Air Force Chaplains support airmen with spiritual resilience.
These individuals advocate for airmen and provide pastoral care ministry and counseling to any individuals with or without faith.
Air Force Chaplains are relied upon for faith and personal guidance.
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Education, Qualifications, and Training
The Air Force has strict requirements for individuals who wish to join as a Chaplain.
This is to ensure that people who wish to serve as a Chaplain can meet not only the physical requirements but have the experience to give proper support.
When you join, you will be commissioned as an officer and the actual rank you will receive will be dependent on the education level and experience.
Individuals wishing to join the Air Force in the Chaplain position must have a Bachelor’s Degree and at least 120 semester hours from an accredited institution.
They must also have a Master of Divinity or another similar theological degree with 72 or more hours from an accredited institution.
Recruits must have two years of religious ministry experience to meet the Pastoral Ministry Requirement.
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The qualifications to join the Air Force as a Chaplain include:
- U.S. Citizen
- No history of disciplinary action for engaging in an unprofessional or an inappropriate relationship
- Ecclesiastical Endorsement from a DoD-recognized endorser
- Meet Air Force Medical and Physical fitness standards
- No convictions, other than minor traffic, by courts-martial or civilian courts
- No history of disciplinary action for financial irresponsibility, child abuse or domestic violence
- Between 18 and 40 years old
When individuals choose to join the Air Force as a Chaplain, they will go through 3 phases of clearance and screening prior to being accepted.
Phase 1-Applicant Screening
During the first phase, individuals will be screened from an Air Force Recruiting Service Chaplain.
The individual must present their Ecclesiastical Endorsement (DoD Form 2088) as well as a religious leadership experience resume.
Phase 2-Application Review
Individuals must present their official academic transcripts from any educational institutions they attended.
Phase 3-Final Processing
Applicants will go to the nearest Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) to complete a Department of Defense physical.
They must also submit to a security clearance and credit check screening.
After all testing and screening is complete, and the recruit has passed everything, they will attend Commissioned Officer Training for 5 weeks at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama.
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What are the job duties of an Air Force Chaplain?
Air Force Chaplains come from a variety of different denominations.
Some of these denominations include: Muslim, Jewish, Christian Protestant, Orthodox Christian, and Roman Catholic.
Having a diverse group of Chaplains is important because they support a diverse group of airmen.
Chaplains play an important role because they are often the ones that individuals turn to when their faith is being tested.
The situations that people in the military face can make people question their faith and place.
Chaplains conduct worship services, liturgies, and rites in military bases all over the world.
In addition to conducting services, Chaplains are responsible for supervising and managing chapel personnel.
They are in charge of all operations and ministry programming.
When individuals are having issues with leaders that are spiritual, religious, ethical, moral, or relate to quality of life, Chaplains step in and attempt to be the median person, advising and attempting to resolve the issues with leaders.
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Chaplains take a pledge that is a personal commitment to the Constitution’s protection of free exercise of religion and the prohibition of the government’s establishment of religion.
Through this pledge, Chaplains are to be seen as the visible reminders that individuals have free exercise of religion.
They support not just the airmen but their family members on base.
Every day is different for Air Force Chaplains.
Their duty is to go to the individual’s job site and work beside them.
This is called unification.
They build relationships and trust by being beside the individuals and beginning the communication.
One day, a Chaplain may be in the air with a pilot, and the next day they may be on the ground with a K9 trainer.
They can be in training facilities, on-base, or in deployment areas.
They advise individuals on what they can and cannot do in the Air Force from a religious perspective.
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Chaplains are especially important during deployment.
Individuals are faced with situations they are not used to and generally need someone to talk to and confide in.
Chaplains travel and are in deployed situations frequently because of their need to be available to those who are deployed.
Just because the Chaplain does not hold a specific job in the military, does not mean that they are not doing some of the functions that the individual might be doing in combat.
Chaplains must be as physically strong as those around them, so they can keep up, but spiritually stronger, so they can provide the guidance when needed.
The airmen open up to those who are around them in deployment situations.
You can find more information from a Chaplain’s point of view in the video below.
What is the pay like for a Chaplain in the Air Force?
They pay for a Chaplain will depend on the rank the officer receives.
The officer’s rank will be based on the education and experience they have.
All individuals in the Air Force get paid the same based on rank and years of service.
As an officer with less than 2 years experience in the Second Lieutenant rank (lowest on the pay table), you can expect to receive just over $3,100 base pay monthly.
In addition to the pay table above, individuals who serve as a Chaplain in the Air Force will receive benefits.
Air Force benefits include:
- Insurance-Free or low cost medical and dental, paid sick time, and low-cost life insurance
- Housing-allowance that covers living expenses including utilities and maintenance
- Food-Monthly allowance plus tax-free department and grocery stores
- Retirement-Available after 20 years of service with zero payroll deductions
- Vacation-30 days paid vacation
- Education-Tuition assistance programs that assist with up to 100% off your tuition
- Recreation-On-base recreational centers, social events, and youth activities
You can find the pay table for Officers and more details about each benefit by visiting the Air Force website here.
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When looking at reviews from people who serve in the Air Force in the Chaplain position, they refer to this position as a calling.
They mention that this position is challenging but rewarding.
Individuals get to know people from all jobs in the Air Force.
This position is not for everyone because of the constant moving.
Positive reviews of the position discuss the development and experience that individuals gain.
Negative reviews discuss the multiple deployments, long hours, and sometimes being in remote locations.
A review from a staff Chaplain in the Air Force can be found below.
Civilian Career Opportunities
As part of the requirements to join the Air Force as Chaplain, individuals will complete a high degree of education and experience.
Once they are in the Air Force, they will gain more hands-on experience leading groups and counseling individuals.
Depending on what religion they practice, Chaplains will gain direct experience that allows them to become a leader in their community.
You can find work as a Chaplain as a civilian in hospitals, hospice locations, private establishments, or Department of Corrections.
The pay range for civilian Chaplain varies widely depending on the experience and type of business.
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Air Force Chaplains play an important role in the mental health of airmen.
These individuals can work in any location all of the world and alongside individuals in any job in the Air Force.
Their main job is to give support and encouragement to those who need it.
They can do this through worship services, individual counseling, and unification.
Air Force Chaplains are Officers and have both education and experience requirements.
People in this position find that it is both fulfilling and challenging.
There are civilian positions as Chaplain that range in salary and location.