By Buddy Blouin
When you think of the U.S. military, a life of piety may not be the first thought that pops into your mind, but it’s an important avenue, nevertheless. A military chaplain serves an important role within the military for both troops and their families. Not only are they an access point for spiritual needs, but they also help ensure that the religious freedoms our troops are fighting to defend are upheld while they're serving. No matter where your spiritual journey takes you, you’re sure to find people serving to help you enjoy your freedoms and guide you through your time. Learn more about the military chaplain salary, their duties, and more with our comprehensive guide.

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How Much Does an Army Chaplain Make?

In the U.S. Army, most either enter or achieve the rank of Captain while serving as a military chaplain. This would mean an Army chaplain salary of around $55,638. A closer look at the military chaplain salary and career outlook shows that they can expect to make a median salary of $50,400, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Two of the biggest factors for military chaplains within any branch of service that will determine their salary, however, is the same as any other position within the military. Your compensation is largely tied to both the amount of time you have served in the military as well as your rank. Military chaplain jobs can be found in various branches with compensation varying among them. But beyond the military chaplain salary, the position is one filled with the benefits that come with a spiritual journey. Various faiths are represented throughout the U.S. military, with chaplains serving in an overwhelming majority of units in some form, including as spiritual guides.

Controversy and Requirements

Intertwined within the unique roles of chaplains comes a variety of viewpoints, including the idea of keeping religion out of government-funded ventures as well as the right to practice one’s faith. Part of the requirements for being a military chaplain revolves around being nominated through an ecclesiastical endorsement from their faith group. This is on top of any other promotions and selections involved with military service. Each branch also has its own requirements for such endorsements. For example, a chaplain within the Navy must receive their endorsement from a faith group that's registered with the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), whereas an Army chaplain does not. This is important because part of your duties will involve navigating these types of relationships to ensure that rights are upheld and lines aren’t crossed. Controversies have erupted because of the actions dealing with the idea that government money is used to promote religious acts, such as prayers. Your role within the service will be, in part, to keep things fair for a variety of religious beliefs.

How To Be a Chaplain in the Army

Becoming an Army chaplain is more than just a calling or reaching educational standards. It requires both. Here’s how you can qualify:
  • You’ll need to either be a graduating senior in college or have earned a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university.
  • Military chaplains must have an endorsement for military service from their faith group.
  • You’ll also need to enroll as a full-time student in an accredited graduate program to become an ordained minister.
Army chaplain duties require you to be a spiritual guide but also maintain the rights of other faiths to practice within their rights. You’re there during some of the worst possible times of a military member’s life, including any family struggles and, potentially, at the end of their lives. Overall, the military chaplain salary isn’t why people join the service in this capacity. It’s a special calling and necessary role that isn’t always talked about but serves to help people throughout their time in the military from mental and spiritual standpoints.

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The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement. Photo by Staff Sgt. Caitlin Brink Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point




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