For those who feel called to work in theology and ministry, finding a career that pays enough to support a family can be a primary concern. Fortunately, there are plenty of religious jobs that allow one to serve one’s church community, while also supporting themselves and their dependents. Keep scrolling for the 30 highest paying jobs in theology and ministry.
Topping our list of the highest paying jobs in theology and ministry is rector. Most often found within the Roman Catholic Church and the Episcopal church, rectors hold the office of presiding over an ecclesiastical institution such as a parish or university. Though tasks vary based on what it is over which a rector presides, typical responsibilities include:
- shaping and developing the stated vision of a parish
- hiring staff
- developing stewardship, among other things
According to PayScale, the average salary of a rector is just under $72,000 per year. A similar job title is that of Executive Pastor, which averages about $64,000 per year.
2. Executive Director of a Non-Profit Organization
The second highest paying job in ministry is that of executive director of a non-profit organization, which includes religious charities and other organizations. As the equivalent of CEO, an executive director is responsible for all daily operations. Responsibilities include:
- communicating closely with the board of directors
- ensuring the organization maintains its vision
- overseeing everything from fundraising to marketing
According to PayScale, the average executive director of a non-profit makes about $67,000 per year.
3. Senior Pastor
Third on our list of the best paying religious jobs is senior pastor. Senior pastors serve as a church’s chief administrator and oversee all administrative functions. Typical responsibilities of a senior pastor include:
- planning weekly worship services
- conducting weddings and funerals
- building a relationship between the church and the surrounding community
According to PayScale, the average salary of a senior pastor is just over $60,000 per year.
4. Pastoral Care Head
Fourth on our list of the highest paying careers in ministry is the head of pastoral care. This person is typically employed by religious congregations, hospitals, nursing homes, and schools. A pastoral care head is the person who builds the spiritual and emotional well-being of a group of people. Responsibilities usually include:
- providing group and one-on-one support
- ensuring individuals have access to support and resources that align with their religious values
- conducting crisis interventions, among other things
According to PayScale, a pastoral care head makes an average annual salary of just over $55,000.
5. Charity Fundraiser
Charity fundraisers can work for churches, religious organizations, or non-profits. These well-paid workers are employed to establish and maintain relationships between the aforementioned organizations and donors. Typical responsibilities include:
- planning donation campaigns and events
- preparing materials like fundraising envelopes
- maintaining donor databases, to name but a few
According to PayScale, the average salary of a charity fundraiser is $55,000 per year.
Though titles vary by denomination, ministers, pastors, and priests make up the next spot on our list of the best paying jobs in theology and ministry. Generally speaking, a minister, pastor, or priest is responsible for providing their community with spiritual and religious support. Specific tasks include:
- delivering sermons during church services
- speaking during memorial services and community events
- meeting one-on-one with members of the church
According to PayScale, ministers average about $50,930 per year, while pastors and priests average $49,774 and $42,919 per year, respectively.
7. Social Media Ministry
As more and more churches and religious organizations realize the value of social media, the role of social media ministry has become one of the best paying jobs in ministry. As in any industry, social media ministry involves communicating to community members, donors, and potential converts via social media pages, websites, and profiles. Typical tasks include:
- responding to social media inquiries and concerns
- posting on behalf of their organization
- keeping followers aware of upcoming events
According to PayScale, the average salary of someone working in social media ministry is just under $51,000 per year.
Next on our list of the best paying religious jobs is the chaplain. They are most often employed by hospitals, healthcare facilities, and the military. Chaplains provide comfort and religious counseling to patients and their families. Typical responsibilities include:
- conducting worship and administering sacraments
- conducting seminars and retreats
- visiting with patients or service members
According to PayScale, the average annual salary of a chaplain is $55,330.
Though it’s not one of the most common jobs, one of the best paying jobs in theology is that of archivist. Archivists are usually employed by museums and other organizations which work with historical documents. Their tasks include organizing and collecting data on:
- historical document manuscripts
According to PayScale, the average annual salary of an archivist is just under $50,000.
