Students who take pre-theology or pre-ministerial studies may opt to pursue graduate studies in theology or begin a career. Clergy interpret and instruct church members and provide spiritual advisement. Religious activities and education directors implement and lead programs to instruct parishioners on religious doctrine, while postsecondary religion teachers instruct students studying theology or religious history.
Pre-theology or pre-ministerial studies may be taken as a college major or a recommended program of courses along with another major. They prepare students for graduate programs in theology through instruction in philosophy, religious history and Christian scripture.
|Career||Clergy Members||Religious Activities and Education Directors||Theology and Religious Studies Professors|
|Education Requirements||Graduate-level theological or seminary education||Bachelor's degree||Advanced seminary degree or Ph.D. in Theology|
|Job Growth (2014-2024)*||6%||4%||12%|
|Median Annual Salary (2015)*||$44,250||$38,780||$66,380|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Students who go on to advanced studies in theology or the ministry can eventually find work as clergy members, religious activities directors or even professors of religion. Further details on these career options are outlined below.
Clergy members, such as priests, pastors and ministers, serve a variety of functions as leaders of religious congregations. They interpret and teach liturgical texts, conduct services and advise followers in spiritual matters. Pastors or priests administer sacraments and may preside over funerals and weddings. Most positions require a graduate-level theological or seminary education.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that this profession would grow at an average rate of 6% during the 2014-2024 decade. According to the BLS, clergy members earned a median annual wage of $44,250 as of May 2015.
Religious Activities and Education Directors
Religious activities and education directors design, implement and lead programs for parishioners and provide instruction in religious doctrine. They might manage other workers or volunteers and report to the pastor of their congregation. These positions don't generally require a master's degree; a bachelor's program in pre-theology or pre-ministerial studies may provide adequate preparatory training.
The BLS reports that religious activities directors will see their profession grow about as fast as most others, with 4% expansion, from 2014-2024. As of May 2015, these professionals earned an annual median salary of $38,780.
Theology and Religious Studies Professors
Professors in religious studies, theology and comparative religion often hold advanced seminary degrees or a Ph.D. in Theology; they may work in either religiously affiliated or secular postsecondary institutions. Theology professors generally focus on Christian scripture and theology, though they often combine coursework with other subjects, such as philosophy or religious history. Comparative religion and religious studies professors compare and analyze the differing beliefs and histories of various world religions, from Christianity to Islam and indigenous beliefs.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, job opportunities for professors of all kinds are expected to increase by 12% between 2014 and 2024, due in part to overall student population growth. Postsecondary teachers of philosophy and religion earned an annual median salary of $66,380 as of May 2015.
Pre-theology or pre-ministerial studies can prepare graduates to pursue a career as a clergy member, religious activities and education director, or to teach theology or religion in a postsecondary setting. These careers can involve working with parishioners to provide instruction and counseling, leading services for church members, or teaching postsecondary students theology or religious history. The BLS predicts the job prospects will be best for postsecondary religion teachers, with a 12% growth in jobs forecast from 2014-2024.