CAREER PATHS / NOV. 22, 2014
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How to Become a School Chaplain in the US

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Religious education is an important aspect of an education system. It not only promotes the moral, social and cultural development of students, but also helps to nurture them into responsible citizens who can add value to the society. School chaplains are the professionals who are entrusted with the responsibility of leading students into spiritual well-being. If you are religious and passionate about influencing the lives of children and young adults, this is a career you should consider pursuing.

What Do School Chaplains Do?

Although the duties of chaplains vary from school to school, their job commonly involves the following tasks:

  • Contributing to the development of the school liturgy
  • Creating and implementing spiritual development initiatives
  • Proving individual guidance to students and educators
  • Reviewing the school’s religious policies and recommending adjustments where necessary
  • Managing student support programs, such as Girl Talks
  • Providing peer mentoring to students
  • Ensuring all pupils attend all prayer sessions.

Work Environment

While chaplains who work for large schools have full-time schedules, those in smaller schools work part-time. Regardless of the work schedule, chaplains spend their time within the school environment. When they are not leading prayer sessions in school halls or other designated places, these chaplains can be found in their offices counseling students or doing some other administrative tasks.

Salary

Occupation

Average Annual Salary

School Chaplain

$26,000

Source: Indeed

Entry Requirements

To become a school chaplain, you don’t need to hold any post-secondary qualification. Schools are more concerned about your ability to provide pastoral care to students and the wider school community.

As such, you need to show evidence of a solid religious foundation. Employers will definitely put you through a series of interviews to ascertain whether you are the right fit for the job. To increase your suitability to the job, you can pursue a degree in:

  • Theology
  • Religious studies
  • Divinity studies

You may also need to have a letter of endorsement from an organization that represents your faith group. If you are a Christian, for example, you can obtain the letter from the American Association of Christian Counselors.

Important Skills

To be an effective school chaplain you need:

  • Strong communication skills
  • Good physical and emotional strength
  • Good interpersonal skills to work with students from various religious backgrounds
  • The ability to respect other people’s religious choices
  • Good teamwork skills
  • Good planning an organizing skills
  • Good record keeping skills
  • A good understanding of the culture of young adults
  • An interest in working with young people.

Career Development

What are your advancement prospects as a school chaplain? Well, as gain more pastoral care experience, you enhance your chances of getting hired by large instuitions with better compensation packages.

The Board of Chaplaincy Certification, which is an affiliate of the Association of Professional Chaplains, offers relevant certifications, which you can obtain to demonstrate your competence and heighten advancement prospects.

If you are ambitious enough, you can pursue a master’s degree in theology or any other relevant field.

You can also secure membership in the following professional bodies:

Employment Opportunities

The employers of school chaplains include:

  • Primary and middle schools
  • Secondary schools
  • Junior colleges
  • Professional schools
  • Universities

Chaplains who obtain a graduate degree can progress from providing chaplaincy care to teaching religious education courses in colleges and universities.

From 2012 through 2022, the Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts the creation of 7,920 jobs for all religious workers, including school chaplains. Given that each school only needs one or two chaplains, you can expect to face some competition for employment opportunities.

The passion for building a strong religious foundation in young people should be sufficient to steer you toward this job.

 

Image: iStock

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