How to Become an Obstetrician
Obstetrician Careers & Degrees

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Obstetricians are physicians who are experienced in treating pregnant female patients from the time of conception to shortly after giving birth.

These professionals are often grouped with Gynecologists, who also specialize in treating female patients, but not necessarily with individuals who are expecting a child.

Individuals who want to become an Obstetrician will have a passion in working with pregnant females and assuring a pregnancy and fetus are progressing normally.

Because Obstetricians are a surgery subspecialty, they are also knowledgeable in performing caesarean sections that assist in the delivery of newborn infants.

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Education Requirements to Become an Obstetrician

Like all licensed doctors and physicians, individuals who want to become an Obstetrician will need to pursue a similar educational route.

In addition, individuals pursuing this track will need to complete a residency to gain experience, take a licensing exam and be approved by their state board in order to enter this profession.

The first step individuals must take to become an Obstetrician is to complete a 4 year bachelor’s degree.

Individuals just beginning their bachelor’s program can opt to study a track that will help them succeed in medical school.

Such degrees include educational tracks in biology, pre-med, microbiology or a similar field.

Individuals who studied a different degree can still apply for medical school, but are encouraged to complete courses in English, biology, mathematics, chemistry, physics and social sciences.

Individuals who want to become an Obstetrician must then attend medical school to earn a designation as a physician.

Medical school typically takes up to an additional 4 years to complete.

The first two years of medical school include a focus in laboratory and classroom work to learn the foundations of human health including classes in: anatomy, biochemistry, psychology, pharmacology and medical ethics.

The last two years of medical school includes applying their medical knowledge by working with patients under the supervision of a licensed physician.

Medical students gain experience through rotations in a variety of specializations such as: internal medicine, pediatrics, surgery, psychiatry and family practice.

During these rotations, individuals will also have the opportunity to work in their specialization – obstetrics and gynecology.

After medical school, individuals will need experience in their specialization and will have the opportunity to do so by completing a residency program in obstetrics.

Residency programs will include more extensive training in treating pregnant females.

In order to practice on patients, individuals must also seek a license to practice in their state.

Requirements will vary by state.

Individuals will need to contact their state board to determine exact requirements.

Obstetrician Job Description

Obstetricians are physicians who are specialized in providing healthcare services to female patients who are pregnant.

They see patients through several stages of pregnancy to provide treatment and observe how pregnancies are progressing.

They will monitor patients to determine whether the patients is healthy or observe symptoms that may indicate a pregnancy related illness such as gestational diabetes.

For sick patients, they will order the tests needed to identify any illnesses and provide treatment to those showing positive results.

In addition, obstetricians will also observe how a fetus is progressing through the pregnancy and identify any possible issues.

Obstetricians will monitor and treat pregnant patients through the delivery and shortly after they give birth.

Obstetrician Salary and Career Path

In 2012, the median salary for Obstetricians and Gynecologists was approximately $301,737 per year.

Exact wages will depend on several things including the type of health care office an individual works in, whether an individual owns their own practice, years of experience, professional reputation and geographical location.

The job outlook for physicians and surgeons, which includes Obstetricians, is expected to grow rapidly in the next decade.

Job opportunities are expected to grow by 18 percent through the year 2022 which is considered a much faster growth when compared to other professions.

This growth is attributed to the extension of healthcare legislation extending medical coverage to a wider range of individuals.

Obstetricians are physicians who specialize in treating pregnant female patients.

They work individually with patients from the beginning stages of pregnancy all the way through the final stages which includes the birth and the treatment immediately following to the mother and infant.

Individuals pursuing this career can expect a high level of satisfaction and some of the highest wages amongst other professions.

The below information is based on the 2019 BLS national averages.
  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary


Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
District of Columbia$214,000
New Hampshire$252,720
New Jersey$275,680
New Mexico$258,380
New York$216,760
North Carolina$241,050
North Dakota$266,010
Rhode Island$264,550
South Carolina$266,840
South Dakota$268,690
Vermont- NA -
West Virginia$276,990

The top earning state in the field is Iowa, where the average salary is $283,280.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

Iowa - $283,280
West Virginia - $276,990
New Jersey - $275,680
Colorado - $274,680
Wisconsin - $274,410
* Salary information based on the May 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Obstetricians and Gynecologists, OCC Code 29-1218, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

QuestionWhat is an obstetrician?

An obstetrician is a physician who specializes in pregnancy, childbirth, and the female reproductive system.

They care for women during pregnancy, during childbirth, and after the baby is born.

Obstetricians are also trained and qualified to deliver babies.

Obstetricians treat a variety of conditions that can appear during pregnancy or childbirth, including fetal distress, placental abruption, uterine rupture, preeclampsia, and sepsis.

To be able to perform all the above tasks, obstetricians need rigorous medical training and a special set of personal skills, including compassion, patience, attention to detail, critical thinking and communication skills.

Some obstetricians choose to specialize in a particular field, such as maternal-fetal medicine (MFM).

MFM doctors are trained to care for pregnant women who experience abnormal health problems during pregnancy.

QuestionHow much does an obstetrician make?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the mean annual wage for gynecologists and obstetricians was $238,320 in May 2018.

Salaries in this field vary widely, depending on the obstetrician’s level of experience, education, the region, and the employer.

QuestionHow much does it cost to become an obstetrician?

Obstetricians, like all medical doctors, need a Doctor of Medicine degree and they must complete four years of residency.

Before enrolling at a medical school you must take some pre-medical coursework, with biology, chemistry, physics, math, and biochemistry classes, and you must take the Medical College Admission Test.

Most prospective physicians earn a bachelor’s degree with a major in biology, chemistry or a related field.

Pre-med programs can cost anywhere between $15,000-$60,000 and more per year, depending on the school you choose.

Medical school can cost you around $30,000-$50,000 a year a public school and more than $60,000-$70,000 at a private college.

QuestionWhat is the demand for obstetricians?

According to BLS, the demand for obstetricians and gynecologists is expected to grow 2 percent from 2018 to 2028.

The growth will be tempered by the fact that new technologies allow physicians to be more efficient and to care for more patients during the day, thus healthcare providers may hire fewer doctors.

However, obstetricians will still be needed to care for women during pregnancy and delivery and to help them stay healthy throughout their lives.

QuestionHow long does it take to become an obstetrician?

An obstetrician needs at least 12 years of training beyond high school.

High school graduates who want to become obstetricians should start by enrolling at an undergraduate pre-medical program, which usually can be completed in 4 years.

After graduating from college, the next step is to finish four years of medical school.

Medical school graduates have to participate in a 4-year residency and they must earn a state license before being allowed to practice as obstetricians.

Those who want to specialize even further will have to complete 1-2 years of fellowship.

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