SERVICE - How to Become a Chaplain


​To provide spiritual leadership and ministry that enriches the lives of California's armed forces, families, and local and global communities in support of the free exercise of religion in peace, disaster, and war.

​Chaplain and Chaplain Candidate Eligibility Requirements


In addition to general officer eligibility, in order to qualify as a National Guard Chaplain, you’ll need to obtain a federally recognized ecclesiastical endorsement from your denomination or faith group certifying that you:

  • Are less than 45 years of age if not prior service (less than 47 with prior service)
  • Are qualified spiritually, morally, intellectually and emotionally
  • Possess a Bachelor's degree (not less than 120 semester hours)
  • Possess an accredited Master's degree of not less than 72 semester hours (36 semester hours must be in Theology)
  • Be endorsed by a recognized endorsing agency on DD Form 2088 (Statement of Ecclesiastical Endorsement) to serve as a military chaplain
  • Are sensitive to religious pluralism and able to provide for the free exercise of religion by all military personnel and their Family members 

Chaplain Candidates

In addition to general officer eligibility, to qualify as a Chaplain Candidate, you'll need to obtain an ecclesiastical approval from your denomination or faith group certifying that you:

  • Are enrolled in or accepted into an accredited graduate program
  • Are less than 36 years of age at commissioning
  • Are a full-time student working toward a graduate degree in Theology consisting of 72 or more hours
  • Posses a Bachelor degree of 120 semester hours, 180 quarter hours
  • Be approved by a recognized endorsing agency to serve as a military chaplain candidate

Training for Chaplains and Chaplain Candidates

When you join the Guard as a Chaplain, you’ll be a commissioned officer. If you join prior to your ordination, you will enter as a Chaplain Candidate. In either case, you’ll attend the Chaplain Officer Basic Leadership Course (CH-BOLC), where you'll learn fundamental military tasks and how to perform religious duties in a military environment. The three-month course can be completed in one block or in several phases over a 24-month period. CH-BOLC consists of three segments:

Chaplain Initial Military Training: In this four-week resident course, you’ll learn core non-combatant skills such as map reading, military customs and courtesies, operations in field conditions and combat survival.

Phase I: In this two-week course you'll learn Army writing and correspondence.

Phase II and III: Two three-week courses will train you in Army-specific Chaplain duties and applying your civilian skills to the National Guard environment.

Additional Information

Pay and Incentives

Your pay will depend on your rank, and the higher you go, the more you’ll earn. Since you’ll be starting as an officer, you’ll earn excellent pay—especially for part-time service.

Chaplain and Chaplain Candidates additional incentives:

See National Guard Chaplain Recruiting Website for current incentives:

Special Branch Officer General Eligibility Requirements:

  • Meet the prescribed medical and moral standards for appointment as a commissioned officer
  • Be a United States citizen
  • Have completed an accredited qualifying degree program
  • Be 21 years of age
  • Be able to obtain a secret security clearance

All Special Branch Officers Other Benefits

  • Medical and dental care for you and your Family (Tri-Care Reserve Select)
  • Up to $400,000 in low-cost life insurance
  • Discounted and Tax-Free grocery and shopping privileges at post exchanges and commissaries
  • Free Military Air flights based on space availability
  • Free academic testing and counseling for spouse
  • Access to recreational facilities on military installations
  • A retirement pension plan at the completion of 20 years of part-time service
  • Chaplain Loan Repayment Program ($20,000 paid over three years) or an Officer Accession Bonus $10,000 (paid upon completion of CHBOLC)

Service Pages

Points of Contact

For more information contact the California National Chaplain Recruiter:
(916) 854-1341

The State Chaplain
Office of the Adjutant General:Special Staff:The State Chaplain