The Navy Chaplain Corps boasts more than 800 Navy Chaplains from more than 100 different faith groups, including Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist and many others. Each Chaplain is also a Navy Officer, meaning each holds an important leadership role.
Chaplains offer everything from faith leadership, to personal advice, to much-needed solace—all while living up to the guiding principles of the Chaplain Mission:
- Providing religious ministry and support to those of your own faith
- Facilitating the religious requirements of those from all faiths
- Caring for all servicemembers and their families, including those subscribing to no specific faith
- Advising the command in ensuring the free exercise of religion
As a Navy Chaplain, your job spans a broad range of duties. You will support fellow servicemembers during their most joyful moments, and during their most difficult. Your responsibilities might include:
- Conduct worship services in a variety of settings
- Perform religious rites and ceremonies such as weddings, funeral services and baptisms
- Counsel individuals who seek guidance
- Oversee religious education programs, such as Sunday school and youth groups
- Visit and provide spiritual guidance and care to hospitalized personnel and/or their family members
- Train lay leaders who conduct religious education programs
- Promote attendance at religious services, retreats and conferences
- Advise leaders at all levels regarding morale, ethics and spiritual well-being
Navy Chaplains immerse themselves in the daily lives of servicemembers. In what can be best described as a ministry of presence, they are there to offer guidance and insight in the moment, whenever they are needed. You could provide support while on land or at sea, when presiding over religious ceremonies on a base, or when conducting services from the flight deck of an aircraft carrier.
NAVY RESERVE OPPORTUNITIES
Serving part-time as a Navy Reserve Sailor, your duties will be carried out during your scheduled drilling and training periods. During monthly drilling, Chaplains in the Navy Reserve typically work at a location close to their homes. This gives you the flexibility to minister in the Navy while maintaining responsibilities to your congregation at home.
Most of what you do in the Navy Reserve is considered training. The basic Navy Reserve commitment involves training a minimum of one weekend a month (referred to as drilling) and two weeks a year (referred to as Annual Training) – or the equivalent of that.
Chaplains in the Navy Reserve serve in an Officer role. Before receiving the ongoing professional training that comes with this job, initial training requirements must be met.
CURRENT OR FORMER MILITARY OFFICER APPLICANTS
For current or former Navy Officers (NAVET): Prior experience satisfies the initial leadership training requirement – so you will not need to go through Officer Training again.
For current or former Officers of military branches other than the Navy (OSVET), as well as for Officer candidates without prior military experience: attend the Officer Development School (ODS) in Newport, RI. ODS is a five-week program that provides a comprehensive and intense introduction to the responsibilities of Navy Staff Corps Officers. Here you will learn about the military structure of the U.S. Navy, its rich history of traditions and customs, leadership development and military etiquette.
TRAINING & ADVANCEMENT
Those pursuing a Chaplain position are required to attend Officer Development School (ODS) in Newport, RI. Upon completion, they attend a seven-week course at the Naval Chaplaincy School and Center, also in Newport, RI.
Promotion opportunities are regularly available but are competitive and based on performance. It is also important to note that specialized training received and work experience gained in the course of service can lead to valuable credentialing and occupational opportunities in related fields such as family counseling and behavioral therapy.
Navy Chaplains typically continue their education throughout their careers. Opportunities for continuing education are available through the Advanced Education Program while being paid full-time as a Navy Officer. Beyond professional credentials and certifications, Navy Chaplains can advance their education by:
- Pursuing opportunities at institutions such as at various military service colleges, civilian institutions, or clinical pastoral education (CPE)
- Completing Joint Professional Military Education (JPME) at one of the various service colleges
- Also keep in mind: If you’re in the process of starting or completing your graduate theological degree, you could potentially enter the Navy Chaplain Candidate Program (CCPO) as a student.
ACTIVE DUTY BENEFITS
Our people are our most valuable assets, so we care for them well. With world-class training, opportunity to pay for college and advanced degrees, access to the best health care in the country, retirement plans, tax incentives, and more perks than you could have imagined, Navy active-duty benefits are the most competitive out there. Peace of mind is right at your doorstep.
- Opportunities to travel the world
- 30 days of paid vacation time each year
- Competitive pay and bonuses
- Promotions based on ability and performance
- Comprehensive medical and dental care
- Low-cost childcare services
- Tax-free allowances for housing and meals
- Excellent retirement benefits
QUALIFICATIONS & REQUIREMENTS
A candidate seeking to serve as a Navy Chaplain and Officer must:
- Have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited four-year undergraduate educational institution
- Have a graduate degree in theological or related studies from an accredited educational institution (note that a qualifying degree program requires no fewer than 72 semester hours or 108 quarter hours of graduate-level work; also note that related studies may include graduate courses in pastoral counseling, social work, religious administration and similar disciplines when one-half of the earned credits include topics in general religion, world religions, the practice of religion, theology, religious philosophy, religious ethics and/or the foundational writings from the applicant’s religious tradition)
- Have two years of full-time religious leadership post-graduate degree experience that is compatible with the duties of a Religious Ministry Professional (RMP) in their respective Religious Organizations (RO) and relevant to the settings of military chaplaincy
- Must be able to obtain an Ecclesiastical Endorsement from a religious faith organization registered with the Department of Defense.
General qualifications may vary depending upon whether you are currently serving, whether or not you have served before.