Professional Certification for
Church Musicians

The purpose of the Presbyterian Association of Musicians (PAM) Certification is two-fold. It affirms the gained wisdom of a PAM member as a result of their active leadership in the work and mission of the church. In addition, the certification process is an effective educational tool for expanding the musician’s knowledge of both the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and how the music of the church may contribute towards the worship and glorification of God.

Certification is an important step in professional development and recognition within the church. PAM encourages pastors and sessions to support musicians in working towards achieving this goal.

Prior to Application

The following requirements must be completed before applying for certification.

1. The applicant shall hold a current membership in PAM and will continue that membership throughout the certification process.

2. The applicant will have served as a church musician for no less than 3 years.

Certification Process

  1. The applicant will submit the Application, Resumé, and References to the National PAM office.

  2. The National Office will acknowledge the application and verify PAM membership.

  3. The Certification Committee will assign a certified church musician to serve as a guide for the applicant throughout the process.

  4. The applicant will complete sections I – IV under Certification Requirements and submit appropriate documentation as completed throughout the process within five years of the initial application.

  5. All materials will be evaluated by the Certification Committee, another certified member of PAM, and the PAM Executive Director.

  6. Upon successful completion of all requirements, the Certification Committee will recommend the candidate to the PAM Executive Board for final approval.

  7. Once approved, the applicant, the applicant’s pastor, Clerk of Session, and Presbytery will be informed of the awarding of certification.

Certification Resources

Guidelines for the Employment of Church Musicians

Wedding and Funeral Music

Suggested Resources in Church Music and Related Fields

Class Verification Form

Professional Conduct in Adversity: A Guide for Church Musicians

Certification Requirements

Complete Sections I - IV below



SECTION I          The Bible and Reformed Worship


  1. Documented participation in at least 30 hours of workshops or classes that address aspects of creative worship planning and leadership.

    • No more than 15 class hours may be accumulated at one conference

    • Topics studied should include: Hymnology/Psalmody; Book of Common Worship, The Psalter, Presbyterian Hymnals, and use of the lectionary in planning worship

  2. Attendance at worship services and worship discussion sessions at PAM-related conferences.

  3. Participation in a local or online Bible survey course. Disciple Bible Study, Kerygma, or online courses such as the "Be A Disciple" curriculum are recommended, but there are certainly others that will meet this requirement.

  4. An original essay on the subject of “The Role of Music and the Scripture in Reformed Worship”.


SECTION II         Human Faith and Development


  1. Participation in at least five hours of workshops or classes that address aspects of staff relationships, employment in the ministry of music and professional concerns.

  2. Read at least one book in the Music Ministry section of “Suggested Resources in Church Music and Related Fields” (available from the PAM National Office) and write an essay responding to and reflecting on the content of the book selected.

  3. Write an essay describing your role as a church musician as it relates to the wider ministry of the church.


SECTION III         Polity of the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A.


  1. Familiarize yourself with the contents of The Book of Confessions (most current edition) and read the Book of Order, giving particular attention to the Form of Government (G) and the Directory for Worship (W).

  2. Write an essay expressing your understanding of the Presbyterian form of government, of the organization of the local congregation and the lines of authority as your role relates to a particular church.


SECTION IV          Continuing Education in Your Area of Expertise

  1. Participate in at least 15 class hours of workshops in your area of specialization.

  2. Participate in PAM conference activities in your area of specialization.

  3. If possible, participate in a local ensemble.

  4. Demonstrate continued growth in an area of mastery or specialization.

Submission Guidelines

  1. Use the Course Verification Form to document class and worship participation.  The form may be found above in the certification resources section, or by clicking here.

  2. Essays must be original work and should not exceed 1000 words.

G-2.11 Certified Church Service

From the PC(USA) Form of Government, adopted in July 2011.

G-­2.1101   Forms of Certified Church Service

Persons may be certified and called to service within congregations, councils, and church-related entities, serving in staff positions.  These individuals endeavor to reflect their faith through their work and to strengthen the church through their dedication. They should be encouraged by their session and presbytery to meet, or be prepared to meet, the certification requirements in a handbook provided by a national certifying body approved by the General Assembly. Names of those who have earned certification through a national certifying body shall be transmitted to the appropriate body of the General Assembly, which will forward them to the stated clerk of the presbyteries in which those persons labor.


G-­2.1102   Presbytery and Certified Church Service
The presbytery shall encourage sessions to make continuing education funds and time available to those seeking certification, and shall affirm the skill and dedication of these certified persons by providing a service of recognition at the time of certification. The presbytery may grant the privilege of voice at all its meetings to persons in certified church service.

PAM will notify your Pastor, Clerk of Session and Stated Clerk of the Presbytery when certification and renewal are granted.


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