To be professional chaplain, one must be oard Certified by a recognizable national certifying agency(two main groups: ww.nacc.org or www.professionalchaplains.org. Certification requires an advanced degree in pastoral ministry, theology, divinity. Chaplains do not need to become psychologists,social worker, or any other health care professional. Although chaplains work on the interdisciplinary health care team and must have extensive knowledge about various health care professions, they are NOT the same as social workers, discharge planners, or psychologists. They are specialists in the spirituality of health care. A good undergraduate degree might be in any of the human services. A professional chaplain is not the same as a retired minister, or a pastor of a congregation. She needs the required Clinical Pastoral Education for board certification. Without these credentials, one might want to become a VOLUNTEER chaplain assistant, or a friendly visitor. Chaplains are serious about being an integral part of the health care team, and this requires professional standards! It's important to understand that health care chaplains work for a designated hospital or health care system, and not for a church.
Peace and all goodness,
Virginia Carreiro, M.A. Pastoral Ministry, B.C.C., N.A.C.C.