Today we can see a lot of unusual careers that a few people are ready to take. In this article, we will analyze one of them.
What is a chaplain?
A chaplain is a faith counselor representing a religious faith and performing 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 chaplain position in just 30 days is no less than a challenge. To obtain professional certification as a chaplain, you must have a theology, divinity, counseling, or pastoral experience degree. Another important thing is to get endorsed ecclesiastically by a religious leader of your faith.
Becoming a chaplain typically requires significant education, training, and commitment to religious or spiritual traditions.
However, if you are interested in exploring chaplaincy as a career or volunteer opportunity, there are steps you can take in 30 days to begin the process. Here are some suggestions:
- Research chaplaincy: Learn about the various types of chaplaincy, including hospital, military, and prison chaplaincy. Research the requirements for becoming a chaplain, including education and training, certification, and any necessary background checks.
- Identify your spiritual tradition: Chaplains typically come from a particular religious or spiritual practice. Identify your spiritual tradition and research the requirements for chaplaincy within that tradition.
- Consider education and training: Many chaplains have a graduate degree in theology or a related field. Research educational programs that would prepare you for chaplaincy, and consider enrolling in a program if possible.
- Seek volunteer opportunities: Many hospitals, hospices, and other organizations have volunteer chaplaincy programs. Look for opportunities to serve as a volunteer chaplain and gain experience working with needy people.
- Connect with a mentor: Seek out a chaplain or spiritual leader who can serve as a mentor and guide you in your journey toward chaplaincy. Ask for advice, feedback, and support as you explore this path.
Many excellent books can help someone interested in becoming a chaplain. Here are a few suggestions:
- “The Art of Presence” by Holly J. Hughes – This book explores the role of chaplains in hospitals, hospices, and other healthcare settings and guides on developing the skills necessary to be an effective chaplain.
- “The Spiritual Caregiver’s Handbook” by Joel C. Hunter and Harold G. Koenig – This book provides practical guidance for chaplains on spiritual care to people of all faiths and backgrounds.
- “The Practice of Spiritual Direction” by William A. Barry and William J. Connolly – While not explicitly focused on chaplaincy, this book provides valuable insights into the practice of spiritual direction, which is an essential skill for many chaplains.
- “The Handbook of Spiritual Care in Mental Health” edited by John Swinton and David L. Swanson – This book guides chaplains working in mental health settings, including practical tips for providing spiritual care to people with mental health challenges.
- “The Military Chaplain’s Handbook” by David W. Peters guides chaplains working in the military, including an overview of military culture and practical tips for providing spiritual care to service members.
These books are just a few examples of the many resources available for those interested in becoming a chaplain. It’s important to remember that while books can be helpful, they should be combined with formal education, training, and experience to become a skilled and effective chaplain.
Remember that chaplaincy is a significant and rewarding career but requires considerable education, training, and experience. While you may become a qualified chaplain in 30 days, these steps may not be possible to help you begin exploring this path and working towards your goals.
If you cannot fulfill these criteria, you can start your career as an assistant in chaplaincy. Given below is an explanation of different routes for a career in chaplaincy:
Chaplain Qualifications and Experience
Before applying to the chaplain or related profile post, you must get a detailed recommendation letter from your congregation’s pastor, rabbi, imam, or religious reader. Besides, you must write a 1-2-page 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. Then, the board evaluates your credentials and approves you for advanced or basic-level certification. Membership of this board will boost your profile and improve your chances of career advancement.
- 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, to become a chaplain in the army, you must contact a US Army’s Chaplain Corps recruiter. The required contact details are under the ‘locate a recruiter’ option on the US Army website, goarmy.com. Further, if you want to enroll in the US Air Force Chaplain Corps, you can submit your application at usafhc.af.mil per the site’s instructions. Similarly, to enlist 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 displaying vacant posts for chaplains, pastors, faith-based school teachers, and related profiles.
How to become a hospital chaplain?
- Obtain a bachelor’s degree: While a specific major is not always required, many chaplaincy programs prefer candidates with a bachelor’s degree. Consider studying fields such as theology, religious studies, or counseling.
- Obtain a master’s degree: Many hospitals require chaplains to have a master’s degree in divinity, theology, or a related field. Look for programs accredited by the Association of Theological Schools or another reputable accrediting body.
- Gain experience: Most hospital chaplaincy positions require some previous experience working in ministry or pastoral care. Consider volunteering at a local hospital, hospice, or another healthcare facility to gain experience.
- Complete a chaplaincy training program: Many hospitals require chaplains to complete a clinical pastoral education (CPE) program, which typically lasts one year and includes classroom learning and supervised clinical practice.
- Obtain certification: While not always required, certification can demonstrate your competency as a chaplain and may be preferred by some hospitals. Look for certification programs such as those offered by the Association of Professional Chaplains or the National Association of Catholic Chaplains.
- Apply for chaplaincy positions: Once you have completed your education, training, and certification, apply to positions at hospitals and other healthcare facilities. Network with chaplains and other healthcare professionals in your area to learn about job opportunities and gain insights into the field.
In the first step, the hospital chaplain must get a religious degree and then seek certification. This ensures a standard of proficiency. The Association of Professional Chaplains is the largest chaplain certification organization in the United States. The average annual salary for hospital chaplains in the US is around $50K.
How to become a chaplain in the army?
- Meet the eligibility requirements: To become an army chaplain, you must be a U.S. citizen, have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, graduate in theology or a related field, and be endorsed by your religious organization.
- Join the army: Once you have met the eligibility requirements, you must join the military. You can do this by enlisting as an enlisted soldier or applying to become an officer through the Army’s Officer Candidate School (OCS).
- Attend the Chaplain Basic Officer Leader Course: After completing basic and advanced individual training, you will attend the Chaplain Basic Officer Leader Course (CH-BOLC), which lasts 12 weeks. This course provides training in military leadership, ethics, and counseling.
- Obtain endorsement and certification: As an army chaplain, you must be endorsed by your religious organization and obtain certification through a professional chaplaincy organization such as the National Conference on Ministry to the Armed Forces.
- Serve as an army chaplain: Once you have completed the CH-BOLC and obtained endorsement and certification, you will serve as an army chaplain, providing spiritual support and counseling to soldiers and their families.
So, how to become a military chaplain? First, people should not be older than 42 by the date they commission into the Army. Then the chaplain needs a Master of Divinity degree as primary theological education. Next, suppose you want to have active duty in the army. In that case, a chaplain needs at least two years of post-theological education and 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.