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Top 10 Hospice Chaplain Certifications

This article provides an overview of the top certifications for hospice chaplains, including requirements and benefits.

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Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 19 min read

Certifications for hospice chaplains are important for several reasons. First, certifications demonstrate that the chaplain has met specific educational and professional standards and is qualified to provide spiritual and pastoral care in a hospice setting. This can help the chaplain stand out in the job market by providing assurance to employers that he or she has the necessary qualifications. Second, certifications can enable a hospice chaplain to access additional resources and support from professional organizations, such as continuing education opportunities or discounts on supplies. Finally, certifications may provide legal protection should any issues arise related to the provision of spiritual care. Certified chaplains may be better able to defend themselves against potential malpractice claims due to their certification status.

The purpose of this article is to review some of the top certifications for Hospice Chaplains and explain how they can enhance a hospice chaplain's career.

What are Hospice Chaplain Certifications?

Hospice chaplain certification is a specialized certification program designed to equip individuals with the necessary skills to provide spiritual and emotional support to those facing end-of-life issues. Hospice chaplains are part of a team of professionals offering specialized care for those in the final stages of life. The role of the hospice chaplain is to provide spiritual and emotional support to patients, families, and caregivers as they prepare for death. They are also responsible for providing spiritual guidance and counseling services that can help people cope with their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs during this difficult time.

Certified hospice chaplains have completed comprehensive training in all aspects of end-of-life care, including grief counseling, family dynamics, ethical considerations, pastoral care techniques, bereavement support services, medical decision making, and other related topics. By becoming certified in hospice chaplaincy, individuals are able to demonstrate their commitment to providing high quality end-of-life care and support.

The certification process helps ensure that certified hospice chaplains possess both the knowledge and skill needed to effectively serve as an advocate for patients facing end-of-life issues. This can include helping patients find comfort through prayer or religious practices; providing companionship during difficult times; assisting families in understanding the medical decisions that need to be made; offering emotional support; helping families develop coping strategies; providing guidance on funeral planning; facilitating conversations about death and dying; and more. Certified hospice chaplains can also help patients explore their own spirituality or beliefs so they can find peace before passing away.

By becoming certified in hospice chaplaincy, individuals can become an integral part of a multidisciplinary team providing compassionate care at the end of life. With these skillset they will be better equipped to meet the unique needs of those facing end-of-life issues so they may find peace during this challenging time.

Pro Tip: When pursuing a hospice chaplain certification, be sure to research the specific requirements of your state and the certifying body. Many states have their own requirements for hospice chaplain certification, and some may require additional education or experience beyond what is typically required. Additionally, different certifying bodies may have different criteria for obtaining a certification, so it's important to make sure that you are meeting all of their requirements.

Related: What does a Hospice Chaplain do?

Top 10 Hospice Chaplain Certifications

Here’s our list of the best certifications available to Hospice Chaplains today.

1. Board Certified Hospice and Palliative Care Chaplain

Board Certified Hospice and Palliative Care Chaplain is a credential that recognizes the specialized training and experience of chaplains who work in hospice and palliative care settings. This certification is awarded by the Association of Professional Chaplains (APC) and requires an application process, including an examination.

The certification process takes approximately three to six months, depending on how quickly you can complete the required paperwork and pass the exam. To become board certified, applicants must meet certain educational requirements, have at least two years of experience as a chaplain in a hospice or palliative care setting, provide letters of reference from supervisors or colleagues, submit a professional portfolio demonstrating their skillset, and pass a written exam.

The cost for Board Certification in Hospice and Palliative Care Chaplaincy is $350 for APC members and $450 for non-members. Additionally, there are fees associated with the application process such as background checks ($50) and reference forms ($25).

2. Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) Certification

Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) Certification is a program designed to provide professional training for pastoral counselors, chaplains, and other spiritual care providers. It is an interfaith program that combines theological education with clinical experience in order to help individuals develop their skills as spiritual caregivers. CPE is typically offered through accredited seminaries and universities, as well as hospitals, hospices, and other healthcare organizations.

Typically, CPE programs require at least 400 hours of supervised clinical practice over the course of one year or more. This includes both direct patient care and reflective supervision with a qualified supervisor. The curriculum also includes didactic instruction in theology, psychology, ethics, and pastoral care theory.

