What is a Chaplain

A chaplain performs religious rites, worship services and even provides confidential counseling. They devote their lives to advising others on religious, spiritual and moral topics. Sometimes they'll work for the military and other times they work for a hospital.

When it comes to becoming a chaplain, the more education you have the better. While most chaplains have a Master's degree, there are some positions that require a Doctoral level of education. It's definitely a dream job for people who like promoting peace and helping others.

There is more than meets the eye when it comes to being a Chaplain. For example, did you know that they make an average of $22.71 an hour? That's $47,235 a year!

What Does a Chaplain Do

When it comes to the most important skills required to be a Chaplain, we found that a lot of resumes listed 18.4% of Chaplains included Clinical Pastoral, while 17.3% of resumes included Spiritual Care, and 7.0% of resumes included Patient Care. Hard skills like these are helpful to have when it comes to performing essential job responsibilities.

Learn more about what a Chaplain does

How To Become a Chaplain

If you're interested in becoming a Chaplain, one of the first things to consider is how much education you need. We've determined that 47.9% of Chaplains have a bachelor's degree. In terms of higher education levels, we found that 36.1% of Chaplains have master's degrees. Even though most Chaplains have a college degree, it's possible to become one with only a high school degree or GED.

Choosing the right major is always an important step when researching how to become a Chaplain. When we researched the most common majors for a Chaplain, we found that they most commonly earn Bachelor's Degree degrees or Master's Degree degrees. Other degrees that we often see on Chaplain resumes include Associate Degree degrees or Doctoral Degree degrees.

You may find that experience in other jobs will help you become a Chaplain. In fact, many Chaplain jobs require experience in a role such as Internship. Meanwhile, many Chaplains also have previous career experience in roles such as Pastor or Senior Pastor.

What is the right job for my career path?

Tell us your goals and we'll match you with the right jobs to get there.

And if you’re looking for a job, here are the five top employers hiring now:

  1. VITAS Healthcare Jobs (45)
  2. Mayo Clinic Jobs (23)
  3. Grace Hospice Jobs (11)
  4. Compassus Jobs (12)
  5. SouthernCare Jobs (19)
Average Salary
$47,235
Average Salary
Job Openings
2,605
Job Openings
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Chaplain Career Paths

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Average Salary for a Chaplain

Chaplains in America make an average salary of $47,235 per year or $23 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $82,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $27,000 per year.
Average Salary
$47,235
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12 Chaplain Resume Examples

Learn How To Write a Chaplain Resume

At Zippia, we went through countless Chaplain resumes and compiled some information about how to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

View Chaplain Resume Examples And Templates

And if you’re looking for a job, here are the five top employers hiring now:

  1. VITAS Healthcare Jobs (45)
  2. Mayo Clinic Jobs (23)
  3. Grace Hospice Jobs (11)
  4. Compassus Jobs (12)
  5. SouthernCare Jobs (19)

Choose From 10+ Customizable Chaplain Resume templates

Zippia allows you to choose from different easy-to-use Chaplain templates, and provides you with expert advice. Using the templates, you can rest assured that the structure and format of your Chaplain resume is top notch. Choose a template with the colors, fonts & text sizes that are appropriate for your industry.

Chaplain Resume
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Chaplain Resume
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Chaplain Demographics

Chaplain Gender Statistics

male

68.3 %

female

31.7 %

Chaplain Ethnicity Statistics

White

72.9 %

Black or African American

10.6 %

Hispanic or Latino

8.4 %

Chaplain Foreign Languages Spoken Statistics

Spanish

57.5 %

French

9.6 %

German

4.8 %
Job Openings

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Chaplain Education

Chaplain Degrees

Bachelors

47.9 %

Masters

36.1 %

Associate

5.4 %

Top Colleges for Chaplains

1. Emory University

Atlanta, GA • Private

In-State Tuition
$51,306
Enrollment
6,975

2. Boston College

Chestnut Hill, MA • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,464
Enrollment
9,639

3. Loyola Marymount University

Los Angeles, CA • Private

In-State Tuition
$48,522
Enrollment
6,557

4. North Park University

Chicago, IL • Private

In-State Tuition
$29,860
Enrollment
1,967

5. Brescia University

Owensboro, KY • Private

In-State Tuition
$22,100
Enrollment
918

6. Saint Thomas University

Miami Gardens, FL • Private

In-State Tuition
$31,830
Enrollment
986

7. Fordham University

Bronx, NY • Private

In-State Tuition
$52,687
Enrollment
9,392

8. Duquesne University

Pittsburgh, PA • Private

In-State Tuition
$38,178
Enrollment
6,008

9. Southeastern University

Lakeland, FL • Private

In-State Tuition
$25,870
Enrollment
5,570

10. Gardner-Webb University

Boiling Springs, NC • Private

In-State Tuition
$32,000
Enrollment
2,010
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Online Courses For Chaplain That You May Like

Grief and Bereavement Counselling - ACCREDITED CERTIFICATE
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Learn Psychology of 'death' and 'dying', grief and bereavement related therapy, psychotherapy for depression...

