An education in religious vocations prepares one to work within a religious occupation, usually as a member of the clergy of a particular faith or as a teacher within that faith. Individuals with degrees in religious vocations usually work in a religious institution, but they may work at hospitals or other facilities where they may be needed.
A degree in religious vocations can prepare students for a lifetime of working within their faith to help and lead others. Possible career choices for graduates of religious vocational programs include clergy, as well as professors of religion and religious activities directors.
|Career||Clergy||Professor of Religion||Director of Religious Activities and Education|
|Education Requirements||Master's Degree or Equivalent||Master's Degree or PhD||Master's Degree|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||6%||13%||4%|
|Average Salary (2015)*||$48,150||$75,140||$45,160|
Source: United States Bureau of Labor Statistics
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Career Information for a Degree in Religious Vocations
Some people are drawn to a life of service within a religious faith. Students in educational programs for religious vocations might earn bachelor's degrees with either a major or minor in pre-theology or pre-ministry. Some will go on to graduate studies in theology or religious studies at seminary school. In these programs, future religious workers learn about the history, scriptures and theology of their particular faith. They develop a knowledge base to guide and inform others in careers as religious leaders, professors and religious activities directors.
Clergy members, such as pastors, priests and ministers, teach members of a congregation about their religion and its doctrines, deliver regular sermons on topics related to spirituality and daily life, perform ceremonies such as weddings and funerals and provide counseling services to members of their congregation. Most denominations require clergy to have a graduate professional degree such as a Master's of Divinity (M.Div.) or equivalent. Duties commonly include leading regular worship services, overseeing staff such as church administrative workers and assistant clergy members, counseling church members, directing community works and developing outreach programs.
Most, thought not all, clergy work for religious organizations. Other clergy sometimes seek employment with hospitals or other medical service providers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), this career field is expected to grow 6% from 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). As of 2015, the median wage for this field was $44,250 annually, also per the BLS.
Professor of Religion
Professors of religion at the college or university level might teach theology, comparative religion or both. Theology is the teaching of the beliefs of a specific denomination, while comparative religion involves educating students about the practices and beliefs of many different religions. Professorial positions generally require doctorates at four-year institutions and at least master's degrees at 2-year colleges. As with other teachers, these professors are responsible for designing and planning classes, evaluating student progress through tests and assignments and providing tailored instruction.
In 2015, the median annual wage for a postsecondary philosophy and religion teacher was $66,380, according to data reported by the BLS. The BLS estimated employment of postsecondary teachers in all subject areas to increase 13% between 2014 and 2024. This projected average rate of growth is associated with the continued increase in enrollment at postsecondary institutions.
Director of Religious Activities and Education
Directors of religious activities and education generally work in religious institutions. They are responsible for developing and organizing religious education programs and congregational activities. Additionally, they may also provide religious or other counseling as part of the role. According to the BLS, the level of education required for the position is generally a bachelor's degree. The specific requirements for the role may vary with required duties, such as specific areas of counseling.
The BLS lists the median annual salary of directors of religious activities and education as $38,780 in 2015. Employment for these positions is expected to increase by 4% from 2014-2024.
Careers in the religious vocations field usually require a degree. This education provides the background theological and practical material needed to carry out religious services and help educated those within a given faith.