How to Become a Chaplain Without Experience

Updated April 17, 2017

Chaplaincy involves helping others from a spiritual perspective during times of crisis. Even though some direct experience is usually required for employment as a chaplain, service in local churches as a deacon or layperson strengthens the resume. There are many locations where inexperienced chaplains may serve to obtain experience. Chaplains may work within traditional and non-traditional areas, including counselling centres, private medical institutions and educational settings.

Earn a secular bachelor's degree in the field of theology, divinity or a related field. Obtain a master's level degree within the field of theology, religion or divinity from a recognised and accredited theological school or bible college. Obtain a ministry license and ordination through your local church or online resource.

Volunteer your time in nontraditional settings in your local areas, including food banks, crisis centres or medical clinics. Become a chaplain's apprentice as a trainee chaplain.

Study various areas of chaplaincy, including the various religions you may encounter during your work. Volunteer for various chaplaincy roles, including those in the settings of prisons, hospitals or a children's centre.

Obtain specialised education, such as clinical pastoral education units, to work in the field of chaplaincy that best fits you. Meet any criteria that you need to move on to the next level of practicing chaplain.

Gather educational information about yourself, including copies of bachelor's degrees. Begin a resume by writing the objective, which explains the reason you chose chaplaincy as a career. Include any areas of service, including secular and non-secular volunteerism.

Finish your resume by adding the your experience as a volunteer chaplain or trainee Chaplain. Place a professional copy of all degrees and licenses in your portfolio.

Present your finished portfolio to prospective employers. Maintain an attitude of expansion once you obtain the position you desire. Work to obtain advancements within your selected field of chaplaincy work in order to serve future clients with increased knowledge and expertise.


Remain open minded even if you have had plenty of indirect experience within your local church or ministry. As you volunteer, you will find many bits of knowledge and tips for chaplaincy, which will assist you to better serve each future client.


Remember the customer is always right when it comes to chaplaincy work. If you have a client who is a different religion from you, you need to work within their religious sect to help them bests. If you don't feel comfortable crossing religious barriers, then find chaplaincy work which only focuses on religious beliefs you value.

Things You'll Need

  • Minister's license and ordination
  • Bachelor's degree in divinity
  • Master's degree in theology
  • Resume
  • Portfolio
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About the Author

Leah Logan was born in East Palo Alto, Calif., and currently resides in Austin, Texas. She is an international author, certified diversity consultant and the founder and president of The Purple Heart Institute, a consulting and coaching business for self-esteem, transition, recovery and empowerment.