In order to become certified in CPE, individuals must complete an accredited program and pass a board-approved assessment exam. Depending on the program chosen, certification can take anywhere from one to three years to obtain.

The cost of CPE certification varies depending on the institution offering the program. Generally speaking, it can range from $1,000-$5,000 for tuition alone; however this does not include additional costs such as books or travel expenses associated with attending classes or clinical placements.

3. Certified Thanatologist (CT) Certification

Certified Thanatologist (CT) Certification is a professional credential awarded by the Association for Death Education and Counseling (ADEC). The CT certification is designed to recognize individuals who have demonstrated mastery of knowledge and skills in death, dying, grief, bereavement, and end-of-life care.

To become certified as a CT, applicants must meet certain educational and experience requirements. Applicants must have an advanced degree in thanatology or a related field, such as psychology, counseling, social work or nursing; at least two years of professional experience working with death and dying issues; and completion of at least 15 hours of continuing education specific to death education/thanatology within the past five years.

In addition to meeting the educational and experience requirements, applicants must also pass an examination administered by ADEC. The exam consists of multiple-choice questions that assess knowledge in areas such as grief counseling techniques, end-of-life care, cultural perspectives on death and dying, ethical considerations in death education/thanatology practice, legal issues related to death/dying/bereavement, research methods in thanatology, etc.

The cost for taking the CT exam is $250 for members of ADEC ($300 for non-members). Once you have passed the exam you will be awarded the Certified Thanatologist (CT) credential. The certification is valid for five years from the date it was earned. After five years you will need to renew your certification by submitting proof of continuing education credits related to thanatology topics.

Overall it typically takes about one year to complete all the requirements for becoming a Certified Thanatologist (CT).

4. National Association of Catholic Chaplains (NACC) Certification

The National Association of Catholic Chaplains (NACC) is a professional organization that provides certification for Catholic chaplains. The NACC certification program is designed to ensure that chaplains have the necessary knowledge, skills, and abilities to provide spiritual care in a variety of settings.

In order to become certified by the NACC, applicants must meet certain educational and experience requirements. Applicants must have a master’s degree in theology or ministry from an accredited institution and at least two years of supervised clinical pastoral experience. In addition, applicants must complete an approved course in spiritual care and pass the NACC certification exam.

The NACC certification process typically takes 6-12 months to complete. During this time, applicants must submit their application materials, including transcripts, letters of recommendation, and proof of clinical pastoral experience. Once all materials are received and approved by the NACC board of directors, applicants can register for the certification exam.

The cost of obtaining NACC certification varies depending on the applicant’s educational background and experience level. Generally speaking, it costs approximately $1,000-$2,000 to become certified by the NACC. This includes fees for application processing, exam registration, and continuing education requirements.

5. American Academy of Bereavement (AAB) Certification

The American Academy of Bereavement (AAB) Certification is a professional certification program for bereavement counselors and professionals. It is designed to provide recognition to those who have achieved a high level of competency in the field of bereavement counseling. The AAB Certification program was developed by the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) in partnership with the Association for Death Education and Counseling (ADEC).

The AAB Certification requires applicants to complete an online application, pass an exam, and complete continuing education requirements. Applicants must also demonstrate experience in providing bereavement services. The exam consists of 100 questions covering topics such as grief theory, death education, psychological aspects of grief, and practical skills for working with grieving individuals.

It typically takes about 6-9 months to complete the AAB Certification process. After completing all requirements, applicants will receive a certificate from the NFDA that recognizes their achievement as an AAB Certified Professional.

The cost of obtaining the AAB Certification varies depending on the applicant’s experience level and any additional courses or materials they may need to purchase. The average cost ranges from $500-$1,000 USD.

6. National Association of Jewish Chaplains (NAJC) Certification

The National Association of Jewish Chaplains (NAJC) is a professional organization dedicated to providing certification, education and advocacy for Jewish chaplains. The NAJC provides certification in three areas: Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE), Spiritual Care, and Jewish End-of-Life Care.

Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) Certification: CPE is an interfaith program that focuses on the development of pastoral skills through supervised clinical practice. It is designed to help chaplains become more effective in their ministry by providing them with the opportunity to develop their skills in a safe environment. The NAJC offers CPE certification for those who have completed an accredited CPE program and met all other requirements. To obtain CPE certification from the NAJC, applicants must submit an application form along with documentation of their educational background, experience, and training. The process typically takes about two months to complete.

Spiritual Care Certification: This certification focuses on developing spiritual care skills through supervised practice and study. It includes courses in pastoral counseling, religious studies, ethics, and other topics related to spiritual caregiving. To obtain this certification from the NAJC, applicants must have completed at least 30 hours of approved coursework or equivalent experience as well as pass an exam administered by the NAJC. The process typically takes about four months to complete.

Jewish End-of-Life Care Certification: This certification focuses on developing end-of-life care skills through supervised practice and study. It includes courses in end-of-life care planning, grief counseling, bereavement support services, ethics, and other topics related to end-of-life caregiving for Jews. To obtain this certification from the NAJC, applicants must have completed at least 30 hours of approved coursework or equivalent experience as well as pass an exam administered by the NAJC. The process typically takes about four months to complete.

The cost for obtaining any of these certifications from the NAJC varies depending on which type you are applying for but generally ranges between $200-$400 USD per certification application fee plus any additional fees associated with taking exams or completing coursework if required for your particular area of focus.

7. International End-of-Life Doula Association (INELDA) Certification

The International End-of-Life Doula Association (INELDA) is a professional organization dedicated to the education, certification, and support of end-of-life doulas. An end-of-life doula provides emotional, physical, and spiritual support to people who are facing death or those who are grieving. They provide comfort and companionship during a time of loss, helping individuals find peace and acceptance.

INELDA offers a certification program for end-of-life doulas that includes both online courses and in-person training. The online courses cover topics such as grief counseling, communication skills, cultural competency, self-care for the doula, and more. The in-person training consists of two days of hands-on practice with experienced end-of-life doulas.

To become certified by INELDA, applicants must complete the online courses and attend the two day in person training session. Upon successful completion of these requirements, applicants will receive their INELDA certification.

The cost for INELDA certification is $750 USD which covers the cost of the online courses as well as the in person training session.

8. Association of Professional Chaplains (APC) Certification

The Association of Professional Chaplains (APC) is a professional organization that provides certification for chaplains. The APC certification is a voluntary credential that demonstrates an individual’s commitment to the highest standards of professional chaplaincy.

The process of obtaining APC certification typically takes between one and two years, depending on the individual's prior experience and education. The first step in this process is to complete an application form, which includes providing documentation of education, training, and experience in the field of chaplaincy. After submitting the application, individuals must then pass a written examination administered by the APC. Once all requirements are met, applicants can be approved for certification.

The cost for APC certification varies depending on the applicant's educational background and experience. Generally speaking, it costs around $300-$400 for initial application fees plus additional fees for exams and other materials.

Overall, becoming certified through the Association of Professional Chaplains is a rigorous process that requires dedication and commitment from those seeking to become certified chaplains. It is important to note that while APC certification may be beneficial in some circumstances, it is not required in order to practice as a chaplain in most settings.

9. Spiritual Care Association (SCA) Certificate in Spiritual Care

The Spiritual Care Association (SCA) Certificate in Spiritual Care is a professional certification program designed to equip spiritual care providers with the knowledge and skills necessary to effectively provide spiritual care. The program is offered through the SCA, an international, interdenominational organization that promotes excellence in spiritual care.

The SCA Certificate in Spiritual Care consists of five courses: Foundations of Spiritual Care, Clinical Practice of Spiritual Care, Professional Practice of Spiritual Care, Research & Evaluation in Spiritual Care, and Leadership in Spiritual Care. The courses are offered online and can be completed at your own pace. Each course takes approximately 10-12 hours to complete.

In order to receive the certificate, you must successfully complete all five courses as well as pass a final exam. Upon successful completion of the program, you will be awarded a certificate from the SCA that recognizes your achievement in providing quality spiritual care.

The cost for the SCA Certificate in Spiritual Care varies depending on the number of courses taken and whether or not you are an SCA member. For non-members, each course costs $150; for members, each course costs $100. The total cost for completing all five courses is $750 for non-members and $500 for members.

