Doula Income Series – Putting it All Together
This is our third and final post as part of our series on Doula Income. You can click here to read part one and two. Today we are tying together all of the factors we researched and looking at things like annual salary, yearly bonuses, and take-home pay. Our hope is that you’ve found this series helpful as you think about your own doula career and what path to follow.
A quick reminder of our methodology, we reached out to one doula from each of the three primary career paths 1) agency employee 2) contractor doula (worked mostly with agencies) 3) independent doula (worked mostly for themselves) and had them provide information on their income, hourly wage, pension contributions…etc. Using this information, we’re able to compare the pros and cons of each path. Keep in mind that this is only a sample of three different doulas. Long-term, we’d love to complete similar surveys with a larger set of doulas!
All financial figures shown are in Canadian dollars ($).
Year End Bonus
Some birth companies will provide a year-end bonus to employees depending on how successful the business was that year. This often ranges from 3-15% of an individual’s salary and varies across different industries. Looking at our three doulas, we see the agency employee received a bonus of $1500, while there was no bonus for the contractor or independent birth worker. This is not surprising, as the contractor is not an employee at one specific agency, and the independent doula would have no reason to save a bonus payment until the end of the year.
Throughout the year there can sometimes be bonuses for a variety of things. Such as, hitting a specific milestone, taking on extra clients…etc. Here we see that agency doula received over $1200 in additional bonuses. Digging a bit deeper and chatting with this doula, we know the bonuses included a refund for additional training, insurance premiums, and a special initiative at her agency.
What’s interesting with the annual salaries is we note the employee doula and contractor both having nearly identical salaries, at $56,400 and $56,000. Which means the key differentiator from an income perspective will be what needs to be deducted, resulting in their actual take home pay. We tackle that in a moment. For the independent doula, we see a salary of $14,060. It’s significantly less than the other two doulas reported, however this doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. For some doulas this work is intended as a side hustle, or as a part-time position, so you don’t always have to try and bring home a full-time salary. The key is to ensure your life and financial goals align with the steps you’re taking in your birth business.
Average Take Home Pay
This is the section you’ve been waiting for, how does all this net out in the final take home pay. For the three doulas we spoke to, the agency employee had the largest take home pay, at $46,758.2. Followed by the contractor doula at $40,173 and the independent doula at $11,643.46. The key difference between the contractor and agency employee comes down to the smaller things we don’t always consider, like bonuses, paid vacation, insurance, admin costs, and sales and marketing. These smaller costs can sometimes add up and impact your yearly earnings.
For many people making the MOST money is not their goal. Maybe they want the flexibility of taking clients when and how they want, taking summers off for example. But if your motivation is COLD HARD CASH then in this comparison it sure looks like work as an employee is the way to go!
Selecting the right path for you will likely depend on many factors impacting your life, not just income. You may be looking for the flexibility to take on more or less clients that an independent doula provides. You may enjoy the stability of working with a doula agency and having a steady stream of clients. As a contractor, you might like being able to work for multiple agencies while still managing your own independent clients. Whatever route you decide to travel, we hope this series on doula income has helped you make a more informed decision. If you have further questions, you can always reach our team at firstname.lastname@example.org