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A Guide to a Career in Midwifery

Published: Friday 8th November 2019

There’s a lot more to midwifery than just childbirth, so it pays to know all the facts before deciding to pursue a career as a midwife. Talking to those already employed in the profession is a good way to get a feel for the work involved and decide if it’s for you.

Maternity nurse wearing scrubs holding newborn baby wrapped in blanket

Bringing new life to your career

Midwifery is a challenging career choice that’s as much about building relationships as it is with bringing new life into the world. For the most part, however, midwife jobs are there to support women before, during and after childbirth, in order to create the best possible environment for the new-born child.

While the UK birth rate is falling, there are still around 27,000 midwives working in England today and more are needed. As you’d expect, it’s not a nine-to-five job. Midwifes can be found working day and night in surgery assisting with C-sections, delivering babies in the labour ward, or in the antenatal ward monitoring heart rate and contractions. Travel is often involved in order to visit pregnant mothers. Some midwives work on a one-to-one basis where they are dedicated to a single pregnant woman. Alternatively, many others are based in community health centres, while others work in research roles.

In the Hospital Midwife Gives Newborn Baby to a Mother to Hold, Supportive Father

Training to be a midwife

Midwifery training in the UK is of a very high standard and many who qualify go on to work overseas. You’ll need to start by completing a three year degree in midwifery. This covers biological sciences, applied sociology, psychology and professional practice. Your time will be generally split between academic study and hands-on clinical practice.

Entry requirements will depend largely on where you study. Typically, however, you’ll need five GCSE’s at grade C or above, plus two A-levels, or a HE qualification, such as a level 3 GNVQ/GSVQ, or a BTEC National Diploma.

Those already in a healthcare role may continue to work and complete the course part-time over five or six years. Although there’s a national shortage of midwives, competition for places on midwifery training courses is very tough. Previous experience in a caring profession will give you an advantage.

Young students in hall of university indoors

Once qualified, you’ll need to register with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) and give notice to the local supervising authority that you intend to practice. As with any job in healthcare, you’ll need to keep up to date with latest research in your field, demonstrating every three years that you’ve met the NMC’s requirements for continued learning.

Born to be a midwife?

Make no mistake, midwifery can be physical and emotionally demanding. You’ll need to be a multi-tasker, who can be caring, empathetic and understanding while under pressure. However, it can be a flexible career option too. Many midwives are self-employed and work part-time, so it’s a good option for those who are parents themselves.

Young mother holding her newborn child. Mom nursing baby.

Demand for qualified midwives is high, both in the NHS and private sector. A newly qualified midwife working for the NHS on the first pay point in band 5 can expect a salary of £21,176. Salaries in the private sector vary. A supervisor can earn up to £41,000, while a consultant midwife can expect to earn in the region of £67,000 annually, so there are excellent opportunities for progression. If you’re looking for a new opportunity as a midwife, you’ll find plenty of vacancies to apply from on Zoek.

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