10. Marriage/Family Counselor
Marriage and family counselors hold the #10 spot on our list of the best paying jobs in theology and ministry. People often seek out professionals who share their faith. There is a strong need for counselors who can meet personally with couples and families to discuss a variety of issues. Typical responsibilities include:
- working closely with patients
- offering guidance
According to PayScale, the average annual salary of a marriage and family counselor is just under $50,000.
11. Associate Pastor
The next career on our list of the best paying theology and ministry jobs is that of associate pastor. Most often found within very large congregations, the associate pastor works alongside the senior pastor. Thus, typical tasks include:
- helping to lead worship services
- interacting with the local community
- running weekly activities like Bible study and fellowship
According to PayScale, associate professors make an average annual salary of about $48,000.
12. Social Worker
Individuals of faith are often drawn to the role of social worker, a career which happens to be the 12th highest paid job in ministry. Social workers work closely with patients and their families to assess and treat issues ranging from living arrangements to access to resources. Typical responsibilities include:
- implementing patient treatment plans
- advocating for patients’ overall well being
- responding to patients in crisis situations
According to PayScale, social workers make an average annual salary of just over $47,000.
One of the most sought after jobs in ministry is that of missionary. Career missionaries usually live away from their home country in order to convert others to their religion. Tasks vary by mission, but typically include:
- organizing public demonstrations
- speaking with people one-on-one
- running religious organizations or services
According to PayScale, the average annual salary of a missionary is $44,566.
14. Program Coordinator for Non-Profit
Because there exist hundreds of religious non-profit organizations, program coordinator makes our list of the best paying jobs in ministry. Program coordinators typically act as “the face” of their charitable organization. Responsibilities include:
- planning and supervising budgets
- making hiring decisions
- organization functions and fundraisers,
- working directly with the population the organization serves
According to PayScale, the average annual salary of a program coordinator for a non-profit is $43,381.
15. Primary School Teacher
A great well-paying job for anyone interested in a career in ministry is that of primary school teacher in a Christian school. Primary school teachers instruct children in grades one through five, or between the ages of six and 11 years old. Responsibilities include:
- putting together curriculum
- running a classroom
- teaching lessons
- meeting with parents
According to PayScale, the average annual salary for a primary school teacher is just over $43,000.
16. Preschool Director
Many parents seek out preschools specific to their religious beliefs or denominations. For that reason, preschool director takes the #16 spot on our list of the best paying jobs in ministry. Generally, preschool directors manage the everyday activities of a preschool. Specific duties include:
- acting as the point of contact for all employees and parents
- overseeing budgets and policies
- ensuring that the school is complying with all state and federal laws
According to PayScale, preschool directors can expect to make an average of about $42,000 per year.
17. Director of Youth and College Ministries
Seventeenth on our list of the top jobs in ministry is director of youth and college ministries. Those holding this unique job are mainly responsible for coordinating all religious activities of a church, high school, or college or university. Directors of youth and college ministries are typically tasked with:
- leading religious programs and events
- managing the student ministry budget
- working to increase student involvement in activities, among other things
According to PayScale, the average annual salary of a director of youth and college ministries is just over $41,000.
18. Ministry Director
The 18th job on our list of the highest paying jobs in ministry and theology is that of ministry director. Generally speaking, ministry directors are responsible for overseeing and running a church’s children’s and youth programs. Specific tasks include:
- making curriculum decisions
- hiring Sunday childcare workers
- conducting administrative duties
According to PayScale, the average salary of a ministry director is just under $41,000.
19. Church Administrator
Nineteenth on our list of the best paying ministry jobs is church administrator. Church administrators ensure that their church operates in the most efficient way possible by running the day-to-day operations. Typical responsibilities of a church administrator include:
- working with church leadership to ensure initiatives can be funded responsibly
- overseeing the production of bulletins and other outreach material
- recruiting members of the congregation into volunteer positions
According to PayScale, the average annual salary of a church administrator is just under $38,000.
