FAQ: How Much Do Ministry Workers Make?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published April 8, 2022

People who pursue careers in ministry are typically encouraged by a strong attachment to their religion and a sense of responsibility to the other members of their congregation. There are various opportunities to serve their communities in this line of work. If you're interested in becoming a ministry worker, you may be interested in the salary these workers typically earn. In this article, we discuss what a ministry worker is, what their average salary is, what ministry jobs pay the most and what factors may affect your salary as a ministry worker.

Read more: How To Pursue a Ministry Career: A Complete Guide

What is a ministry worker?

A ministry worker provides spiritual guidance to members of their congregation. They're members of the clergy for a Christian denomination and minister to the people of their church. A ministry worker may also travel to nursing homes or hospitals, depending on the needs of their congregation. They may also lead a prayer in religious or non-religious groups like school graduations or memorials. A ministry worker may work in any of the following denominations:

  • Protestant

  • Catholic

  • Lutheran

  • Presbyterian

  • Baptist

  • Episcopal

Depending on the ministry worker's position, they may write sermons that they perform in front of groups. They can lead study groups to provide additional religious education to adults and the youth in their congregation. Some ministry workers may perform more administrative tasks, organizing travel and networking with other organizations to set up charities and organize mission trips. They may also work to set up services for members of their congregation by coordinating support groups, job services and support for the elderly and disabled in their community.

Read more: FAQ: What Can You Do With a Christian Ministry Degree?

What is a ministry worker's average salary?

A ministry worker makes a national average salary of $44,898 per year. The average salary is reflective of the missionary work associated with the profession. Many people who work in ministry join the profession because they feel called through their religion to minister to members of their congregation.

However, the average salary of a ministry worker can rely on various other factors, one of which is location. For example, if you're a ministry associate in New York City, New York, you may have a higher salary because the average wage in that city is $57,506 per year, which is 28% higher than the national average. In comparison, ministry workers in Weston, West Virginia, make an average of $40,168 per year, 11% below the national average.

Read more: 11 Types of Careers in Ministry (With Salaries and Duties)

Which ministry jobs pay the most?

Here is a list of ministry jobs and their salaries. For the most up-to-date Indeed salaries, please click on the links below:

1. Youth minister

National average salary: $35,590 per year

Primary duties: A youth counselor or youth minister works with children and teenagers to support their religious education. They lead groups where children can discuss their lives and their relationship with their faith with their peers. Many youth ministers may lead youth group trips, supervising the children and teens at camps or field trips. They can also organize various activities like volunteer work and educational outings that adhere to the beliefs and teachings of their faith.

2. Pastor

National average salary: $43,383 per year

Primary duties: A pastor is an ordained clergy member for a Christian denomination other than Catholic. They've often attended seminary school and have taken their oath to uphold and preach the religious tenants they practice. They're responsible for leading the congregation of religious followers through preaching, individual instruction and community outreach. A pastor writes and gives sermons to interpret religious teachings from their scripture to help further their congregations' understanding. They can also counsel church members if they require independent counseling or are in crisis.

3. Chaplain

National average salary: $48,943 per year

Primary duties: A chaplain performs religious rites, conducts worship services and provides counseling to members of their faith. They're typically traveling representations of their religious traditions and can work in hospitals or with officers and other military members stationed in combat environments. They're useful in these unusual locations because they provide religious guidance to members of their congregation who may be unable to attend regular service. They can also perform religious rites in these extreme circumstances, providing a sense of support and reassurance to the people they serve.

4. Director

National average salary: $79,434 per year

Primary duties: A ministry director provides administrative leadership and direction to a church or congregation. They can work with the community to provide programming that aligns with the ministry's goals, like reaching new congregation members or providing essential community services that assist their church members. The director can also be responsible for handling hiring for the church and the financial aspects of running an organization.

5. Missionary

National average salary: $82,968 per year

Primary duties: A missionary is a member of a religious group who travels to promote their faith and provide services to members of another community. They can provide education, literacy, social justice, health care and economic development. Their main goal is to spread their belief system to new communities. They often organize travel and accommodations for themselves, their families and their travel companions. They can also organize and execute educational programs to inform new members about their religion.

Read more: What Can You Do With a Theology Degree? 28 Jobs To Consider

What factors can affect salary for a ministry worker

Your salary as a ministry worker may depend on a few different factors:

  • Congregation size: the larger your church is, the more your salary may be to accommodate the additional work of managing more people. Many churches receive their funding from their congregation, so a larger group of church-goers can result in more funds to pay the church's operational costs, including the salaries of the ministry workers.

  • Gender disparity: Some Christian denominations have restrictions against the roles a woman can hold within the ministry, inhibiting women and men from having the same pay. However, some denominations offer the same job opportunities to any gender.

  • Years of experience: A more experienced ministry worker may be eligible for higher pay than someone who has fewer than five years of experience. With more experience, you can take on more responsibility, working in higher ranking positions like ministry director.

  • Education level: Your education level can affect your salary. If you're working in an administrative role within the ministry, you may have limited opportunities when it comes to advance unless you have a theology or seminary degree as well. Additionally, if you have studied to become a pastor or chaplain, you may have access to more opportunities.

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