How to Be a Licensed Chaplain

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According to Chaplain David B. Plummer, chaplains are different from pastors or ministers because they do not serve in a church. Rather, they serve as spiritual guides in the community that they are a part of. Working as a chaplain can be a rewarding experience for those who want to share their faith with others and help them as they attempt to make decisions and understand life's events. However, there are many different kinds of chaplains and chaplains licenses. To become a licensed chaplain, you must first understand what kind of chaplain you want to be and what kind of license you need.

Research different types of chaplaincies, their duties and their requirements. Plummer lists five industries in which chaplains work: military, corrections, health care, business and education. Find chaplains serving in each of these industries if you are not sure which one interests you. Ask them to discuss their duties and the challenges/rewards of the job, being sure to honor the confidentiality they have with those they serve. Once you know which industry you wish to enter, view job descriptions for chaplain openings or ask human resource officials which licenses you will need to obtain.

Review the certification requirements of the certificate you wish to obtain. For example, the Association of Professional Chaplains, which many industries rely upon to certify chaplains from all faith groups, has educational, experience and references requirements. Contact the certifying body if you are uncertain of any requirements.

Obtain the requisite education and experience. In most cases, you will need at least a bachelor's degree along with post-graduate work in religion and theology. Talk with your spiritual advisor for religious education recommendations. Check for college accreditation requirements and experience stipulations with the chaplaincy certification body that grants the license you hope to receive.

Apply for your license. Read the license application carefully and request assistance from the certifying body, if necessary. Double-check to ensure you have completed all the requirements, and submit your application. Some organizations, like the Association for Professional Chaplains, will require an interview.

Tips

  • Volunteer as a lay minister or chaplain before completing the chaplaincy requirements as chaplaincy requirements are stringent, and it will be frustrating if you complete them only to find you do not enjoy this type of work.

Warnings

  • Some websites will offer chaplaincy certification or ordination online. Be wary of these sites if you wish to practice professionally, as the certifications they provide are often for those who wish for a certification for personal reasons, and they are not usually accepted in professional situations.

References

About the Author

Miranda Morley is an educator, business consultant and owner of a copywriting/social-media management company. Her work has been featured in the "Boston Literary Magazine," "Subversify Magazine" and "American Builder's Quarterly." Morley has a B.A. in English, political science and international relations. She is completing her M.A. in rhetoric and composition from Purdue University Calumet.

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