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What Is the Average Salary of a Chaplain?

Chaplains work in a variety of fields performing religious services and giving spiritual support to those in need. A chaplain's salary is based on a number of factors, including his or her employer, experience, education and location. Read on to learn more about salary, career opportunities and educational requirements for chaplains.

Salary Ranges for Chaplains

According to Payscale.com, chaplains earned a median salary of $49,485 as of June 2019. The website noted that experience doesn't always mean an increase in salary in this field and that entry level positions often do not pay much more than experienced positions. PayScale.com reported entry-level chaplains earned a median salary of $42,261 with experienced chaplains earning a median salary of $51,254.

However, specialization in certain fields may offer you slightly different salary opportunities. Chaplains with skills in hospice care, according to PayScale.com, earned a median salary of $47,793, and those with a concentration in hospitals earned a median salary of $49,555.

Important Facts About Clergy

On-the-job Training Moderate on-the-job training
Key Skills Public speaking, active listening, reading comprension, social awareness, service orientation
Work Environment Religious facilities such as churches, military bases, hospitals, event services including weddings and funerals, nonprofit organizations
Similar Occupations Education administrators, social and community service managers, counseling psychologists

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Employment Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that the overall employment of clergy professionals would grow by 8% between the years of 2016 and 2026 (www.bls.gov). The three major employers of chaplains, as of May 2018 BLS data, are religious organizations, hospitals and home health care services, which employed 23,390, 8,120 and 6,550 professionals, respectively.

Job Duties

As a chaplain, you may work for hospices, universities, prisons or the military. Your primary responsibilities will include leading religious services, providing spiritual support and offering guidance to those unable to attend services. Chaplains write religious sermons, conduct weddings and recite funeral ceremonies. Chaplains might also organize educational programs for other religious providers, youth groups, prisoners or those considering conversion to a particular faith.

Educational Requirements

Chaplains often major in theology in an undergraduate program before continuing their education at the graduate level in a seminary program. You may earn a graduate-level degree in psychology, theology or pastoral counseling. These programs will help you develop the skills needed to provide emotional support, mental health support and psychological therapy.

Programs usually include some type of clinical study. However, it is important to note that there are not licensing laws for chaplains in many states, so your education and certification requirements are often based upon the rules of the organization for which you are going to work.

Certification Information

For certification, you may be required to have ministry experience. Certification is often done through a national organization. While certification is not always absolutely necessary, it is often considered a highly desirable professional asset that can increase your career opportunities and salary potential.