How to Become a Labor and Delivery Nurse:
The Definitive Guide

Do you enjoy taking care of others?

Have you always been the first person to jump to action when situations get stressful?

Are you a Registered Nurse who is looking for a great opportunity to work with pregnant women and babies?

Then working as a Labor and Delivery Nurse might be right up your alley.

A career as a Labor and Delivery Nurse can be a rewarding and emotional experience.

What is a Labor and Delivery Nurse?

Every day, women all over the world give birth, and Labor and Delivery Nurses are there to help guide them.

Putting trust in someone in your most vulnerable moments can be difficult, that’s why Labor and Delivery Nurses must be empathetic and ready to help at a moment’s notice.

These brave men and women will assistant pregnant patients when they are in the process of giving birth.

This can be providing medication for the mother or simply adjusting her pillows, the Labor and Delivery nurse is there to help before and after the birthing process.


As a Labor and Delivery Nurse, it is likely that you will work in hospitals or clinics helping pregnant women give birth to their babies.

Some of the daily tasks that a Labor and Delivery Nurse does includes:

  • Monitoring patients
  • Entering patient data into medical records
  • Spending one on one time with patients
  • Administering medication
  • Coaching the mother
  • Assisting with the birth
  • Monitoring fetal heartbeat
  • Provide guidance on all aspects of delivery and post-delivery


On average, a Labor and Delivery Nurse makes about $77,000 a year.

However, after many years of experience, it’s likely that this salary can rise to over $100,000 a year.

In some states, the average salary for a Labor and Delivery Nurse is $113,000 like California.

Other areas, such as Idaho, the salary is a bit lower, at around $65,000 a year.

Those that are just starting out in this career will typically see a salary of around $52,000.

It’s very easy to make more money in the nursing field, as there are opportunities to learn and grow your specialization and certifications all of the time.

  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

Annually National Average Salary: $77,460


Average Annual Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
District of Columbia$94,820
New Hampshire$73,880
New Jersey$84,280
New Mexico$73,300
New York$87,840
North Carolina$66,440
North Dakota$66,290
Rhode Island$82,310
South Carolina$64,840
South Dakota$59,540
West Virginia$63,220
Puerto Rico$35,040
Virgin Islands$68,500

Annual Average Salary: Top 5 States

The top earning state in the field is California, where the average salary is $113,240.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

California - $113,240
Hawaii - $104,060
District of Columbia - $94,820
Massachusetts - $93,160
Oregon - $92,960
* Employment conditions in your area may vary. * Salary information based on the May 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey.
Conducted by: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Department of Labor.

How to Become a Labor and Delivery Nurse

Step 1Earn a Degree

It’s crucial to earn an education in order to become a nurse of any kind.

If you want to become a Registered Nurse, you must first enter a nursing program.

The most popular style of the nursing program is a Bachelor’s degree in nursing.

This degree takes around four years to finish and often requires clinical, internships, and lab work.

Some of the classes that are in a typical Bachelors degree nursing program are:

  • Chemistry
  • Microbiology
  • Physiology and Anatomy
  • Nursing Ethics
  • Nursing Practice
  • Nursing Law

It’s possible to earn a degree online, however, it’s important that all lab work and clinical are done in-person to gain hands-on experience.

Some nurses earn an Associate’s degree first and then work toward a Bachelor’s degree with job experience.

This is only an option in some areas of the United States.

To become a Labor and Delivery Nurse, you should take elective classes focused on pregnancy and childbirth.

Step 2Become Registered

Everyone that wants to work as a nurse in the United States must be licensed and registered.

In order to earn a license, recently graduated nurses must take the NCLEX-RN exam.

This exam shows the competency of the nurse and grades based on how many questions are answered correctly.

Registration for this exam can be done with you are still taking classes, so that you can be put on the waitlist that much sooner.

The exam is given all across the country and is even available online.

To study for the exam, you should take a look at areas like:

  • Physiological integrity
  • Safe and Effective Care Management
  • Health Promotion and Maintenance
  • Psychosocial

Once you finish the exam, you will get your results in about 6 weeks.

This is a pass-or-fail exam, and if you fail you can take the test after 45 days.

You are permitted to take the test three times a year.

After passing the exam, you will be considered a Registered Nurse.

Step 3Gain Experience

For Labor and Delivery Nurses, having experience is key in having a great career.

When you start your career as a Registered Nurse, think about the types of areas in the hospital or doctor’s office that you wish to work.

If you want to work in Labor and Delivery, get as many chances to work with pregnant women and birthing mothers as possible.

There are many places to gather hands-on experience as a Labor and Delivery Nurse:

  • Clinics like Planned Parenthood
  • Midwife Centers
  • Doctor’s Offices
  • OB/GYN Offices
  • Hospitals

Having hands-on knowledge of this career is expected, but there are other ways you can make yourself stand out.

Investing in continued education can increase your likelihood of a raise or promotion.

Some of the types of courses you can take include:

  • Fetal Heart Monitoring
  • Critical Care Obstetrics
  • Post-Birth Warning Signs

After several years of experience, you can become certified as a Labor and Delivery Nurse.

