How to Become a Chaplain Online

Dec 13, 2019

Chaplains provide spiritual support and comfort to individuals in hospitals or in hospice care. Learn more about the chaplain career and the steps you can take to become a chaplain with the help of online resources.

Chaplain Career Overview

Chaplains help suffering people or those undergoing end-of-life care to deal with the emotional, spiritual, and psychological stresses involved. Chaplains work with patients, families, and loved ones to help them meet their needs and goals while going through such a difficult time, as well as suggesting appropriate proactive strategies for coping. Chaplains typically work at hospitals or with hospice organizations. Some online options are available for education requirements but much of the training preferred by employers must be done in-person.

Required Skills Compassion, Communication Skills, Patience
Job Growth 6% for 2018-2028 (for all clergy)*
Median Salary (2018) $48,990 (for all clergy)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Steps for Becoming a Chaplain Online

Employers tend to require you to have completed at least a bachelor's degree, although a master's degree is often a common requirement, and training is typically a major component. Since training requires in-person work, online preparation can be difficult; however, all of the other steps can be completed online.

Step 1. Earn a Bachelor's Degree

A very common base requirement for this career is a bachelor's degree in a field related to the knowledge and skills you will need to employ while working as a chaplain. There are bachelor's degree programs that you can complete entirely online. Degrees in programs such as biblical studies or theology are typically preferred and can help you build a base of knowledge in scriptural understanding and interpretation, which will be needed in your career. Bachelor's degrees usually take around four years to complete for full-time students.

Step 2. Complete a Master's Degree

A master's degree can be required by many employers and organizations looking to hire chaplains. Master's degrees in fields related to this profession can be found completely online at many seminaries. Programs such as a Master of Arts in Religion, a Master of Biblical and Theological Studies, or a Master of Arts in Christian leadership, or a Master of Divinity. These programs will not only help you qualify for positions that require you to have a master's degree but can also teach you the skills in counseling, theology and ministry you need to fulfill the requirements of the job. The time it takes to complete a master's degree depends largely on the degree itself, the specific program you choose, and your pace of study, but typically take around two years.

Step 3. Consider Training

Training is another option for those looking to become chaplains. While not always required, training can be preferred by many employers, and, even when neither required nor preferred, can help you possess the general competencies needed to work in this field, making you a better candidate for employment in general. Training in Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) is the commonly preferred route and involves documented experience hours, education, and evaluation. CPE training can lead to a Board Certified Chaplain certification, which is an industry-recognized designation. The education and training offered in these programs are more focused on specific skills and knowledge (listening, communication, and religious scholarship) you will need while working as a chaplain compared to the somewhat more general studies offered in degree programs.

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