7 things you need to know about becoming a midwife.
How much do midwives get paid? And how do you become a midwife? We give you some pointers to this challenging yet rewarding role with our 7 aspects to becoming a midwife.
1. Midwifery is a health science and health profession dealing with mums-to-be, pregnancy, childbirth, and the postnatal period.
Hours can be long, working shifts over a 35-40 hour week. Midwives can work either for the NHS or in the private section. The role can be extremely demanding, yet rewarding with scope for specialising in particular areas of this health science within the healthcare industry.
Experienced fully qualified midwives can earn around £45,000 per annum, but there are different salary bands, so keep reading to find out more.
To become a midwife ideally, you’ll need a degree in midwifery, which takes three years to complete but there are different routes into this career. 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.
But first, lets look more about the role of a midwife.
2. Midwifery daily tasks cover a range of activities, including:
- Working with expectant mums to give them advice during their pregnancy.
- Giving birthing options to pregnant women and advice on pain relief.
- Run ante-natal classes.
- Help deliver the baby, giving pain relief and monitoring the health of baby and mum during the birth.
- Help give postnatal check and advice after the birth.
You may work for the National Health Service or for a private health care company. You could work at the home of a patient, at a health centre, at a GP practise or in an NHS or private hospital.
Your working environment may be physically and emotionally demanding and you will probably wear a uniform.
3. Career path and progression
Entry-level salaries for newly qualified midwives start at around £19,000 depending on experience and can rise to around £45,000 per year. Midwives working for the NHS are paid according to a fixed pay scale, known as Agenda for Change, which we touch on further in the article. There are lots of opportunities for midwives to progress in their careers with more experience. As well as offering support to mothers and babies, you will support other midwives in their practice.
Your skills need to be kept up-to-date and will be renewed every three years. If you are a self-employed midwife bear in mind any fees and insurance that you may need to fund yourself.
With experience, you could become a ward manager or team leader. You could combine responsibility for managing other staff with ongoing hands-on involvement with families by becoming a team or unit manager or supervisor. You could take further training to specialise in areas like ultrasound or neonatal care. You could also train to become a health visitor, a director of midwifery or a midwifery consultant.
Read on to find out about entry to the field of midwifery.
4. Sounds interesting? There are different routes into becoming a midwife. Depending on your current situation, you could:
Study for a 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. More details can be found on UCAS.
Apprenticeships in England – you may be lucky enough to find a health care service to take you on as an apprentice where you receive work-based training. Your employer will pay the training fees, and you will earn a small salary during the scheme. Once you complete the scheme as a student midwife, you will become a qualified midwife. More details can be found at the Royal College of Midwives.
You may already have some experience working within the health care industry and can start to build on your training through a conversion course. These usually take between 18 and 24 months.
5. Skills required to become a midwife
You’ll need a mixture of people skills and attention to detail, as well as health science and psychology skills. You’ll need to be sensitive and listen without any judgement to your patients. No two days will be the same, and you could encounter some pretty stressful situations. Of course, you will need your health science midwifery knowledge to sit alongside these skills.
If you have any experience in nursing or health care, you can add this to your job application or training application. You can volunteer or may find paid work to build your experience through your local NHS trust https://www.nhs.uk/servicedirectories/pages/nhstrustlisting.aspx
6. So, let’s get to it….. how much do midwives earn?
Usually, the starting salary for a new midwife is around £19,000-£22,000 per annum. This salary would be for an entry-level, graduate or junior midwife. The salary scale can increase significantly over time with experience, rising to between £35,000 – £40,000 for a senior midwife. The salaries are set at bands –
Salaries for newly qualified midwives are set at Band 5, which starts at £24,907.
- You can then progress up to Band 6, which ranges from £31,365 to £37,890.
- Salaries at Band 7, are in the region of £38,890 to £44,503. Here you could be working at a more senior level, e.g. managing a team,
- With additional experience, you could become a nurse consultant, which is in Band 8b – 8c, which ranges from £51,168 to £73,664. This is the higher end pay scale of midwifery.
7. Finding a job as a midwife
There is a shortage of midwives in the UK. Current figures state the UK is short of around 2,500 full-time midwives. It is worth registering your details with job sites and recruitment agencies. There are also NHS Health Trusts that advertise jobs for midwives.
More information from:
- Nursing & Midwifery Council registration
- The Department of Health have published information on NHS bursary reform on their website.
- The Funding Clinic provides more information on the new system and the funding available.
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.