top of page

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

Lines of Authority

by John Sall

Suggested Resources in Church Music and Related Fields

Wedding and Funeral Music

Professional Conduct in Adversity: A Guide for Church Musicians

Class Verification Form

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 worship planning and leadership.

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

· Up to 10 hours may be from non-PAM events.

2. Documented worship attendance at a minimum of two PAM-related conferences.

3. Participate in a local or online Bible survey course (examples include Disciple Bible Study, Opening Doors for Discipleship, and online courses such as the "Be A Disciple"). Or attend three 5-day Bible classes (15 hours) at a PAM-related conference.

4. Write an original essay (not to exceed 1,000 words) on the subject of “The Role of Music and the Scripture in Reformed Worship”.


SECTION II         Human Faith and Development


1. Participate in five hours of workshops or classes that address aspects of staff relationships, employment in the church, and/or 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 or the PAM website) and write an original essay (not to exceed 1000 words) responding to and reflecting on the content of the text selected.

3. Write an original essay (not to exceed 1,000 words) describing your role as a church musician as it relates to your local church.


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


1. Familiarize yourself with the contents of the:

· Book of Confessions

· Book of Order, especially the Form of Government (G) and Directory for Worship (W) sections

· Article Lines of Authority by John Sall

2. Write an original essay (not to exceed 1,000 words) demonstrating your understanding of the Presbyterian form of government, of the organization of the local congregation, and lines of authority within a particular church as it relates to the role of church musician.


SECTION IV          Continuing Education in Your Area of Expertise

1. Participate in 15 class hours of workshops, masterclasses, or ensembles.

· Up to five hours from any one conference performing ensemble may apply towards this requirement.

· Up to five hours may be obtained through non-PAM events, including private instruction.

2. Read a book or article, watch a video, or attend a lecture in the field of music and submit a short, written summary (not to exceed 400 words). Content of the summary should include new learnings and insights gained from the resource.

Submission Guidelines

1. Use course verification forms to document class and worship participation.  Forms may be found on the PAM website, or by clicking here.

2. Essays must be original work and should not exceed 1,000 words.

3. Section IV.2 should not exceed 400 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.


bottom of page