Step 4Get Certified

It takes several years to gain enough experience as a Labor and Delivery Nurse to become certified.

Even though certification isn’t required for this career, it can lead to many more job opportunities, as well as raises and bonuses.

A certification through the National Certification Corporation will be the only accredited certification for this career.

There are many certifications found under the National Certification Corporation that can be obtained by a Labor and Delivery Nurse.

Some of the certifications are:

  • Inpatient Obstetric Nursing
  • Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (Often you will need a Masters degree for this certification)
  • Neonatal Intensive Care Nursing
  • Obstetric Neonatal Quality and Safety

The National Certification Corporation website has many other certifications to choose from.

The requirements for individual certifications may vary.


In order to be a Labor and Delivery Nurse, it’s crucial that you earn some type of formal education.

There are many different nursing programs across the United States, some online and some in person.

However, most employers require nurses to have at least a Bachelor’s degree in order to be hired.

For full-time students, a Bachelor’s degree can take about four years to finish.

This includes internships, clinical, and any other hands-on experience.

Part-time students can expect to take anywhere from 5 to 6 years to become a Labor and Delivery Nurse.

A Bachelors degree will require that you take many elective classes, general education classes like English, psychology, and science, but also many classes specifically for nurses, including:

  • Nursing Ethics
  • Microbiology
  • Pharmacology
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Statistics and Probability

There will also be a need to do clinical, which are opportunities for nurses to apply their knowledge to other nurses or sometimes even volunteers.

Clinicals can last anywhere from 6 weeks to 6 months, depending on the desired education.

Many programs also require that students shadow a nurse, or begin an internship in order to become familiar with the job role.

After earning a Bachelor’s degree in nursing, it’s important to become registered and start your career.

Those who are interested in working in the labor and delivery ward of the hospital should consider working in those areas of the hospital or doctor’s office.

Once you have a few years of experience working as a Labor and Delivery Nurse, you may want to further your education and earn certificates in specializations like:

  • Fetal Heart Monitoring
  • Post-Birth Warning Signs
  • Neonatal Resuscitation
  • Certified Nurse Midwife

Many local community colleges and universities offer certificate classes for nurses who are interested in pursuing more education.

Most certificate programs can take about a year to complete, however, there are some accelerated programs that may take only six months.

  • Nursing Ethics
  • Microbiology
  • Pharmacology
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Statistics and Probability

Video About The Career

Licensing and Certification

The first thing to do on your checklist after graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in nursing is to get registered.

This means that you will have a license to nurse and be able to gain employment anywhere in the United States.

To become licensed, you must take the NCLEX-RN exam, which is based on how much you know about nursing.

This exam has anywhere from 75 to 200 questions and can be taken on the computer.

Most prospective nurses take around 6 hours to finish the exam.

There are many different areas to cover on this exam, but the main components include:

  • Health Promotion and Maintenance
  • Psychosocial
  • Physiological Integrity
  • Safe and Effective Care Environment

Once you finish the exam, you can get your results back in as little as 6 weeks.

Passing the exam means that you have become a licensed and registered nurse in the United States.

After three years, you will need to recertify by taking another exam or continuing your education.

If you have been working as a Labor and Delivery Nurse for a few years, you may be interested in learning a bit more and becoming certified in a specific area.

The National Certification Corporation hands all certifications for Labor and Delivery Nurses.

They have hundreds of certifications on their website, with varying costs and requirements.

Some of the certifications include:

  • Care of the Extremely Low Birthweight Neonate
  • Neonatal Neuro-Intensive Care
  • Electronic Fetal Monitoring
  • Maternal Newborn Nursing

Most of these certifications are provided by taking an exam on the website.

The typical requirements for these certifications are:

  • You must be a registered and licensed nurse
  • You must have at least 24 months of experience in Labor and Delivery
  • Have had employment in the specialty within the last 24 months

On average, the exams cost around $325 and can take nearly 3 hours to finish.

After finishing the exam, it can take several weeks to find out your scores and earn your certification.

Certification Example:

nursing ba example

Average Training Program Duration: 4+ Years

There are not many Labor and Delivery nurse training programs, this is because the hands-on experience is the best way to learn.

Most certification exams can be taken as soon as you pay the fee, but you must have at least 2 years of experience as a Labor and Delivery Nurse before you are eligible to take the exam.

Once you gain certification, it is good for three years, after which you must resubmit your information, and possibly have to take the exam over again.

Continuing your education is another key aspect of this career, taking classes or earning certificates in specialty areas will help you gain employment and raises.

Popular Degree Programs

Job Outlook

The job outlook for all Registered Nurses, including Labor and Delivery Nurses, will rise around 12 percent over the next decade.

This means that it is the perfect time to begin a career as a Labor and Delivery Nurse.

The use of technology has made it possible for more people to have children, which means that there will be a bigger need for Labor and Delivery Nurses to help deliver those babies.

Also, the fact that the baby boomer generation is growing older and retiring means that more job openings are going to be available for new Labor and Delivery Nurses all over the United States.

For the highest job possibilities, look for a career in a hospital or clinic that is in a large city rather than a small town.

