All You Need To Know About A Pastor Career

You think about becoming a pastor but are not entirely sure whether this is the right career for you or not?

Great! Stick with me since you will find everything you need to know about being a clergyman in the following chapters.

Not only will you learn how much you can make as a pastor, but we will also talk a lot about job satisfaction, future outlook, duties, educational requirements, work-life balance and much more.

At the end of this article, you will also find an FAQ section where I answer the most common questions about working as a parson for you.

After reading this article, you will have a much better idea of whether you still want to become a clergy or rather want to go for a different job instead.

Without further ado, let’s get started!

Table of Contents

What does a Pastor do?

Pastors are responsible for leading a congregation.

They organize religious services and make sure that people keep their faith.

They are also responsible to comfort and consult people during difficult periods of their lives when things don’t go as well as planned to provide emotional support.

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Hence, pastors have a pretty important role to lead and support people, not only on a religious and spiritual but also on a personal level.

Responsibilities & Duties of a Pastor

  • Organizing church services
  • Organizing confessions
  • Making sure that parishioners don’t lose their faith
  • Helping parishioners to overcome difficult periods of their lives
  • Helping the church to raise money
  • Educating people about religion
  • Giving people lots of emotional support
  • Spreading the word of god
  • Seeking spiritual advice from a higher power
  • Making sure that people respect religious celebrations
  • Conducting religious workshops

What a Typical Day of a Pastor looks like?

Pastors usually get to work between 8 and 10 a.m.

After doing some organizational stuff and making sure they have everything they need to do religious services, they get to their actual work and help various parishioners with their problems.

Not only give pastors helpful advice, but they also help to support people on a deep emotional level so that they can overcome their fears and other issues.

Pastors also give church service multiple times per day and make sure that parishioners come together and spend a good time with each other and god.

After working in this style for many hours, most clergymen quit their workday between 5 and 7 p.m.

Pastor Salary 2021

Pastor salary brackets 2021

Salary BracketsSalary (per year)Salary (per hour)
Top 10 %> $98,000> $48.92
Top 25 %$77,000 – $83,000$38.44 – $41.48
Bottom 25 %$46,000 – $52,000$22.89 – $25.93
Bottom 10 %$35,000 – $41,000$17.38 – $20.47
Range$35,000 – $112,000$17.38 – $55.96
Average (Mean)$59,000$29.41
Median$56,000$27.98

Pastor salary 2021 by expert level

Level of ExperienceSalary (per year)Salary (per hour)
Entry level$35,000 – $48,000$17.38 – $23.91
Junior$46,000 – $57,000$22.89 – $28.43
Professional$54,000 – $71,000$26.94 – $35.39
Senior Professional$68,000 – $79,000$33.88 – $39.45
Expert$77,000 – $93,000$38.47 – $46.48
Top Expert$88,000 – $112,000$43.97 – $55.96

Pastor salary by state 2021 (average)

StateSalary (per year)Salary (per hour)
Alabama$54,300$27.13
Alaska$53,800$26.89
Arizona$56,200$28.08
Arkansas$51,700$25.84
California$65,100$32.53
Colorado$54,900$27.42
Connecticut$52,800$26.37
Delaware$50,600$25.24
District of Columbia$52,900$26.41
Florida$58,800$29.36
Georgia$56,300$28.12
Guam$53,200$26.58
Hawaii$57,700$28.83
Idaho$54,800$27.37
Illinois$53,500$26.72
Indiana$51,900$25.91
Iowa$54,800$27.39
Kansas$55,200$27.58
Kentucky$52,600$26.29
Louisiana$50,900$25.44
Maine$55,800$27.88
Maryland$57,400$28.67
Massachusetts$53,100$26.53
Michigan$52,700$26.32
Minnesota$56,800$28.37
Mississippi$51,400$25.68
Missouri$52,700$26.32
Montana$57,100$28.53
Nebraska$52,800$26.38
Nevada$51,600$25.78
New Hampshire$54,400$27.19
New Jersey$57,200$28.57
New Mexico$52,100$26.03
New York$63,800$31.88
North Carolina$53,200$26.59
North Dakota$55,800$27.77
Ohio$54,900$27.42
Oklahoma$57,200$28.58
Oregon$53,700$26.84
Pennsylvania$57,100$28.53
Rhode Island$54,500$27.22
South Carolina$52,300$26.14
South Dakota$55,600$27.78
Tennessee$57,200$28.57
Texas$53,100$26.53
Utah$51,800$25.86
Vermont$52,900$26.41
Virginia$54,500$27.24
Washington$59,300$29.63
West Virginia$58,800$29.38
Wisconsin$56,400$28.19
Wyoming$52,900$26.44

