There is no single path for this work.  Much of what you do will depend on your discernment and the needs that exist in the area where you live.  Use this flowchart as a point of departure and research you own path by talking to a variety of chaplains in the various settings where chaplains work.   

Are you a mature, compassionate Buddhist grounded in your particular Buddhist lineage/tradition? Are you drawn to situations and people in crisis and need compassion?

Volunteer as a chaplain in various settings to see if you like the work.  Find an experienced chaplain to supervise and guide you in providing spiritual care to others.

Do you understand, feel committed and comfortable with the Common Standards endorsed by the six largest chaplaincy organizations and 10,000 chaplains?

Common Standards for Professional Chaplaincy

Common Standards for Pastoral Educators/Supervisors

Common Code of Ethics for Chaplains, Pastoral Counselors, Pastoral Educators and Students

Principles for Processing Ethical Complaints

What institutional chaplaincy type is right for you? Talk to various chaplains in different settings.  Shadow these chaplains in their work.

(e.g. prison, hospital, hospice, sangha, social justice, natural disaster, etc.)

Determined whether chaplaincy is your vocation or avocation. (If you want to be paid, it is most likely you will need to be board certified.


              Generally non-paid                                    Generally paid

Seek local training and supervision in selected institution with most senior and skilled chaplain possible.

Pursue and complete Master of Divinity or APC Equivalences for Buddhists.  See  Equivalencies White Paper.

Research, apply and complete

4 units (equals one year) of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) through the Association of Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE)

This is critical if you wish to increase the likelihood of a paid position. 

Complete the APC application, to become a Board Certified Chaplain (BCC). 


Enjoy your chaplaincy work.  Grow in your knowledge and skills, continue your training and help us train other Buddhist Chaplains.