With respect to the United States, certification seems to go through BCCI
As part of their prerequisites, there are 72 education credits required in theological/pastoral studies. A paper (Equivalency Issues
for Buddhist Candidates for Board Certification Through the Board of Chaplaincy Certification Inc. - A White Paper) was put together to address a certain issue:
Buddhist education and training varies widely between schools (denominations) of Buddhism, and even within schools, between lineages of teachers. (A lineage comprises teachers who can trace their tradition back to the historical Buddha, and who have developed distinctive practices and training styles.) Variations pertinent to the Commission on Certification range from an anti-intellectualism that favors monastic spiritual experience over academic study, to westernized degree programs.
These extremes in Buddhist educational traditions prove challenging for the Commission’s Theological Education Equivalency Committee. The purpose of the Theological Education Equivalency Committee is to
evaluate the education of candidates who have not earned 72 credits in theological and pastoral studies from a graduate school accredited by a member organization of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation
The committee chair has asked six the Buddhist board certified chaplain (BCC) members of APC to recommend to the committee wise ways for evaluating Buddhist candidates who have not earned the required 72 credits. The six Buddhist chaplains represent the following Buddhist traditions: Rinzai Zen, Soto Zen, Jodo Shinshu (Pure Land), Tibetan and Theravada.
The seven responses demonstrated a great deal of consensus, with most affirming the need for the nine core graduate theological subjects, affirming the need for an undergraduate bachelor’s degree, and minimizing the educational value of meditation and chanting. While these chaplains did not always agree with each other or with my recommendations, they graciously and kindly expressed their reasoning from their understanding and historical perspectives. Two of the Buddhist BCCs have agreed to join the Theological Education Equivalency Committee as regular reviewers and “resident subject-matter experts” for consultation when any member of the Committee is reviewing an application from a Buddhist candidate.
For the most part, the ordination requirement for chaplains seems to be filled from Zen ranks, with some Tibetan and other Mahayana schools filling in the bulk of the remainder; is there any provision in Theravada for providing an ordination status of some kind which is appropriate to chaplains?