20. Music Director
Music director holds the #20 spot on our list of the best paying ministry jobs. Music directors are employed by churches to organize and oversee the entire music program. Though responsibilities vary from church to church, typical tasks may include:
- conducting a choir or orchestra
- planning and preparing appropriate music
- holding auditions
- ensuring all copyright laws are followed
According to PayScale, music directors may expect to make an average annual salary of just under $40,000.
21. Religious Education Director
The 21st best paying ministry jobs is religious education director. Usually employed by religious schools, religious education directors are in charge of coordinating religious events and activities. Other tasks include:
- providing students with counseling on religious and family issues
- serving as role models and family-like figures
- handling administrative details
According to PayScale, religious education directors make an average annual salary of just over $39,000.
22. Youth Pastor
Youth pastors also make our list of the top paid religious careers. Employed by churches to serve under the supervision of the senior pastor, youth pastors are responsible for implementing a youth ministry. Though they may work with younger children, most of a youth pastor’s tasks involve young people of high school and college age. According to PayScale, the average salary of a youth pastor is $38,541 per year.
23. Church Youth Director
Similar to the youth pastors, youth directors are employed by churches and tasked with developing programs aimed at children and young adults. Specific tasks include:
- developing lesson plans for Sunday school and Bible study
- organizing retreats and special events
- working one-on-one with children and families in need of a little extra support
According to PayScale, church youth directors make an average annual salary of $35,664.
24. Children’s Ministry Director
Like youth directors, children’s ministry directors are also some of the best paid church employees. As their title implies, children’s ministry directors oversee the ministry for children ages nursery through elementary. Typical tasks include:
- developing lesson plans and sermons
- maintaining a careful budget,
- setting up special outreach events such as Easter egg hunts and Christmas festivities
According to PayScale, children’s ministry directors can expect to make an average of $35,000 per year.
25. Director of Music Ministry
Those with a love of music who are searching for a career in ministry would do well to consider the role of director of music ministry. Music ministry directors are responsible for all of the music in a church setting. Responsibilities include :
- recruiting a team of singers and musicians
- directing rehearsals and performances
- overseeing an annual music budget
According to PayScale, directors of music ministry typically average about $33,000 per year.
26. Preschool Teacher
Preschool teachers at religious and/or church-affiliated preschools can expect to make about $32,000 per year, according to PayScale. These important ministers typically work with children ages two to five, engaging them in fun, yet educational activities. Day-to-day activities often include:
- singing songs
- leading children in simple art projects.
27. Worship Coordinator
Twenty-seventh on our list of the highest paid church employees is the worship coordinator. Employed by churches, worship coordinators oversee all of the different people who participate in worship services. Responsibilities include:
- scheduling services
- filling the roles of ushers and other volunteers
- overseeing the overall sound of a church service
PayScale reports that the average annual salary of a worship coordinator is just over $31,000.
28. Church Secretary
Church secretaries are the administrative assistants of pastors and other church leaders. They help run the day-to-day of a church, with typical tasks:
- like creating documents
- answering phone calls and emails
- collecting and distributing information from any church-affiliated groups
The role of church secretary is often part-time and paid hourly, but PayScale reports that the average church secretary makes about $27,000 per year.
29. Church Choir Director
Twenty-ninth on our list of the highest paid jobs in theology and ministry is church choir director. Usually a part-time job, a church choir director is the leader of the church choir. Responsibilities vary, but can consist of:
- managing the choir’s annual budget
- providing voice lessons to choir members
- leading choral singers during performances
According to PayScale, the average annual salary of a church choir director is about $20,000.
30. Church Organist
Integral to many church services is the church organist, who is responsible for playing the organ during Sunday church services, weddings, funerals, and other events. Typical tasks of a church organist include:
- collaborating with the music director to choose hymns
- accompanying the church choir
- playing throughout a service
According to PayScale, a church organist makes an average of about $18,000 per year in this part-time position.
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