A chaplain is a faith counselor who represents a religious faith and performs religious ceremonies. Chaplains work at hospitals, prisons, schools, colleges, military units, and other institutions. While most chaplains belong to Abrahamic religions (Islam, Judaism, Christianity), the rest are Hindus, Buddhists, or followers of other known faiths.
Acquiring the position of chaplain in just 30 days is no less than a challenge. To obtain professional certification of being a chaplain, you need to have a degree in theology, divinity, counseling, or pastoral experience. Another important thing is to get endorsed ecclesiastically by a religious leader of your faith.
In case you cannot fulfill these criteria, you can start your career from the position of an assistant in chaplaincy. Given below is an explanation of different routes for a career in chaplaincy:
Enumerate your Qualifications and Experience
Before applying to the post of a chaplain or related profile, you need to get a detailed recommendation letter from a pastor, rabbi, imam, or a religious reader of your congregation. Besides, you have to write a 1-2-page long resume, highlighting your academics and experiences in religious traditions like pastoral, teaching, counseling, ordination, etc.
Apply for the Chaplain Position
Depending upon your qualifications and preferences, you can apply in the following ways:
- If you hold a degree in divinity or theology and related work experience, you may submit your application to the American Board of Certified Chaplains at their website accreditboard.org. Here, you will need to provide information regarding your qualifications and experience. The board evaluates your credentials and accordingly approves you for advanced or basic level certification. The membership of this board will boost your profile and improve your chances of career advancements.
- In case you happen to be a student of a seminary degree program related to divinity or theology, you may opt for the US Army CCP (Chaplain Candidate Program). In this program, you will be given training at several army bases and installation sites in Europe and the US. Alternatively, you may pursue the Hartford seminary’s Islamic Chaplaincy Program in Connecticut, US.
- Likewise, if you want to become a chaplain in the army, you have to contact a recruiter of the US Army’s Chaplain Corps. The required contact details can be found under the ‘locate a recruiter’ option present on the website of the US Army, goarmy.com. Further, if you want to enroll in the Chaplain Corps of the US Air Force, you can submit your application at usafhc.af.mil as per the site’s instructions. Similarly, for getting enlisted in the Chaplain Corps of the US Navy, you can apply at chaplaincare.navy.mil.
- Apart from the military’s chaplain positions, you may look for opportunities at websites and religious newspapers that display the vacant posts for chaplains, pastors, faith-based school teachers, and related profiles.
How to become a hospital chaplain?
In the first step, the hospital chaplain needs to get a religious degree and then seek certification. This ensures a standard of proficiency. The largest chaplain certification organization in the United States is the Association of Professional Chaplains. The average annual salary for hospital chaplains in the US is around $50K.
How to become a chaplain in the army?
So, how to become a military chaplain? In the first step, a person should not be older than 42 by the date they commission into the Army. Then chaplain needs to have a Master of Divinity degree as basic theological education. If you want to have an active duty in the army, then a chaplain needs to have at least two years of post-theological education professional experience in their denomination or faith tradition. The last requirement is that person has a minimum of two years in a full-time professional capacity as a member of a denomination or faith group.