Job Security of Pastors

Pastors enjoy pretty decent job security since not many people want to work in this field anymore and there is a lack of qualified parsons in many regions.

Consequently, you will have a rather easy time finding a job as a pastor and also don’t have to fear losing your job since you would find a new one rather quickly.

Future Outlook of Pastors

Not only current job prospects for pastors are great, also the future outlook is excellent since not many people out there want to become pastors anymore and you will almost have freedom of choice regarding where you want to work as a clergyman in the future since the demand for pastors will continue to be high will there will be a huge shortage of qualified people willing to work in this field just a few years from now.

Working Hours of Pastors

Most pastors start their workday between 8 and 10 a.m. and finish their workday between 4 and 6 p.m.

Thus, you will have a pretty related job where you don’t have to work much overtime and will come home from work rather early.

In turn, you will have more than enough time to spend with your loved ones or on your favorite hobbies.

Job Satisfaction of Pastors

Most pastors are pretty happy with what they are doing for a living since they can spend their workday with the things they are interested in anyway and are also able to make good money from what they are doing while they still enjoy decent job security and also don’t have to deal with lots of stress compared to a job in the corporate world.

Promotion Opportunities of Pastors

Clergymen have pretty poor promotion opportunities.

Once you work in this field, you will do the same job for many years or even decades.

However, you can still get additional responsibilities and may be able to climb the latter slowly but surely.

Career Levels of Pastors

  • Associate pastor
  • Pastor
  • Senior pastor
  • Senior pastor with responsibility for an entire church
  • Senior pastor recognized by the general public
  • Bishop
  • Pope

Fields and Types of Pastors

  • Pastor focused on doing religious service
  • Minister specialized in conducting confessions
  • Parson with special expertise in supporting people on an emotional level
  • Pastors who don’t represent only one religion
  • Pastors focusing on becoming spiritual leaders
  • Clergymen focused on promoting their beliefs in the digital world
  • Pastors for Christianity
  • Pastors for Buddhism
  • Pastors for Hinduism
  • Pastors for Islam
  • Pastors for rather exotic religious beliefs

Educational Requirements for Pastors

Pastors often have to get a master’s degree in divinity, theology or in related fields to be able to work in this field.

However, educational requirements are pretty different across states and regions and you may even be able to do religious services without having to get a college degree in some geographical areas.

How to become a Pastor

  1. Inform yourself about the advantages and disadvantages of being a pastor
  2. Apply for your favorite theological degrees at your favorite colleges
  3. Choose the college and degree you feel most comfortable with
  4. Work as an assistant at a church
  5. Stay in touch with your colleagues
  6. Finish your degree
  7. Apply for jobs as a minister
  8. Master the job interview
  9. Sign your labor contract

Character Traits you need as a Pastor

  • Passion for religious topics
  • Ability to speak in front of a group of people
  • Courage to promote your religious beliefs
  • You should be able to lead a community of people
  • Patience helps to convince many people in the long run
  • Ability to understand that it is impossible to make everyone happy
  • Passion for helping people overcome difficult times of their lives
  • Ability to deal with snarky comments about your career in an emotionally healthy manner
  • Willingness to make many sacrifices
  • You should be open to critical feedback
  • You should be a strong character so that other people don’t bring you down

Hard Skills for Pastors

  • Good knowledge of prayers
  • You should know all aspects of your religion by heart
  • You should know how to maintain the trust of your audience
  • Ability to promote your religion
  • Ability to do great church services
  • Good knowledge of holy books
  • You should know how to sell your religion to new people on a regular basis
  • You often have to get a college degree in theology or a related field
  • You should be good at promoting the word of god

Soft Skills for Pastors

  • You should be a good listener
  • Ability to deal with drawbacks in a proper manner
  • Willingness to make many sacrifices for your job
  • You should be a great communicator
  • Passion for living a life in a deeply religious manner
  • You should be trustworthy
  • Creativity helps you to make religious services interesting
  • Ability to reach all demographics
  • You need to be authentic to be respected by people

Exit Options for Pastors

Clergymen or clergywomen don’t have many exit options.

