If this is how you envision your future, the National Association of Catholic Chaplains invites you to pursue a rewarding and faith-filled career as a professional chaplain.
Chaplains are professionals who provide spiritual and emotional support to people in many different settings. You’ll listen to people who are in a very vulnerable place. You’ll celebrate with families who received great news. As a chaplain, you will mark the beginning of lives, the end of lives and the many transforming moments in between.
Chaplaincy is open to anyone who feels called to support people with their spiritual and emotional wellbeing. Chaplains come from all walks of life, including lay men and lay women, priests, religious and deacons.
Chaplains work wherever there are people. You’ve likely seen professional chaplains in healthcare and senior care environments, or perhaps hospice. But there are also chaplains in places like prisons and the military. You could even be a chaplain in a corporation, a college or a youth camp.
Most employers require Board Certification for full time employment as a chaplain. The National Association of Catholic Chaplains offers Board Certification to Catholics in good standing who:
- Hold a graduate degree in theology, divinity, religious studies, pastoral studies or spirituality from an accredited institution. Learn more about Graduate Theological Programs.
- Complete four units of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) accredited by ACPE. Learn more about CPE Programs.
- Successfully meet NACC qualifications and competencies. Learn more about NACC prerequisites.
Early on, many a chaplain has said, “I know it’s my call, I have to make it happen.” Masters level education in theology or pastoral ministry can be achieved in diverse ways (full time, part time, on line) at graduate schools throughout the country. The Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) units can be taken over an extended period of time, or in an intensive one-year residency which is usually modestly compensated. Many employers will consider hiring a person with one CPE unit or more knowing this person’s plan is to complete certification. Don’t be put off by the requirements. Being certified establishes you in the profession and among the other interdisciplinary professionals with whom you will be working.
Professional chaplains earn a good living! The median annual salary for chaplains in the United States is right around $50,000, with different industries reporting different compensation rates. There are many opportunities for career growth and advancement as a chaplain, which can bring salaries into the six-digit range for leadership roles.
There is definitely demand for board-certified professional chaplains to start today! In fact, there are critical shortages for pastoral care in many rural communities. With the average age of Catholic chaplains at about 64, we are forecasting an increased demand as the baby boomer generation chaplains enter retirement. This is a great time to Choose Chaplaincy! Check out current job listings.
That depends on who you are and what God has written on your heart. If you have a deeply compassionate heart and care about people; if you want to make a real difference in people’s lives when they need a listening ear, then the answer is definitely Yes! Join the 10,000 chaplains of different faiths who daily serve in diverse settings including: hospitals, hospice, palliative care, mental health, prisons and other settings where people experience life’s pain, setbacks and celebrations. Caring chaplains can help people who seek to understand their lives from a faith perspective.
You can read stories about the work chaplains do and why they do it in our publication:
Chaplain Encounters: Stories of Grace and Spiritual Healing from the National Association of Catholic Chaplains.
The National Association of Catholic Chaplains advocates for the profession of spiritual care and educates, certifies, and supports chaplains, clinical pastoral educators, and all members who continue the healing ministry of Jesus in the name of the Church. NACC represents professionals dedicated to the spiritual care of persons experiencing pain, vulnerability, joy, and hope. Learn more about NACC.
WE WANT YOUR HELP
There are future chaplains among us who just need a gentle nudge to hear their calling. Here are FREE materials you can download and print to hang in your church or campus bulletin boards. We have folded brochures and flyers, plus large posters aimed at both first and second-career chaplain candidates. You may order printed materials using this order form. We also have 2 sizes of ads you can request to be placed in your parish bulletins. Any of these files are also great for emailing to individuals who are searching for their vocation. Additionally, we have a collection of chaplaincy-themed graphics you can download and share on your Facebook and Instagram accounts!
Chaplain Encounters: Stories of Grace and Spiritual Healing from the National Association of Catholic Chaplains
Stories of Chaplaincy’s Calling – Learn how some of our members arrived at the vocation of chaplaincy.
Chaplains Are More Than What Chaplains Do by Rev. Stephen Ryan, OSM
Do You Want to See the Chaplain? by Joan E. Carlson
Frequently-Asked Questions about Certification (See “What does certification by the National Association of Catholic Chaplains mean?”)