Labor and Delivery Nurse Salary and Career Opportunities
Written By: Vonda J. Sines
Labor and delivery (L&D) nurses work in a specialty that’s unusual because it involves care to women and infants during four stages: pregnancy, delivery, post-partum, and neonatal. These professionals might assume a number of different roles, even serving as a circulating nurse or a scrub nurse. Most of them work in hospital L&D units, birthing centers, clinics, maternity centers, or physician offices. Their workday is structured but fast-paced, with considerable patient interaction.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics , the projection for the growth of all types of RN positions will be 19 percent between 2012 and 2022. Demand for L&D nurses should be even greater. The median pay for RNs in 2012 was $65,470 a year, or $31.48 an hour. PayScale reports that L&D nurses earn up to $38.62 per hour during a regular shift or as much as $60.57 an hour for overtime. With bonuses, total annual compensation could reach $83,171.
Paths to Increase Salary
L&D nurses are registered nurses (RNs). They have earned a nursing diploma, an associate’s degree in nursing, or a bachelor’s degree in nursing and have passed the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) to be eligible to work, according to Johnson & Johnson .
One path to increasing compensation is to obtain the Inpatient Obstetric Nursing (RNC-OB) credential by passing the National Certification Corporation exam. Candidates must have 24 hours’ specialty experience. Nurses for a Healthier Tomorrow indicates that L&D nurses can also further specialize in high-risk obstetrics to boost their annual earnings. Some opt to become midwives and open their own practices.
According to Villanova University , L&D nurses can also advance in their careers by getting a master’s degree in nursing and becoming a nurse practitioner in obstetrics and gynecology. Additional compensation also accompanies charge nurse or nurse manager responsibilities. L&D professionals with a master’s degree or a doctorate in nursing might opt to become educators. Most employers provide financial assistance for training at the graduate level.
When additional formal education is not a nurse's preference, one additional path to increase salary is to work as a per diem or travel nurse. Relocation and housing expense assistance is often available from employers.
Professionals who are labor and delivery nurses might find these related specialties attractive:
- Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) nurses care for infants born prematurely or full-term babies with serious medical issues. They also provide education, support, and care for the infants’ parents. Most NICU nurses are RNs who have completed additional training provided by their employers before moving into this specialty. Employers are looking for NICU nurses now.
- Pediatric nurses care for youngsters who might be infants or even in their late teens. They perform physical exams, take urine and blood samples, arrange for diagnostic tests, and measure vital statistics. Their workplace might be a physician’s office, a clinic, or a hospital. Some work as school nurses. See where pediatric nurses are needed most.
- Nursing consultants work for hospitals, corporate employers, or public health departments. Many own their own practices. Typical roles are as a lactation consultant or a perinatal educator. Find open nurse consultant positions now.
Further Your Career
In labor and delivery nursing, there is no such thing as a typical shift. Working is this specialty is demanding yet exciting and rewarding. Choosing this option brings considerable opportunities to advance in a nursing career. L&D nurses can easily move to a related specialty or a subspecialty. Add to this mix a steady demand for these professionals. There couldn’t be a better time to become a labor and delivery nurse.
Vonda J. Sines is a freelance writer based in the Washington, DC area. She specializes in health/medical, career, and pet topics and writes extensively about Crohn's disease. Her work has been published at EverydayHealth, Lifescript, womansday.com, Yahoo! Health, Catholic Digest, Angie's List Health, and on many more sites.