Overall, the SCA Certificate in Spiritual Care provides a comprehensive education on providing quality spiritual care services and is recognized by many employers as an indication of professional competence.

10. National Institute for Jewish Hospice and Palliative Care Chaplaincy Training Program

The National Institute for Jewish Hospice and Palliative Care Chaplaincy Training Program is a comprehensive, intensive training program designed to prepare chaplains to provide spiritual care to individuals, families, and communities facing serious illness and end-of-life issues. This program is offered as a three-year curriculum and includes both didactic instruction and supervised clinical experience. The program is open to rabbis, cantors, social workers, mental health professionals, pastoral counselors, and other health care professionals who have an interest in providing spiritual care in the hospice or palliative setting.

The program consists of three levels: Basic Level (Year 1), Advanced Level (Year 2), and Clinical Level (Year 3). During each year of the program, participants are required to complete coursework in topics such as death & dying; grief & bereavement; spirituality & faith; communication skills; cultural competency; ethics & law; family dynamics; psycho-social aspects of illness; medical aspects of illness; interdisciplinary team collaboration; chaplaincy roles & responsibilities; self-care & supervision. In addition to the didactic instruction, participants must also complete a minimum of 300 hours of supervised clinical experience in hospice or palliative settings during each year of the program.

The cost for the entire three-year training program is $5,000.00 USD. To apply for this program, applicants must submit an application form along with all required documents (resume/CV, letter(s) of recommendation from professional colleagues or supervisors). Once accepted into the program, applicants will be assigned an individual mentor who will guide them through their studies over the course of three years.

Do You Really Need a Hospice Chaplain Certificate?

The short answer is that it depends on your individual situation. If you are looking to become a hospice chaplain, then yes, having a certificate can be beneficial. It can demonstrate your knowledge and competency in the field and help you stand out when applying for positions. It may also provide you with access to specialized training or resources which could be useful in your work as a chaplain.

However, if you are already working as a chaplain and just want to expand your knowledge, experience and qualifications, then getting a hospice chaplain certificate may not be necessary. There are various other ways to gain additional skills and understanding of the role of the chaplain within the hospice setting without formally enrolling in a course or program. You could look into taking other courses related to death and dying, bereavement counselling or pastoral care, reading literature on the subject or attending conferences related to end-of-life issues. Additionally, many hospices offer volunteer opportunities where you can gain valuable experience while also providing much needed support to those facing terminal illness.

Ultimately, whether or not you need a hospice chaplain certificate will depend on what it is that you hope to achieve in pursuing further education in this area. If the goal is to become certified as a hospice chaplain then obtaining such certification would certainly be beneficial; however if this is not an immediate requirement there are still many other ways of gaining knowledge and experience which may be equally as effective.

Related: Hospice Chaplain Resume Examples

FAQs About Hospice Chaplain Certifications

Q1: How do I become a hospice chaplain?

A1: To become a hospice chaplain, you must first earn a bachelor's degree in theology, religious studies, pastoral counseling or a related field. After obtaining your degree, you will need to complete additional certifications and training specific to hospice chaplaincy.

Q2: What qualifications are necessary for becoming a certified hospice chaplain?

A2: The requirements vary by state and organization; however, most require completion of an accredited chaplaincy program as well as certification from either the Association of Professional Chaplains (APC) or National Association of Catholic Chaplains (NACC). You may also need to pass an exam and/or complete continuing education courses.

Q3: Is there any special training required for hospice chaplain certification?

A3: Yes. Hospice chaplains must complete specialized training in end-of-life care and bereavement support. This includes understanding the physical, emotional, spiritual and social needs of those facing terminal illness or death, as well as their families.

Q4: How long does it take to become certified as a hospice chaplain?

A4: The amount of time needed to become certified varies depending on the individual’s background and the organization providing the certification. Generally speaking, it can take anywhere from one year to several years depending on experience level and educational attainment.

Q5: Are there any professional benefits associated with becoming a certified hospice chaplain?

A5: Yes! Becoming certified as a hospice chaplain can open up many career opportunities such as working in hospitals, nursing homes and other health care facilities. Additionally, having this certification can help strengthen resumes when applying for jobs in medical settings and demonstrate commitment to professional development in this field.