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Best online doula certification programs in 2022

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A doula can play an integral role in a woman’s birth journey, advocating for her needs throughout the pregnancy and acting as a liaison between the mother and medical professionals. 

To gain the skills you need to be a doula, it’s best to get certified through a credible organization. Getting certified can help you gain valuable skills, make you more desirable to clients, and could even land you higher pay. 

There are many online doula certification programs out there to help you get started on this career path. 

Here's what you need to know:

What qualifications do I need to be a doula?

If you’re passionate about birth, babies, and supporting mothers and families, then becoming a doula could be the right career move for you. 

While you don’t need a degree or state license to be a doula, many doulas decide to become certified through an organization like Doulas of North America (DONA) International or the International Doula Institute (IDI). 

Certification programs can help you learn valuable skills, become a more desirable job candidate, and earn you more money. 

Most online doula certification programs don’t have any professional prerequisites, but you’ll have to satisfy certain requirements to receive your certification. That may include reading course material, writing papers, taking tests, and attending live births.  

How much does a doula make?

Your salary as a doula will depend on where you live, whether you decide to work full-time or part-time, and what kind of certification you hold. 

Most full-time doulas average four births per month and charge flat fees ranging anywhere from $500 to $2,500 per birth depending on their location and experience. 

According to Ziprecruiter, birth doulas in the United States have an earning potential up to $88,000, with a national average salary of $44,333. Assuming this number is based on four births per month, that works out to $925 per birth on average.

Holding a doula certification may also bump up your salary. According to DONA International, their doulas make 25% more than non-certified doulas and 7% more than doulas with certifications from other organizations.

Can you receive an online doula certification?

There are a number of reputable organizations offering online doula certification. Here’s how to become a doula online. 

How long does it take to become a doula? Can I get my doula certification online fast?

How long it takes to become a doula depends on which online doula certification you choose. Most programs can be completed within three to six months, though some take less time. ExpertRating’s online doula certification takes as little as two weeks to complete, and you can print out your certification as soon as you pass the exam at the end of the course. 

How much does doula training online cost?

Doula certification costs vary widely depending on the program. Costs range from as little as $100 for a basic online certification course on becoming a doula, all the way up to $1,100 for a more comprehensive online certification course from DONA International, a leading doula training organization. 

Is there a free online doula certification program?

You’ll have to pay tuition for most online doula training. However, some organizations offer complimentary introductory courses or scholarships. 

IDI, for example, has a free intro course you can access when you sign up for their mailing list. 

DONA International also has a limited number of fee waivers for people who need financial assistance. You can apply for a scholarship directly through their website. 

Doula training online

Here’s a look at the most popular online doula certification programs and what to expect from each one. 

DONA International online training program

DONA International is one of the leading organizations for doula training, certification, and continued education. They’ve been around for over 25 years and have certified more than 13,000 doulas across the globe. 

DONA online training program costs

DONA International’s online doula certification program costs between $700 and $1,100. This includes: 

  • $100 fee to become a DONA International member 
  • $45 fee to purchase the DONA International Birth Doula Certification Packet
  • $110 certification processing fee
  • $75 fee to buy the required books 
  • $20 fee to attend a required doula business webinar
  • $400 to $700 fee to attend a required DONA-approved birth doula workshop 

Pros of the DONA online program

DONA’s online doula training is incredibly comprehensive. It covers all aspects of doula care and includes training on breastfeeding, basic childbirth education, client support, networking, and business practices. You’ll also get hands-on experience assisting a few clients during childbirth as part of your training. 

Another benefit is that the program is self-paced. After attending one of their in-person birth doula workshops, you’ll have four years to finish the rest of the program. 

Plus, as a member of DONA International, you’ll get discounts on continuing education, access to mentoring and professional networking, and a subscription to DONA’s quarterly trade publication. 

Cons of the DONA online program

DONA’s online program actually has an in-person component, which may not be a good fit for everyone. 

You’ll need to attend an in-person course about the basics of childbirth that may be 12 or more hours in total and attend an in-person workshop that goes for 16 to 24 hours over the course of two or three days. Additionally, you’ll need to provide primary doula care for three clients, for a total of at least 15 hours and provide documentation of the experiences.  

Because the program is so robust, it’s a big time commitment. That means you may not be able to get your doula certification quickly. (Most of the program is self-study, so how long it takes to complete depends on your schedule and how fast you can get through the material.)

DONA’s online program may be expensive for some. It costs between $700 and $1,100. You’ll also need to maintain annual DONA membership, which costs $100 per year, and pay a fee of $80 every three years to renew your certification. 

