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What is the best training for becoming a hirable chaplain? What types of ongoing training or certifications are necessary to be an effective chaplain?

What do non-traditional career paths look like?

Gregory A. Perry, BCC

92 months ago

Board Certification by one of the national certifying organizations is the standard. It reflects the trainings incumbent for being a hirable chaplain.

Jeff in Bothell, Washington

92 months ago

What about education. What is the best degree to get to become a chaplain? do you need a psychology degree, an mfcc?

Chaplain Virginia in Sacramento, California

85 months ago

To be professional chaplain, one must be oard Certified by a recognizable national certifying agency(two main groups: or 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.

Mary Burks-Price in Louisville, Kentucky

84 months ago

Host said: What is the best training for becoming a hirable chaplain? What types of ongoing training or certifications are necessary to be an effective chaplain?

What do non-traditional career paths look like?

Virginai Carreiro gave a great answer and I would also refer you to The Association for Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE) is the organization that provides the training necesary to be board certified as a chaplain. There are ACPE training centers throughout the United States.

Jackie in Schaumburg, Illinois

83 months ago

What about if one is finishing their year of residency and is not yet certified but eligible? I am in this situation now. What are some next steps for me to take to find a job? Is a second year of residency necessary?

mwstalnaker in Greensboro, North Carolina

2 months ago

I realize this is an older thread, but I hope my reply will serve those who are wondering about these questions in the future.
Jackie, to speak to your question: Many new chaplains are hired out of residency as "board eligible." In order to go before the APC (Association of Professional Chaplains) committee for board certification, one needs 1200 hours (one year) of clinical practice post-residency. Other certifying bodies may differ - however, APC is one of he largest and most widely recognized. While many choose to do a second-year residency in order to gain these hours, sharpen their reflection on clinical practice, and work through the board certification process with the support of a CPE supervisor and peer group, it is not necessary. If you're able to get into a position without the second year residency, go for it. Especially if you find yourself in a department with colleagues that will support you in the certification process.
Most hiring committees are looking for similar things in board certified and board eligible chaplains - the BCC part may be a standard placed on a job description by HR, who may not actually know what is required to become board certified. If you have questions, contact the director of the department and express your interests and concerns along with your plan for moving through board certification. It's amazing how helpful these conversations can be in boosting your recognition in a large applicant pool.
To speak to the other questions, Virginia's response is accurate. Chaplaincy generally requires a masters-level theological degree in a person's faith tradition. The equivalent of a Master of Divinity. Students then complete an internship in CPE and move into a year-long residency.
As one is looking into internships and residencies, do some research on the difference between ACPE and other pastoral education bodies. Often, internships from some bodies may not be eligible for application to ACPE residencies.

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