How do I Become a Marine Chaplain?

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  • Written By: Tara Barnett
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 20 June 2017
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In order to become a Marine chaplain in the United States of America, one must first be ordained in one of the many faiths represented among those serving in the Navy or in the Marines. Then training specified by the Navy must be completed. Usually, there are special qualifications needed to become a Marine chaplain, such as possessing a certain level of education. While the Marine Corps does not itself train chaplains, the United States Navy Chaplain Corps serves the Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard. When training is completed, one will properly be called a Navy chaplain and will have an officer's rank.

Usually, people who feel called to become a Marine chaplain obtain religious certification first. There are many different religions recognized in the Marines, and chaplains can come from Catholic, Muslim, or many other backgrounds. A religious organization or group must sponsor the chaplain, and if the group revokes sponsorship, he or she is no longer qualified to work with the Marines.

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Before applying to become a Marine chaplain, it is usually necessary to achieve a bachelor's degree in any field as well as a graduate degree in a theological field. It is also necessary to be 21 years of age or older. If one is certain that one wishes to become a Marine chaplain, then it is possible to be considered for placement through the Chaplain Candidate Program Officer Program. Otherwise, one typically applies to the Navy chaplain school after graduation. Becoming a Marine chaplain is dependent on successful completion of each of these aspects.

Marine chaplains also need a number of personal qualities in order to be successful. For instance, the ability to remain calm under pressure is absolutely essential to success when deployed. Comfort when dealing with people from diverse backgrounds is also essential, as Marines of all walks of life will depend on one's ability to provide comfort and guidance. While Marine chaplains are classified as noncombatants and do not carry weapons, there is still the spiritual challenge of working with people who may kill others. Having an understanding of all issues like these that are specific to Marine chaplains is essential for success.

Other nations also have seaborne chaplains who may serve as spiritual guides to marines. The requirements to become the equivalent of a Marine chaplain in the Royal Marines, for instance, involve endorsement from a religious organization and military training as well. No matter where one is serving, one can be certain that one will need to achieve excellence in both religious and military training in order to become a Marine chaplain.

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