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Chaplain Duties and Responsibilities

A chaplain's job duties vary based on the hiring facility's size and the number of patients and staff members they care for. However, there are several core job tasks associated with this job despite these factors, including:

Counsel Patients and Families Chaplains provide counseling services to people going through personal and emotional challenges of all sorts.

Provide Spiritual Support Chaplains answer faith-based questions and provide spiritual guidance to patients and staff members across various religious belief systems.

Perform Religious Services Chaplains perform religious ceremonies including weddings, funerals, and baptismal events. They also perform prayer and meditation services in group and one-on-one settings.

Oversee Education Programs Chaplains lead and manage faith-based education programs, like Sunday school.

Create Care Plans Chaplains design spiritual care plans for patients and collaborate on treatment plans with medical and mental health staff members.

Evaluate Patients Chaplains evaluate patients and document findings from these evaluations in medical charts.

Provide Crisis Intervention Chaplains provide crisis intervention services in times of death and other tragic events.


Chaplain Skills and Qualifications

Chaplains are excellent listeners and compassionate professionals with extensive spiritual knowledge who provide counseling and guidance to those in times of crisis and emotional instability. Facilities that hire chaplains look for professionals who have the following essential skills:
  • Spiritual knowledge - chaplains must understand multiple faiths in order to administer services to people of all belief systems and perform rituals of all religions
  • Public speaking - as chaplains conduct religious services and ceremonies, good public speaking skills are essential for professionals in this role
  • Teaching - chaplains conduct educational services, which requires some teaching ability
  • Communication skills - chaplains need excellent listening and verbal communication skills in order to speak with people in times of tragedy, crisis, and emotional upheaval
  • Analytical thinking - because chaplains evaluate patients and assess their spiritual needs, strong analytical thinking skills are a must-have for this job
  • Interpersonal skills - chaplains use well-honed interpersonal skills to speak with people of all ages and faiths and help them open up about their most intimate problems and emotions

Chaplain Salary and Outlook

According to data from PayScale, chaplains earn $48,384 in median yearly income. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that social workers earn a median income of $47,980 yearly and $23.07 hourly. Like chaplains, social workers help people manage their emotional problems and cope with daily life during tragedy, and also evaluate emotional and mental health issues. The BLS estimates that employment in this field will grow 16 percent by 2026, a rate that's much faster than the national average. A majority of chaplains receive healthcare benefits that include medical and dental coverage. Paid vacation days and holidays are also standard benefits offered by most employers.

Helpful Resources

Learn how to become a chaplain and find success in this career path with certification programs, spiritual techniques, job openings, and strategies provided in these books and websites:

Association of Professional Chaplains - learn more about chaplain certification programs, look for professional resources, and browse various publications at this website designed for chaplains of all faiths

The Work of the Chaplain - this book provides an overview of what it's like to be a professional chaplain, serving as an introductory guide for those starting out in this career field

American Chaplains Association - read newsletters, browse certification programs, look for upcoming events, and find out more about becoming a chaplain at the ACA website

Handbook for Chaplains: Comfort My People - this handbook's outline of major faiths around the world helps chaplains design religious ceremonies and cater their spiritual counseling to people of varying belief systems

Spiritual Care Association - explore the learning center, browse resources, and learn more about upcoming spiritual events at this site dedicated to all spiritual leaders and caregivers

Essential Chaplain Skill Sets: Discovering Effective Ways to Provide Excellent Spiritual Care - this easy-to-read book contains practical tips and resources for chaplains to help them master the art of administering spiritual care

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