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2. Hospice Chaplain

The nitty-gritty: Chaplains are a source of solace and support for patients with terminal illnesses and their families. Chaplains typically work with medical staff and outside clergy to offer spiritual comfort to patients with seriously advanced illnesses. Covered under Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurance plans, hospice care is a swiftly growing area in the health care field. This job is so vital that the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services requires all hospice centers that receive reimbursements from the agency to employ a hospice chaplain or a pastoral or spiritual counselor. About 1.65 million people received new or continuing hospice care in 2011, more than twice as many as did a decade ago, according to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. As demand for hospice care has increased, so have the number of programs nationwide. Today, there are about 5,300 providers, up from about 3,300 five years ago. Providers include home health agencies, independent hospice facilities, nursing homes and hospitals. Hours tend to be flexible with weekends and evenings to be expected. A sympathetic ear is precious in the final days of someone's life. This is a position that's far more than a paycheck.

Median clergy pay: $23.31 per hour

Qualifications: This is a fairly unregulated field. Even under the government regulatory language that stipulates that a hospice receiving government funding have a spiritual counselor, it does not specify the qualifications of this position, other than that the professional must be competent to function in that role. Hospice chaplains can be ordained clergy or simply a hospice-trained individual who has experience in spiritual support. Many hospice providers require a bachelor's degree in religious studies. Others require a master's degree in counseling, divinity, theology, social work, psychotherapy, psychology or pastoral counseling. For more information, contact the NHPCO or the Association of Professional Chaplains, which certifies health care chaplains. Check for job listings at local hospices, or on the big job boards such as careerbuilder.com and simplyhired.com.

Next page: Jobs as care aides go up to $35-plus an hour. »

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