A degree in religious studies is wonderful for anyone looking to deepen their knowledge and understanding of the Bible and their faith. However, religious studies is very useful for beginning your career. There are many areas where religious knowledge and expertise can be a benefit to your profession. Here is a look at just a few of those areas.
The armed forces has many positions available for religious studies graduates to serve as chaplains. With a bachelor degree in religious studies, you can become part of the chaplain candidacy program and participate in a training program while earning your seminary or divinity degree. If you already have your master’s in divinity or theology, then you can attend a basic chaplain training course for twelve weeks. Military chaplains are called on to lead religious services, provide pastoral counseling for military members and their families, perform marriage ceremonies and baptisms, and may even be deployed to combat regions to serve our men and women in combat, though chaplains are not involved in combat situations. A chaplain is a uniformed military officer, and they are paid according to the military pay ranks. Chaplains enter military service at the rank of O-4 and a basic pay rate of $53,000 per year. More information can be found on the Go Army website.
Clergy members are the civilian counterparts of military chaplains. They are usually the head of a church organization in which they lead worship services, prepare and give sermons, counsel church members, perform marriages, baptisms, and confirmations, and lead religious education within their church. Clergy members have masters in divinity or theology. They have a great deal of influence over their church membership and are always expected to conduct themselves accordingly. Pay for clergy members is provided by the church and will often come with a housing allowance. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that clergy members earn around $46,000 per year.
Private schools will hire religious studies bachelor degree holders to teach courses in philosophy or religion. These individuals are often responsible for teaching elementary, middle and/or secondary school students in a typical classroom setting. Teachers in private schools usually enjoy the freedom of autonomy over their classroom and curriculum. Private school educators do not make as much as their public school (certified) counterparts, but they will often enjoy far less paperwork, continued licensure requirements, and often deal with more supportive families of their students. Their wages range from $30,000 to $40,000 per year, which is somewhat less than public school teachers. With a master’s or higher in religious studies, you can teach on the college level and earn significantly more.
Religious counselors aren’t bound to the same rules and regulations as traditional mental health counselors. In this field, you can work for a non-profit ministry association or even a church in order to help people deal with religious or even personal crises. In addition to religious studies, your education should include some form of Christian or pastoral counseling. Religious counselors can become certified through the Board of Professional and Pastoral Christian Counselors. The typical salary for a religious counselor is about $46,000 per year.
Missionaries are sponsored by churches or other religious groups. They usually work in third world countries where the population needs medical, educational, and spiritual help. The job of a missionary is to work within the community to help people overcome their circumstances and also to fill their lives with God. It is very difficult but highly fulfilling and meaningful work. Missionaries are usually given adequate housing for themselves and their families as well as medical and educational benefits. They will also usually receive a monthly stipend.
Many individuals with a degree in religious studies find that they are a good fit for providing a necessary ministry within their local church. Many larger churches need pastoral assistants, music directors, education directors, ministry outreach coordinators and other types of positions. In these positions, you can serve the church without necessarily becoming a member of the clergy. Pay for this position varies by the type of position and available funding, but the median salary for these position is around $35,000 a year.
Museum curators handle overseeing museum archives, acquisitions, activities, and budgeting. Many historical or artifact museums are interested in someone with a degree in religious studies because they have a background in research and some historical knowledge. While museum jobs can be difficult to come by, they are very important and enjoyable careers. Depending on the type of museum, the yearly salary for a museum curator is around $44,000 a year.
A degree in religious studies will allow you to help others deepen their knowledge and faith. You may choose to go to work for a religious publishing company or magazine. In these jobs, you will be tasked with editing content and preparing it to be published. At a magazine, you may even be able to write your own content. In addition, as an expert in religious matters, you may decide to use your insight to write a unique Bible study or devotional book. Both publishing/magazine editors and writers earn around $55,000 annually.
Many religious organizations and universities perform research studies regularly to discover new facts about the population, religious programs, and even religious literature. With a bachelor’s degree in religious studies, you can work as a research assistant, helping the senior researchers gather information and administer tests or questionnaires. With a master’s or doctoral degree, you will design the research project, supervise assistants, analyze and interpret results, and be able to publish findings. Research assistants earn around $40,000 a year while senior researchers earn closer to $70,000.
Non-profit organization and positions vary greatly. Many positions involve general administrative skills, others need marketing effort, and still others require you to work directly with people. Religious non-profit groups will value a degree in religious studies because it shows you fit with their overall mission. Since there are varied jobs, you will be able to find the one that fits your skills. Depending on the type of work performed, individuals in the non-profit sector can earn up to $60,000 a year.