Employment Growth Projection: 12%


That's a higher than average projected growth of 371,500 jobs.

Should You Become a Labor and Delivery Nurse?

Overall Satisfaction

Overall Satisfaction: High

Most Labor and Delivery nurses say that they are satisfied with their careers.

They enjoy assisting women to deliver their children into the world and find that helping others makes their job that much more enjoyable.

The pay for this career is substantial, however, the hours can be slightly difficult.

There’s no telling when a mother will go into labor, so a Labor and Delivery Nurse must be on the ball for their entire shift, which can be a bit stressful.

Overall, Labor and Delivery Nurses have high satisfaction with all the Nursing departments.

Average Salary

Average Salary: High

As a Labor and Delivery Nurse, you can expect to make about $77,000 a year in most states.

If you are just beginning your career as a Labor and Delivery Nurse, it’s possible that you may only make about $52,000 a year to begin.

After many years of experience, certifications, and specializations, it’s possible to make over $100,000 a year in this career.

Areas with higher populations will likely have Labor and Delivery Nurses who make more money.

For example, Labor and Delivery Nurses who work in California make about $113,000 a year on average.

Those who work in Colorado make about $77,000 a year.

Job Growth Outlook

Job Growth Outlook: High

Just like every other Registered Nurse, a Labor and Delivery Nurse should not have a problem finding a job opportunity anytime soon.

Labor and Delivery Nurses, as well as all other nurses, will likely see a growth of around 12 percent over the next decade.

This growth is due to the baby boomer population retiring so that more job openings are available for new and incoming Labor and Delivery Nurses.

Also, advancements in technology have increased the necessity of nurses, especially in high-intensity areas like Labor and Delivery.

Education Duration

Education Duration: 4+ Years

It may take some time to become a Labor and Delivery Nurse, as the average Bachelor’s degree in nursing takes about four years to finish.

After earning a Bachelor’s degree, many Labor and Delivery nurses earn a certificate to become Certified in their field.

A certification course can vary, depending on where you enroll.

Some courses can take six weeks, while others depend on how much education you have.

All in all, it can take about four to five years to become a Labor and Delivery Nurse.

Personal Skills Needed

Personal Skills Needed

Labor and the birthing process can be scary and a whole new world for many women out there today.

A great Labor and Delivery Nurse will help pregnant women in their most vulnerable moments, so they must have certain qualities.

The qualities that make a great Labor and Delivery Nurse are:

  • Empathy
  • Assertiveness
  • Leadership skills
  • Communication skills
  • Ability to work as a team
  • Ability to manage stress levels
  • Sense of urgency
  • Time management skills
  • Nursing skills
  • Compassion
  • Multitasking skills
  • Attention to detail

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is the average salary of a Labor and Delivery Nurse?

Most Labor and Delivery Nurses in the United States can expect a yearly salary of around $77,000.

New Labor and Delivery Nurses with little experience should see a salary of around $52,000 a year, to begin with.

After many years of experience and even a certification, it’s possible to earn over $100,000 a year as a Labor and Delivery Nurse.

For the highest salaries, working in hospitals in areas with large populations is the best choice.

Q. How long does it take to become a Labor and Delivery Nurse?

On average, it takes about four years to earn the education to become a nurse, but it also takes a couple of years of experience to learn the ropes to becoming a Labor and Delivery Nurse.

Earning a Bachelor’s degree is the safest bet when looking to pursue a career as a Registered Nurse.

A Bachelor’s degree takes about four years to finish and often requires an internship or hands-on work experience.

Once you gain employment as a Registered Nurse, you’ll need to work in the Labor and Delivery unit to gain experience.

After about one and a half to two years of experience, you can become certified as a Labor and Delivery Nurse.

So, it takes about 4-6 years to become a Labor and Delivery Nurse.

Q. What does a Labor and Delivery Nurse do?

There may be different roles for a Labor and Delivery Nurse depending on the patient.

Some women don’t want any help during their delivery process, and others want all the help they can get.

A Labor and Delivery Nurse is there to help women give birth to their babies.

They can do that by providing her with medication, checking the baby’s heartbeat, and monitoring the labor process.

Labor and Delivery Nurses also help during delivery and after delivery as well.

Q. Is there a demand for Labor and Delivery Nurses?

Nurses will likely always be needed, especially Labor and Delivery Nurses because people are born every day!

Along with all other nursing jobs, Labor and Delivery Nurse opportunities should rise around 12 percent over the next ten years.

That’s quite a bit faster than many other careers in the medical field.

If you are looking to gain a career as a Labor and Delivery Nurse, it is probably the best time to do so.

Q. How much does it cost to become a Labor and Delivery Nurse?

The average Bachelor’s degree in the United States costs about $25,000 to earn.

Some universities are a little more expensive, anywhere from $35,000 to $45,000.

There are community colleges and public universities that can cut down on cost, but not by much, at around $20,000.

The cost of your education depends on the type of university you attend, and how many years it takes you to complete the degree.

It costs anywhere from $20,000 to $50,000 to become a Labor and Delivery Nurse.

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