Becoming a humanist celebrant

Click here for course fees and dates 

The BHA’s Humanist Ceremonies™ network consists of trained and accredited celebrants in England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and the Channel Islands.

Our celebrants are men and women from all walks of life. Some conduct our full range of ceremonies – funerals, memorials, weddings, partnerships, and namings. Others choose to conduct just one kind of ceremony. Some manage to combine being a humanist celebrant with full-time work. Many are people who find themselves busier than ever in ‘semi-retirement’. Others combine their work as celebrants with their work as parents or carers, or as part of their freelancing ‘portfolio’. All of them find being a celebrant deeply rewarding.

Our priority is to develop our network of celebrants throughout England, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Channel Islands so that we can meet the increasing need of all those who would like to have a humanist ceremony

Who are we looking for?

When we consider applications to become a BHA celebrant, we select people who have:

A commitment to Humanism. You need to have a clear understanding and a strong commitment to the underlying principles of Humanism. If you are not already a member of the BHA, you’ll be expected to join.

Finely-tuned, highly developed interpersonal skills. You need to be open-minded and able to work with people from a wide variety of backgrounds, with an ability to inspire confidence and a sense of ease. If you apply for funeral training, you’ll need to be prepared to work compassionately with recently bereaved families experiencing shock and grief. You’ll also need to liaise well with other people and professionals connected with the ceremony you are conducting – other family members, funeral directors, crematoria staff, hoteliers, etc.

Good interviewing and writing skills. You need to be an excellent questioner and listener, drawing out from people salient facts which you can then turn into an accurate, memorable, even inspirational ceremony script. Your use of English needs to be immaculate. It helps to have a love of poetry, prose and music.

Good organisational skills. You need to be punctual, well-organised and to manage your time and diary well. You must be able to work to tight deadlines. You must be IT literate to the extent that you can produce ceremony scripts on your own computer and use email effectively.

Excellent presentation skills. You must be prepared to look smart and to assume the presence and authority to take charge of proceedings. You’ll need to be able to deal calmly with the unexpected and to put people who are nervous or anxious at ease. You need to be an assured and confident public speaker.

High standards. Each ceremony you conduct will be unique. Each ceremony will be one of the most important events in the lives of the people concerned. You will often be dealing with people who are highly emotionally charged. You will be expected to deliver something exceptional. So, it follows that you will need to be an exceptional person, always determined to give your best.

Basic equipment. You’ll need your own computer, phone, and answering machine and your own means of transport.

What does the training and accreditation involve?

Humanist Ceremonies™ makes no apology for setting the highest standards for our accredited celebrants. Bereaved people are vulnerable; the expectations of couples making their commitment public are high; the significance of a new arrival in a family is great. We cannot provide anything that is even in the slightest inadequate.

To become a celebrant you will need to:

  • Read the training information guidelines (PDF).
  • Complete and return an electronic application form. If you are already practising as a celebrant and wish to apply to join the Humanist Ceremonies network, please email us and we will send you an alternative application form.
  • Be interviewed by telephone by our Assessor (if your application is successful).
  • Be prepared to pay the course fee. There is a non-refundable deposit of £500 required four weeks prior to Induction. The remaining balance is made in one lump sum or three equal instalments. These will be required before the start of each stage of training.
  • 2016/17 fees: Weddings training: £1,920 inclusive of VAT; Funerals training: £1,920 inclusive of VAT; Namings training: £1,150 inclusive of VAT.

Once you are accepted for training and have signed up for your course you will be expected to attend either three sessions (for Funerals and Weddings) or two sessions (for Namings), with each session spread roughly a month apart. Unfortunately we cannot always allocate trainees to their first choice of course dates, as we may need to prioritise under-represented areas. However, we endeavour to offer a training place to all successful applicants as soon as possible.

For our Weddings and our Funerals trainees, each course comprises:

  • Stage 1: Induction – one day.
  • Stage 2: General Skills – two days and one overnight residential.
  • Stage 3: Technical Training – two days and one overnight residential.

For our Namings trainees, Stages 2 and 3 are combined.

What’s in it for you?

An occupation which is challenging, rewarding, inspiring and fulfils your values. The ceremonies you conduct will make a real, memorable difference to your clients.

An income. As soon as you receive your probationary accreditation from the BHA you can charge a fee, plus your expenses, for each ceremony you conduct. Humanist Ceremonies™ fee bands are recommended annually by the BHA.

A sense of belonging and participation. To remain an accredited celebrant within the BHA’s Humanist Ceremonies™ network you will be expected to pay an annual accreditation fee and a quarterly levy on the fees you receive. You will also be expected to maintain a high standard in the ceremonies you provide.

The levies cover your insurance, branded business cards, and personal stationery and are reinvested to help fund the organisation, promotion and growth of Humanist Ceremonies™. You can benefit from the support and experience of other celebrants via local groups, the celebrants’ discussion forum on this website or via newsletters, training sessions and events such as the Humanist Ceremonies™ annual conference.

And, as a BHA member, you will be participating in the BHA’s important work to promote Humanism and to help redress the inequality and injustice caused by religious partiality in our legal, social, and political frameworks.

If you would like to apply for training to become a BHA celebrant, please complete and submit an application form when applications open. If you are already practising as a celebrant and wish to apply to join the Humanist Ceremonies network, please email us and we will send you an alternative application form.

Further information about training

If you have any further enquiries please email training@humanism.org.uk.

If you would like to train as a humanist celebrant in Scotland, please contact the Humanist Society Scotland.