Once they work in this field, they will stay there for many years or even decades since they are often pretty specialized and don’t find a job in a different industry.

Many pastors also really love what they are doing and can’t imagine working in a different job at all.

Pastor – Similar Careers

  • Theologist
  • Author
  • Teacher
  • Professor
  • Mediator
  • Life coach
  • Publicist
  • Blogger
  • YouTuber

Pastor Career FAQs

Is working as a pastor physically demanding?

Working as a pastor is not heavily physically demanding.

While you will have to carry things from A to B sometimes, you will still not have to lift heavy stuff as construction workers and other craftsmen have to do on a regular basis.

Is working as a pastor mentally demanding?

Being a clergyman can be mentally demanding since you will have to learn many prayers by heart and will also have to remember lots of other religious concepts.

Moreover, a parson career can also be emotionally demanding since you have to listen to many people during the darkest times of their lives and have to find solutions to complex problems.

In turn, you may have problems unplugging from work and may suffer from serious emotional issues in the long run.

Is it dangerous to work as a pastor?

Working as a pastor is not dangerous at all since you will spend your time in a rather safe environment and your risk of suffering from serious accidents at work will be rather low.

How long do pastors stay in their jobs?

Pastors usually stay in their jobs for many years or even decades since they have dedicated their lives to god and are also pretty specialized so that they would have a hard time finding a job in a different field.

Is it easy for pastors to find a new job?

It is pretty easy for most pastors to find a new job since there is a lack of qualified clergymen in many regions while the demand for religious services continues to be high.

In turn, pastors have almost freedom of choice regarding what church they want to work for.

Is it hard to switch from being a pastor to another field of work?

While pastors have decent job prospects in their field, they are also pretty specialized and also often lack the skills needed in different industries right now.

Consequently, parsons often have a hard time quitting their careers and working in a different field since almost nobody would be willing to employ them.

Do pastors have a high social status?

Pastors have a pretty low social status.

While you will be admired by people in your community, you will often have to deal with snarky comments of people from outside due to the many scandals in the recent past.

Hence, you should be able to deal with those comments in an emotionally healthy manner so that people are not able to bring you down sooner or later.

Can you help out your family and friends as a pastor?

While you can do good for many people in your community, you will not be of great help to your loved ones when it comes to solving practical problems.

In such a case, carpenters or other craftsmen will be able to do much more good for their family or friends compared to you as a clergyman.

Can pastors work remotely?

As a clergyman or clergywoman, you will also not be able to work remotely since you will have to do your religious services in person.

Even though it might be possible to do part of your work remotely, people will still develop a deeper connection with you if you speak to them in person and this means that you will have to spend lots of time and money commuting to work and back and you will also be less flexible compared to compliance officers and other people who are able to work from home on a regular basis.

Is it easy to find a partner as a pastor?

Pastors have a pretty hard time in the dating market since they are often not allowed to get into relationships or to have kids.

Moreover, clergymen are also often belittled and may have a hard time competing with people working in different industries.

Do pastors have to work on weekends?

Pastors often have to work on weekends. In fact, many religious services are held on Sundays.

Hence, if you don’t want to work during those times and rather want to have a standard workweek, you should go for an office job instead of becoming a pastor.

Do pastors have to work on holidays?

Pastors also often have to work on holidays since many holidays are connected to religious events and many people want to go to church during those days.

Thus, while many other people are able to enjoy those days with their loved ones, you will have to do religious services and this will take lots of flexibility to meet up with your favorite people from you in the long run.

Do pastors have to work at nighttime?

Pastors also often have to work in the evening, although they rarely have to work at nighttime.

However, your schedule might change quite frequently and you should therefore be rather flexible regarding your working hours.

Do you have to travel as a pastor?

You don’t need to travel as a pastor.