ExpertRating

ExpertRating is an ISO-certified certification and testing business that offers online certifications in over 800 different skill areas, including doula care. 

The ExpertRating Doula Certification costs $99.99 and covers the basics of being a doula. During this online course, you’ll learn about the birthing process, how to provide emotional and physical support to mothers during pregnancy and birth, and what’s involved with prenatal and postpartum doula care. 

It takes two to four weeks to complete and includes an exam after you finish the coursework. You can renew your certification for $30 after one year. 

Learn how to support expectant mothers with a certification from ExpertRating >>

International Doula Institute

IDI is a comprehensive doula training organization. IDI’s Birth Doula Certification Program costs $790. You’ll receive a discount of $150 if you’ve already been certified by another organization. 

You also have the option of signing up for a package that includes multiple online certification programs. IDI’s other certifications include postpartum doula, childbirth educator, breastfeeding counselor, advanced lactation and counseling, and perinatal nutrition. Tuition costs $4,740 for all six certification programs. 

IDI’s certification programs are done completely online and are self-study so you can go at your own pace. You have a full year to complete a program after signing up. 

The birth doula course includes daily and weekly lesson plans taught by doulas, doctors, nurses, midwives, and dietitians. You’ll need to complete assignments, tests, quizzes, and projects throughout the program and pass an exam at the end. 

Tuition also gives you access to a doula trainer via phone or email for one year, membership in a private Facebook support group, doula mentorship, an online doula workshop, and the certification exam. 

IDI says most people complete their online doula certification program in six to 12 weeks, working about an hour a day. 

Certification is valid for three years. To renew, you’ll need to pay $100, complete three continuing education classes, and submit three surveys from clients you’ve worked with. 

Postpartum Care Foundation online training program

Postpartum Care Foundation’s online training program costs $333. Tuition covers access to lessons in the program, including postpartum nutrition and lactation support. 

PCF offers two other options. For $527, you can take the online postpartum doula certification course and get a starter herb kit that includes postpartum teas, baths, and a belly binding. 

For $977, you can take the course, get the starter herb kit, and receive three one-hour career support sessions with Zoe Weston, an international leader in women’s health. 

Textbooks and other required reading materials aren’t included in the tuition cost.

Pros of the Postpartum Care Foundation online program

Postpartum Care Foundation’s online program includes comprehensive training for becoming a postpartum doula at a lower cost than other comparable programs. (DONA International’s postpartum doula training certification is more than double the cost, for example.)

Postpartum Care Foundation’s online program includes an introduction to the postpartum period and lessons on postpartum nutrition, belly binding, emotional support, lactation support, and baby bonding. You’ll also get in-person experience working with three postpartum clients as part of earning your certification. 

Another benefit is that this program is self-paced so you can complete it on your own time from anywhere in the world. 

Cons of the Postpartum Care Foundation online program

While the tuition for Postpartum Care Foundation’s online program is affordable, one downside is it doesn’t cover everything. 

The required reading materials for the course aren’t included in the cost, so you’ll need to factor that in when you sign up. Expect to spend between $50 and $75 on books. 

You may also need to buy supplies to work with clients during the program since these aren’t covered by the tuition either. Supplies include things like crates to transport your healing tools, mason jars for teas and broths, and small bowls for herbs and oils. 

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What qualifications do I need to be a doula?

While you don’t need a degree or state license to be a doula, many doulas decide to become certified through an organization like Doulas of North America (DONA) International or the International Doula Institute (IDI). Certification programs can help you learn valuable skills, become a more desirable job candidate, and earn you more money. 

How much does a doula make?

Most full-time doulas average four births per month and charge flat fees ranging anywhere from $500 to $2,500 per birth depending on their location and experience.

Can you receive an online doula certification?

There are a number of reputable organizations offering online doula certification.

How long does it take to become a doula?

How long it takes to become a doula depends on which online doula certification you choose. Most programs can be completed within three to six months, though some take less time.

How much does doula training online cost?

Doula certification costs vary widely depending on the program. Costs range from as little as $100 for a basic online certification course on becoming a doula, all the way up to $1,100 for a more comprehensive online certification course from DONA International, a leading doula training organization.

Christina Heiser is a New York City-based content marketer and freelance writer. She covers beauty, health, nutrition, fitness, and parenting for a variety of online and print publications. Her work regularly appears on websites including NBC News and A Sweat Life. Over her decade-long career, she's also held editorial positions at Everyday Health and Women's Health. When she's not working, you can find Christina checking out the latest boutique fitness classes, attempting to master gluten-free cooking, and watching reality TV.

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