'll be on hand to offer advice and help in the first few months of professional practice.
Throughout your career, you'll need to maintain your registration with the Nursing & Midwifery Council, which has to be renewed every three years. To do this you must show you've met revalidation requirements within that time. These include:
CPD participatory learning must involve interaction with at least one other professional and can include attending conferences, workshops or relevant training courses and events. Find out more at NMC Revalidation.
There are opportunities to extend your role by taking specialist courses in areas such as enhanced midwifery practice, family planning, teaching in clinical practice, and research. Information on relevant events, courses and resources is available from The Royal College of Midwives. There are also opportunities for further study at degree, Masters and PhD level. Search for postgraduate courses in midwifery.
Midwives are able to work in a number of different healthcare settings to develop experience and knowledge, which can lead to a range of career paths.
You could become a clinical specialist in an area such as:
You might become a consultant midwife, dividing your time between working directly with patients and training and leading improvements in practice.
Higher management opportunities exist as a head of midwifery services or a supervisor of midwives with the local supervising authority. You could also choose to go into teaching or research within a healthcare setting or a university. There are also specialist roles in areas such as public health, parenting education, intensive care neonatal units, ultrasound and foetal medicine.
You can find opportunities for travel in both the EU and overseas, either still practising as a midwife or working for organisations such as Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO). In some countries, however, midwives must also hold registered nurse status in order to practise, so you should check this before applying.