While many other people who work in the corporate world like consultants have to do business trips quite often, you as a clergy can stay at home and can spend precious time with your family.

Are pastor pensions good?

Since pastors are able to make decent money during their active careers, also their pensions are pretty decent as well.

In turn, many pastors don’t have to worry about getting into financial trouble once they quit their active careers and retire.

Are pastor salaries going up?

Salaries for pastors have been going up over the past years and chances are that this trend will continue in the future since there is a lack of qualified pastors in many regions and not enough people want to do this job anymore.

Consequently, wages will likely also go up in the near future in this field.

Can you have a positive impact on society as a pastor?

You can have a big positive impact on society as a pastor since you will be able to build a huge audience of people in your community and you can influence those people in a positive manner to make the world a better place.

How long does it take to become a pastor?

Since you will often need to get a degree for becoming a pastor, you will have to spend many years on education.

In fact, it takes most pastors between 4 and 6 years to be finally able to work as a qualified clergyman in an official manner.

Is it difficult to become a pastor?

While you need to get a college degree for becoming a pastor most of the time, it is still not that difficult to become a clergyman since theological studies are not extremely demanding and if you are passionate and ambitious enough, you will have a pretty good chance to pass all the necessary exams and get a job in this field.

Do you need to be smart to work as a pastor?

While you don’t need to be a genius for working as a pastor, you still need to be smart enough to pass your exams and to get your degree so that you are officially able to work in this field.

Do pastors have a good work-life balance?

Parsons don’t have a great work-life balance since they often have to work on weekends and holidays and sometimes even have to work at nighttime.

Consequently, you will have to work while most of your friends who work in classical office jobs will be able to meet up with each other and enjoy their leisure.

Do pastors have to work many extra hours?

Pastors don’t have to work much overtime.

Instead, they have a rather rigid schedule and once your shift is over, you will often quit your work and get back to it the next morning without having to meet strict timelines as in many other jobs out there.

How to maximize your chances of becoming a pastor?

To maximize your chances of becoming a pastor, you should maximize the time you spend on your studies so that you pass your exams with decent grades.

It can also help to work for the church during your studies so that you already have a foot in the door when it comes to career aspirations.

Can pastors work part-time?

While some pastors might be able to work part-time, most of them still work full-time since they need the money and also really love what they are doing and just want to spend as much time as possible in their community.

Do pastors work indoors or outdoors?

Pastors work indoors most of the time.

Hence, while many other people like roofers or garbage collectors have to work outdoors during times of extreme weather on a regular basis, you as a pastor will have a rather comfortable time in this regard and will not have to care about climatic conditions.

What does the workplace of a pastor look like?

Pastors mainly work in churches and spend their time organizing and performing religious services.

Thus, you might get pretty bored with your work environment unless you have a real passion for working in a religious environment and your belief is strong.

Do you have to look good for working as a pastor?

Your looks don’t matter for succeeding as a pastor.

What’s much more important is that you are a good listener and also have empathy for people who have to go through the most difficult periods of their lives so that you can help them efficiently to solve their problems.

Is a pastor career beneficial for your private life?

Working as a pastor is not really beneficial for your private life since you will often not be allowed to marry or to have children.

Hence, if you want to have your own family one day, you should not become a clergyman but rather go for a career that offers a more tolerant work environment.

Do you need a college degree for becoming a pastor?

You often need to get at least a bachelor’s degree in theology or a related field to be able to work as a pastor.

However, in rare cases and depending on your region, it might be enough to finish high school and to learn everything you need to know on the job.

Do you need to be certified to work as a pastor?

While you often also need to be appointed by the church to be recognized as an official pastor, you don’t have to get additional certifications apart from your college degree to be able to work in this field.

How much does it cost to become a pastor?

Since you will have to spend many years in college, you might have to spend a five-figure or even six-figure amount of money on your education and you should make sure that becoming a clergyman is really your dream and that you want to work in this field for the rest of your life to make it worth the initial investment.

Is being a pastor a good career?

Working as a pastor can be a good career for you if you are flexible regarding your working hours and don’t want to have your own family one day since you can make decent money from what you are doing and also enjoy pretty solid job security.

Is it easy to start your own business as a pastor?

