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become a midwife

Become a midwife

Advice on beginning your midwifery career

As a midwife, you'll work at the heart of the community, as the primary co-ordinator of care for all pregnant, labouring and postnatal women. You will provide support, guidance and care for mother, baby and family.

A unique role

Being a midwife is a demanding and unique role. You’ll be responsible for creating and sustaining a positive relationship with the pregnant woman, to help her to have the best possible birth experience.  Many midwives carry their own caseload and work in community settings, while others are based in hospitals. There are lots of opportunities to add to your general midwifery skills by specialising in a particular area such as public health or overseeing teenage pregnancy clinics.

Midwives at the RCN

Midwives, student midwives and maternity support workers can become members of the RCN. Membership gives you support in the workplace and access to online resources and the RCN Library and Archives Services which can help with your continuing professional development. 

You can also join the Midwifery forum, allowing you to connect with other members to help shape and influence policy and practice. 

See how the RCN supports midwives in our guide Midwifery at the RCN: Supporting Midwives, Student Midwives and Maternity Support Workers.

The qualifications you’ll need

To become a midwife you’ll need a degree in midwifery, which takes three years to complete. If you’re already a registered adult nurse, you can undertake a shorter course instead, which takes 18 months. When you qualify, you’ll be able to register with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), allowing you to practise as a midwife.

You’ll spend around half of your degree on supervised practice placements in community and hospital settings, and you’ll also learn about the physical, emotional, social, political and cultural aspects of maternity care in the UK.

Find your midwifery degree

Visit the NHS Careers website to find a university near you offering midwifery degrees in England, or in Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales. Then visit each university's website to learn more about the content of the course. You might want to go along to an open day to talk to lecturers and current students. Once you have decided on a course and university, apply through UCAS.

Funding for your midwifery degree

From 1 August 2017 new students in England on most nursing, midwifery and allied health professional pre-registration courses will have access to the standard student support package of tuition fee loans and support for living costs, rather than getting an NHS bursary. 

The Department of Health have published information on NHS bursary reform.

The Funding Clinic provides more information on the new system and the funding available. 

Entry requirements

Each higher education institution sets its own requirements, so make sure you check before applying. This is usually around five GCSEs plus two A-levels or equivalent. You will also have to:

  • complete a health questionnaire and identify any special needs related to a disability
  • declare any past criminal convictions
  • allow the university to check whether you have a police record. You will not automatically be barred if you have a criminal conviction or caution. The university will take into account the circumstances and will treat any information in the strictest of confidence.

Maternity Support Workers (MSWs)

Maternity support workers are an integral part of the maternity workforce and play an important role in supporting midwives and the wider maternity teams, mothers and their babies through pregnancy, labour and during the postnatal period.

These documents highlight the roles and responsibilities of MSWs:

More information

You can find more information about becoming a midwife on the NHS Careers website.

Midwife with patient

Information about starting a career as a nurse or midwife 

Read our career guide for more information about nursing and midwifery, the qualifications you need, where you can study, costs and more.

front cover of RCN nursing career guide