Labor and Delivery Nursing: Job Duties, Career Option & Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a labor and delivery nurse. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training, job duties and licensure to find out if this is the career for you.

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In order to become a labor and delivery nurse, you must complete a minimum of an associate's degree program and pass a national test for your registered nurse (RN) license. Labor and delivery nurses work in birthing centers and hospitals, and some go on to become instructors, advanced practice nurses or midwives.

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Essential Information

Labor and delivery nurses assist women before, during and after childbirth. They must have a registered nurse (RN) license in their state of practice. In order to obtain this license, individuals must complete an associate's degree in nursing at minimum, and also pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). Optional certification is available for labor and delivery nurses, and this certification may be preferred by some employers.

Required Education Associate's degree (at minimum)
Additional Requirements State nursing license; professional certification may be required by some employers
Projected Job Growth* (2014-2024) 16% for all registered nurses
Median Salary* (2015) $67,490 annually for all registered nurses

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Labor and Delivery Nurse Job Duties

In addition to assisting women throughout labor and the birthing process, labor and delivery nurses care for women who experience complications with their pregnancies and assist surgeons during cesarean deliveries. They also monitor both mother and child, provide postpartum care and educate new mothers about newborn care and post-delivery health issues.

Career Options for Labor and Delivery Nurses

Labor and delivery nurses typically work in the maternity department of a hospital, but they also might work in a freestanding birth center. They might have several career advancement options, including entering management, teaching or becoming nurse-midwives or nurse practitioners. Nurses who decide to pursue careers as instructors or advanced practice nurses need to earn at least a master's degree in nursing, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Requirements for Labor and Delivery Nurses

Aspiring labor and delivery nurses must complete an education program that satisfies the licensing requirements for RNs in the state in which they live. They might earn a diploma in nursing from a hospital-based program, complete an associate's degree program through a community college or vocational school or earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) through a college or university. Work experience requirements for labor and delivery nurses are set by individual employers. These nurses typically have some experience in general nursing prior to being hired to work on a maternity floor or in a birthing center.

Licensing

State nursing boards issue RN licenses. According to the BLS, licensees must, at minimum, complete an approved educational program and pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses. Individual states might impose additional licensure requirements, such as passing an exam on state laws pertaining to nursing and health care practice.

Specialized Education

A labor and delivery nurse may be required by his or her employer, as well as the licensing board, to complete continuing education courses on a regular basis. According to Nurses for a Healthier Tomorrow, a professional organization for nurses, a labor and delivery nurse also needs training in fetal monitoring and neonatal resuscitation.

Professional Certification

The National Certification Corporation offers certification in several areas applicable to labor and delivery nursing, including electronic fetal monitoring, inpatient obstetric nursing, low-risk neonatal nursing and maternal newborn nursing. Though these certifications are voluntary, some employers might require labor and delivery nurses to earn and maintain them.

Job Outlook and Salary Statistics for Labor and Delivery Nurses

Data from the BLS report a median salary of $67,490 for registered nurses, including labor and delivery nurses, in 2015. RNs employed in hospitals at that time earned a mean annual salary of $72,980. The BLS projects 16% job growth for registered nurses in all specialties during the 2014-2024 decade.

Labor and delivery nurses help women through the birthing process, assisting with complications, and caring for mothers and infants after deliveries. They must be registered nurses (RNs), having earned a degree and state license. Optional certification is available in this field and continuing education may be required. Demand for all registered nurses is strong, with job opportunities expected to grow by 16% through 2024.

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