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How to Become a Chaplain in 30 Days

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Most chaplains represent the Abrahamic faiths – Christianity, Judaism and Islam – in schools, colleges, hospitals, hospices, armed forces and prisons. But chaplains also include Buddhists, Hindus and members of other faiths.

Becoming a chaplain in 30 days is a challenge. The most important item you need is an ecclesiastical endorsement from your religious leader as you will be representing that faith group.

A certified chaplain must have a divinity or theology degree plus pastoral and/or counseling experience.

If you do not meet these requirements, you can still begin your career by applying to become a chaplaincy assistant.

Gathering your experience and qualifications

Obtain a comprehensive written recommendation from your pastor, imam, rabbi or other religious leader where you have belonged to a congregation or led one.

Write a one- or two-page resume highlighting your academic background, religious involvement, e.g., ordination, and any counseling, pastoral or teaching experience you have.

If you have a theology or divinity degree and relevant experience, you can apply to the American Board of Certified Chaplains by going online to accreditboard.org and providing the materials you have gathered. The board will assess your application for either basic or advanced level certification. Board membership will enhance your resume and help with any further applications.

If you are a seminary student in a program of theology or divinity studies, you can apply to the U.S. Army Chaplain Candidate Program, which provides training at Army installations around the United States as well as some sites in Europe, or the U.S. Islamic Chaplaincy Program at Hartford Seminary in Connecticut.

If you wish to apply for a position as an army chaplain, call a recruiter at the U.S. Army Chaplain Corps. You can find the correct phone number by going to the U.S. Army site, goarmy.com, and selecting "locate a recruiter." To apply to the U.S. Air Force Chaplain Corps, visit usafhc.af.mil and follow the instructions there. For the U.S. Navy Chaplain Corps, go to chaplaincare.navy.mil.

Outside the military, you can find positions to apply for using religious newspapers and websites that list vacancies for pastors, chaplains and faith school teachers.

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About the Author

Based in London, Shaun Humphreys began writing professionally in 2007 in his position as news reporter at "Cyprus Mail" newspaper. His articles have appeared in the "Cyprus Mail" and "Time Out London." Humphreys holds a Bachelor of Arts in American and English literature and is pursuing a Master of Arts in print journalism.