Citation: White, Kelsey, Jennifer Cañas Alegria, Amy Lawton, Michael Skaggs, Wendy Cadge, and Shirah Hecht. 2022. “Becoming a chaplain: Costs and compensation.” Chaplaincy Innovation Lab.


This report begins describing the cost of training to become chaplain and the salaries and benefits chaplains receive in the United States. Anyone who considers themselves a chaplain in the United States was encouraged to complete this survey.[i] Questions asked included basic demographic information, whether the respondents were currently employed or volunteer as chaplains, what their training consisted of, and what their current salaries and benefits were. It is based on a survey conducted by the Chaplaincy Innovation Lab at Brandeis University in October 2021.

The survey was sent to approximately 10,000 people who receive the Lab’s newsletter as well as to the Lab’s partners, including the National Association for Catholic Chaplains, Association of Professional Chaplains, ACPE: The Standard for Spiritual Care and Education, and Neshama: Association of Jewish Chaplains.

The data that follows was not gathered from a statistically random sample and readers should be cautious about drawing conclusions about its wider generalizability. Military and prison chaplains, for example, are under-represented in this sample.[ii] We hope this survey sparks more comprehensive overviews of the financial aspects of training and employment as a professional chaplain in the United States.

[i] This survey was approved by the Institutional Review Board at Brandeis University.

[ii] As of January 2021, there were approximately 4,310 military chaplains working in the U.S. military. Most military chaplains work in the Army (N=1,510) or Navy (N=875). In July 2021, the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) released an audit of its Chaplaincy Services Program. According to the report, as of March 2020, there were 263 chaplains and 64 assistants dispersed among the BOP’s 122 institutions “Audit of the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ Management and Oversight of Its Chaplaincy Services Program,” July 2021. The most recent national data about chaplains working in state correctional facilities is a 50-state survey by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life released in 2012. “Religion in Prisons – A 50-State Survey of Prison Chaplains,” Pew Research Center’s Religion & Public Life Project, 2012,


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