Getting Started as a Chaplain

Exploring a career in chaplaincy or spiritual care? Supporting individuals as they grow, change and face life’s challenges can be very rewarding.

It’s important to think about several questions from the outset.  Where do you want to work? What training will you need? How do you feel about working with people from a range of backgrounds?

There are many credentialing bodies and no commonly agreed-upon criteria for training but here is an overview of what is required in some roles  When it comes to training, some institutions offer degree programs in chaplaincy, while others offer chaplaincy specializations (similar to “minors” in undergraduate education) or certificates. Other institutions offer recognition to chaplains based on ordination or some other classification within a faith tradition.

To learn more explore the Lab’s resources  on degree programs, endorsing organizations, clinical training organizations, and more. Be sure to also check out the Lab’s series Field Guide for Aspiring Chaplains. If you would like to be connected to current chaplains for a brief conversation about entering the profession, email us at

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Cover of Art of Spiritual Care, introducing CPE
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Just getting started? Check out our free eBook Beginner’s Guide to Spiritual Care, now available here.

We also offer an eBook on clinical pastoral education, which many chaplains pursue as part of their credentialing.

What do chaplaincy employers look for in successful applicants for chaplaincy positions? We interviewed leaders in six key spiritual care sectors and asked what they need in the places they serve. Learn more here.