It is almost impossible for pastors to start their own businesses since religious services are mainly organized by the church and other official authorities and there will be barely any space for private market actions.

Thus, if your dream is to work self-employed, you should become a digital marketer or start a career in a different field where it is much easier to start your own business instead of becoming a clergyman.

Can pastors teach themselves?

Parsons are able to teach themselves many things they need for working in this field.

However, they still often need a college degree before they are able to work as a pastor in an official manner and teaching yourself would therefore not be enough to find a job in this industry.

Do pastors make good money?

Pastors can make decent money.

Even though you will make far less compared to dentists or investment bankers, you will still be able to make a decent living from what you are doing and if you don’t spend lots of money on unnecessary consumption, your pastor salary will easily be enough to pay your bills.

Is it ever too late to become a pastor?

While it is never too late to become a pastor, you should still start your clergyman career at a rather young age since you would have to spend many years on education and the sooner you start your career, the sooner you can make it worth the investment.

Do pastors have to quit their careers early?

Most pastors don’t have to quit their careers early since they don’t have to work in a heavy physical manner and while fallers and many other people experience serious physical health problems sooner or later and have to quit their jobs, you as a pastor will often be able to work until retirement age or even longer.

What is the hardest thing about working as a pastor?

The hardest part about being a pastor is that you always have to deal with the problems of other people and if you are not a strong character and don’t have a solid mindset, you may not be able to unplug from all the problems you have to deal with at work and may suffer from mental problems yourself in the long run.

Can you provide for your family by working as a pastor?

While you might not be allowed to marry or have kids, your pastor salary would still be enough to provide for your loved ones unless you live in a really expensive region where rents are extremely high.

In such a case, your partner may have to work as well so that you make enough money as a family to pay your bills together.

Will pastors suffer from old-age poverty?

Most pastors don’t suffer from old-age poverty since they receive pretty decent pensions and are also able to save some money during their active careers which they can use once they quit their careers and retire.

Can pastors retire early?

While pastors are able to make decent money from what they are doing, most of them are still not able to retire early since they don’t earn enough money to do so during their active careers and while dentists or investment bankers may be able to retire in their 50s or even 40s, you as a clergyman will most likely have to work until you reach official retirement age.

Do pastors get a fixed or variable salary?

Pastors mainly get a fixed salary.

Hence, your performance at work will not have a huge impact on your overall income which is quite steady compared to the salaries of salespeople whose income greatly depends on the volume they sell and may greatly vary over time.

Can you get rich as a pastor?

While you can make decent money as a pastor, you will still not be able to get rich.

Therefore, if money and luxury are really important to you, you should rather become a judge or work in the medical or financial industry instead of becoming a pastor.

Do pastors need a second job?

Most pastors don’t need a second job to pay their bills since they are able to make enough money from their clergyman career to cover their expenses.

Do you get continuous training as a pastor?

You will not get continuous training as a pastor.

Instead, it will be on you to hone your craft and to become really good at religious services.

Do you get sick pay as a pastor?

Most pastors get sick pay.

However, this also greatly depends on the region you work in and if you are not sure in this regard, you should ask a local pastor of your community in this regard to get all the information you need.

Do pastors have a high level of responsibility?

Pastors have a high level of responsibility since they can influence the thought process of many people and it is therefore crucial that you spread positive words and also be critical at the same time to make the world a better place in the long run.

Can pastors work abroad?

Clergymen are also able to work abroad since they are needed all over the world.

However, religions greatly differ across states and also working conditions and salaries might be quite different from what you are used to at home.

Consequently, before moving abroad, you should inform yourself about such things to avoid any unpleasant issues in this regard.

Is it stressful to work as a pastor?

Working as a pastor is not that stressful since you will not have to deal with significant time pressure as in many other jobs.

However, you will still have to deal with lots of emotional problems of people and this may really stress you in the long run, especially if you are the type of person who is not able to unplug from work as well.

In such a case, the problems of people in your community will become your problems.

Is it boring to work as a pastor?

Working as a pastor may also become boring in case you are not really passionate about religion and don’t have an inner motivation or calling to work in this field.

In such a case, you should not become a clergyman but rather go for a different career instead to stay happy with what you are doing in the long run.

Is being a pastor hard?