Professional Counselling Grief & Bereavement Diploma Course
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Fully Accredited Counseling Diploma Course to help your clients or yourself though the many stages of Grief...

Customer Service, Customer Support, And Customer Experience
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4.4
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Customer service, customer support, and customer experience training. Loyal clients through world-class customer service...

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Internship
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Top Skills For a Chaplain

  • Clinical Pastoral, 18.4%
  • Spiritual Care, 17.3%
  • Patient Care, 7.0%
  • Chaplains, 6.4%
  • On-Call, 5.9%
  • Other Skills, 45.0%

Best States For a Chaplain

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a Chaplain. The best states for people in this position are Washington, California, Oregon, and Maine. Chaplains make the most in Washington with an average salary of $82,201. Whereas in California and Oregon, they would average $77,650 and $66,848, respectively. While Chaplains would only make an average of $63,774 in Maine, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. Maine

Total Chaplain Jobs:
25
Highest 10% Earn:
$111,000
Location Quotient:
2.8
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. Wyoming

Total Chaplain Jobs:
23
Highest 10% Earn:
$105,000
Location Quotient:
5.7
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. Idaho

Total Chaplain Jobs:
20
Highest 10% Earn:
$113,000
Location Quotient:
1.81
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
Full List Of Best States For Chaplains

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Top Chaplain Employers

Most Common Employers For Chaplain

RankCompanyZippia ScoreAverage Chaplain SalaryAverage Salary
1$71,969
2$68,484
3$67,139
4$66,160
5$66,140
6$65,164

Chaplain Videos

Becoming a Chaplain FAQs

Can you become a chaplain online?

Yes, you can become a chaplain online through online coursework. Although difficult to find, complete online bachelor's degrees in chaplaincy do exist.

Education requirements for chaplains will vary depending on the hiring organization. Some institutions require a candidate to have a bachelor's degree in divinity, while other organizations require a master's degree.

While few colleges offer complete degree programs online, many offer coursework relevant to someone considering a career as a chaplain.

There are select colleges and universities that do offer divinity-related degrees completely online. Grace Christian University offers a bachelor's degree in ministry leadership and a master's degree in ministry studies.

Liberty University offers a bachelor's degree in applied ministry and has numerous online master's degree offerings.

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Does a chaplain have to be religious?

Yes, a chaplain must be ordained in their recognized faith. While chaplains belong to a specific religious faith, they can serve all members of a community.

A chaplain is an ordained and certified faith-based counselor. While a chaplain identifies with a specific faith, those he serves need not be religiously affiliated. Hospitals, prisons, universities, and the military all employ chaplains.

The role of the chaplain is to support individuals and their families through faith-based techniques such as scripture or through counseling.

Those seeking the help of a chaplain may subscribe to a religion other than that practiced by the chaplain or have no affiliation at all. The role of the chaplain is to listen and provide support for anyone seeking those services.

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How do you become a certified chaplain?

Becoming a certified chaplain is a lengthy process involving both educational and work-related requirements. Once these requirements have been met, candidates are able to apply for certification.

The educational requirements for someone applying for chaplain certification involve a master's degree in a relevant theological or psychological field of study as well as graduate-level coursework in clinical pastoral education.

Candidates seeking certification are also required to have logged a standard number of work experience hours. Applicants are required to submit proof of 2,000 hours of relevant work experience. In addition to work experience, chaplain candidates will need to submit the endorsement of their recognized faith group.

When these criteria have been met, candidates are ready to submit their applications. The review process can be as short as six months or last as long as one year. Candidates willing to travel to a certification committee meeting tend to see quicker results.

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How many years does it take to become a chaplain?

It will take someone six to eight years to become a chaplain. The process of becoming a chaplain is lengthy and involves both educational and work experience requirements.

Chaplain candidates typically hold a master's degree in a relevant theological or psychological field of study. It is important that these degrees are obtained at recognized and approved learning institutions. The educational requirements for someone seeking chaplain certification is a minimum of 72 semester hours.

Work experience requirements vary depending on the various faith groups. Some groups will require relevant work-related experience, while others may grant candidates an internship in place of experience. Certificate-seeking candidates will need 2,000 hours of work-related experience and an endorsement from their faith group.

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What's the difference between a pastor and a chaplain?

The difference between a pastor and a chaplain has to do primarily with the people that they serve. Pastors and chaplains serve two different segments of the population. In addition, some of the requirements to work in this field can vary significantly.

Candidates aspiring to become a pastor are typically required to obtain a master of divinity degree after securing their bachelor's degree in a relevant theological field of study. Chaplain candidates are also required to obtain similar educational degrees.

Post-degree training will differ because their jobs address different populations. For example, pastors serve a specific congregation, while chaplains serve the needs of a changing population.

A pastor will tend to serve a community in a specific geographic location, while a chaplain will work through a branch of industry and therefore see an ever-changing population. Chaplains are employed by hospitals, prisons, mental health institutions, and the military.

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