Job Family: Counseling, Social Work, and Human Services Chaplains
Services Offering this Occupation
Army  | Navy  | Air Force  | Coast Guard

Supplemental Information
Profile  | 
Photo 1: Chaplain leads others in prayer. Photo 2:
Rabbi leads Passover service.

Jeff Saville
Occupation: Chaplain

I wanted to work with a broad range of people from a range of religious traditions, not just my own denomination. I also wanted to be a…

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Short Description
The military provides for the spiritual needs of its personnel by offering religious services, moral guidance, and counseling. Chaplains conduct worship services for military personnel and perform other spiritual duties covering the beliefs and practices of all religious faiths.

What They Do
Chaplains in the military perform some or all of the following duties:
  • Advise personnel on ethical and religious matters
  • Conduct worship services in a variety of religious faiths
  • Perform religious rites and ceremonies, such as weddings and funeral services
  • Visit and provide spiritual guidance to personnel in hospitals and to their families
  • Counsel individuals who seek guidance
  • Promote attendance at religious services, retreats, and conferences
  • Oversee religious education programs, such as Sunday school and youth groups
  • Train lay leaders who conduct religious education programs
  • Prepare religious speeches and publications

Helpful Attributes
Helpful attributes include:
  • Ability to express ideas clearly and concisely
  • Interest in planning and directing the work of others
  • Sensitivity to the needs of others

Training Provided
Job training consists of classroom instruction. Further training occurs on the job and through advanced courses. Course content typically includes:
  • Role and responsibility of military chaplains
  • Administration and leadership techniques
  • Training and education methods
  • Procedures for planning programs
  • Pastoral counseling methods

Work Environment
Chaplains in the military usually work in offices, hospitals, and places of worship. Those assigned to sea duty work aboard ships. Those assigned to land combat units sometimes work outdoors.

Civilian Counterparts
Civilian chaplains work in places of worship, hospitals, universities, and correctional institutions. They perform duties similar to those performed in the military. However, they are almost always affiliated with a particular religious faith. Chaplains are also called clergy, ministers, preachers, priests, or rabbis.

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