Community & Social Services
Chaplains are responsible for pastoral care in organisations such as schools, hospitals, prisons, emergency services and the military.
What does a Chaplain do?
Chaplains are responsible for pastoral care in organisations such as schools, hospitals, prisons, emergency services and the military. They serve as a source of spiritual and emotional support for staff members, patients, inmates or residents of those organisations and their families and carers. Chaplains may be men or women, ordained or non-ordained, and of any denomination.
As a chaplain, you might:
- lead regular religious or inter-faith services or ceremonies
- counsel and support people at difficult times in their lives
- calm angry or emotionally distraught friends and family members
- provide spiritual support to staff members
- develop religious study programs
- work closely with teachers in relation to the welfare of students
- plan and run prayer groups and camps
- motivate and inspire staff, students, inmates or military personnel.
Key skills and interests
To become a chaplain, you would need:
- strong commitment to people's welfare
- excellent communication and interpersonal skills
- the ability to be patient, trustworthy and to act with discretion
- the capacity to communicate respectfully across cultures and with persons of different faiths
- high standards of ethical behaviour
- leadership skills.
Working hours and conditions
As a chaplain you would need to be prepared to work long hours, and may also need to be on call 24/7.
Depending on your post you may be based in a hospital, prison, school or with a military group. Each position would have different requirements. If you are based with an armed forces unit you may be sent on active service in Australia or overseas.
How to become an Chaplain?
Entry Level Education
Chaplains usually need tertiary qualifications as well as certification or training in pastoral care. To become a chaplain you could either complete a formal degree in theology, psychology or counselling, or have degree-level qualifications and experience in a field such as welfare, combined with on the job training.
Different organisations and institutions may require you to have different qualifications or experience to be able to apply for a role as chaplain. For example, to be a school chaplain you may also need teaching qualifications.
The job outlook for chaplains is expected to remain steady.
Funding for chaplaincy roles is somewhat discretionary, and may be subject to change except in organisations such as hospitals and the military, where full-time roles should always be available.