While working as a pastor is not hard from a physical point of view, it can still be hard on a mental and emotional level since you will have to deal with many problems of people all day long and will have to find solutions to complex problems on a regular basis.

Are pastors at risk of burnout?

Since pastors have to deal with so much adversity, they are often at significant risk of burnout or other mental or emotional problems, even though this is not made public most of the time.

Is there a dress code for pastors?

Pastors often dress pretty conservatively so that they are respected by members of their community and can serve god in a proper manner.

What kind of pastors are paid the most?

The longer you work as a pastor and the more responsibilities you get, the more you will be able to make in this field and the more recognized and admired you will become in your community.

What percentage of pastors are women?

Since most churches are pretty conservative and don’t allow women to become pastors, the vast majority of people who work in this field are men and this will continue to be the case in the near future.

Do I need a mentor to succeed as a pastor?

You don’t need a mentor to succeed as a pastor.

However, it can still help to have good contacts with important people inside your local church to already have a foot in the door when it comes to finding a job or promotions you might aspire to.

Do pastors have a high life expectancy?

Since pastors work in a relatively safe environment and are not at great risk of suffering from serious accidents at work, they have decent life expectancy compared to police officers, firefighters and other people who have to risk their lives on a regular basis.

Do pastors suffer from sleeping problems?

Pastors often suffer from sleeping problems since they have to listen to many unpleasant problems people and are often not able to unplug from work in a proper manner.

Hence, while other people sleep at night, clergymen often stay awake and think about how they can help people of their community.

What states are best for working as a pastor?

Since pastor salaries don’t greatly vary across states, you should choose a state or region where many people go to church while living costs are low enough so that you can make a living from what you are doing and don’t need a second job to survive.

Who do pastors work with?

Pastors work with many different people from their community on a regular basis.

Hence, it is important that you are a friendly and trustworthy person people will respect so that they are able to put faith in you and talk about their problems.

Is working as a pastor cool?

Working as a pastor is not considered cool by the majority of the general public due to recent scandals in the past and you will have to deal with many snarky comments regarding your career choice if you tell your family or friends that you want to become a pastor.

Can you start a side hustle as a pastor?

It will be pretty hard for you to start a side hustle as a pastor since you will often be pretty specialized and will not learn many things on the job that you could use to make money in a different field.

Do you have to be creative as a pastor?

Being creative helps you in your pastor career since every religious service will be unique and the more creative you are, the more interesting you can make it for your audience.

Do pastors suffer from being overweight?

Since pastors don’t get lots of exercise at work, they often also don’t burn enough calories and being overweight may become a serious problem for pastors in the long run.

How employable are pastors?

Since not many people want to do this job anymore, pastors are pretty employable and are also in high demand right now. In turn, you will have a pretty easy time finding a job in this field.

Are pastors happy with their jobs?

Many pastors are pretty happy with their jobs since they can do what they are most interested in for a living and can also make decent money while they still benefit from decent job security.

Is working as a pastor exciting?

Working as a pastor is not greatly exciting since you will do many things over and over again and may develop a certain routine in the long run.

Can you have a positive impact on our environment as a pastor?

As a pastor, you can do good for our environment by raising awareness of people on ecological problems and how important it is to solve those issues to assure a livable future for the next generations.

What are the pros and cons of working as a pastor?

If you are still interested in becoming a clergyman, you should also have a look at additional pros and cons of a pastor career.

Sources

https://www.statista.com/statistics/245551/number-of-ordained-clergy-serving-us-religious-parishes-by-church/

Interviews and own research.

About the author

My name is Andreas and my mission is to educate people about the different career paths that are possible in our current state of the world. In my opinion, people often make the mistake to choose their profession solely based on how much money they can earn from it instead of doing what makes them really happy.

This is quite sad and I just want to give people a more objective picture of how a fulfilling career could look like. I did the same when I started working in consulting after finishing my Master’s degree in Economics. However, I’ve quit pretty soon after that since I haven’t found true meaning in my job.

Now I can do what I really love to do and I want to enable as many other people as well to go this exciting path towards happiness instead of money.

I conducted various interviews with employees to give you a good impression of what working in different fields will look like and that you can make the best possible decision regarding your future career choice.

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