For those students who are interested in studying religion, a degree in Theology is the perfect choice. Having the opportunity to not only gain a college education, but also learn more about one’s faith is often seen as an opportunity that’s too good to pass up. However, when most people think of a theology degree they automatically assume the only available job is that of minister.
Yet, the fact is a theology degree can lead to many careers other than the ministry, with each offering excellent salaries and the chance to use one’s training in various settings. As more people than ever before look at religion and spirituality as a major part of their lives, theology degrees have allowed many people with religious training to enter a number of mainstream careers.
As parents become more concerned with their children’s education, many are opting to enroll their children in private, religious-based schools that are often affiliated with local churches. Just like regular public schools, these schools all need qualified teachers to help students learn. As a result, many theology degree holders are finding excellent paying jobs in these schools. Opportunities are available at the elementary, middle and high school levels, with many teachers being given the chance to teach theology classes to students. Salaries for these jobs can be as low as $25,000 per year to as high as $75,000 annually for those with many years experience with larger schools. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary range is $47,000-$51,000.
Rather than teaching young children, many graduates with Master’s degrees in Theology choose to become college faculty at colleges and universities across the United States. In these positions, they are able to teach several classes per semester in such areas as Religious History, Christian Education, Philosophy of Religion and other areas. The average annual salary for this position is $62,300, with many professors earning close to $95,000 per year if they are tenured. However, many degree holders begin their college teaching careers as adjunct faculty, teaching part-time at first in order to gain experience and establish a name for themselves in their chosen field. Salaries for part-time faculty can range from $15,000-$25,000 per year, though many instructors are often paid a flat rate per course, ranging from $500-$1,000.
Yes, the vast majority of those with degrees in Theology do still choose to enter the ministry. While most ministers choose to be employed at a church of certain religious affiliation such as Methodist or Baptist, others choose to minister in hospitals or for worldwide relief agencies helping those in third-world nations overcome poverty, hunger and many times war. The highest-paying jobs for ministers are found in specific churches, with those affiliated with “megachurches” sometimes making well over $1 million or more per year. However, for most ministers their annual salary is closer to $44,000 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Those going directly from college to ministry jobs average $32,000 annually, but often have housing provided along with limited benefits including health insurance and retirement plans.
For those Theology graduates who prefer the written word, there are many jobs available as writers and reporters for newspapers, magazines, television stations and even as self-employed internet bloggers. Assignments can vary, ranging from being the religion reporter for a television news channel to writing a weekly column for a local newspaper. Topics can be anything from reporting on local religious services to interviewing high-ranking church officials regarding intriguing and sometimes controversial issues. Salaries for these jobs range from $35,000 per year for print reporters to $67,000 per year for television reporters, with those getting jobs with major television networks making over $100,000 per year while traveling the world for their next big story.
While religious-affiliated schools need excellent teachers to succeed, they also need Executive Director’s to make sure everything runs smoothly. These jobs can be both rewarding and difficult at the same time, for administrators are trying to find common ground with church leaders and parents of children attending the school. In these jobs, having a background in Christian Education is a huge plus. For smaller schools, directors can earn $35,000-$45,000 per year, while in larger schools they can earn up to $200,000 annually. Directors hire teachers and other personnel, give their approval to various programs and usually work with a board of directors to make sure the school accomplishes its goals of Christian Education. Salaries for these jobs begin at $35,000 annually, with the overall average being $65,000 per year according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Because theology so often emphasizes helping others, many people choose to enter the field of social work to help different populations of people live better lives. Some choose to become members of the Salvation Army, helping organize food drives and work in homeless shelters. The outlook for jobs in this field is quite good, with expected annual job growth slated to be 38 percent. Others choose to work for state and local agencies in various capacities or are employed by private organizations, many of which are considered faith-based agencies and are often affiliated with a specific religious denomination. Social workers starting out in entry-level positions can expect to earn average salaries of $28,000 per year, but after having several years of experience their salaries can exceed $46,000 per year. Salaries are highest for those who advance to administrative positions within agencies, where supervisors and managers can average $65,000 annually.
Many organizations such as hospitals, schools and other non-profit organizations rely on volunteers in order to accomplish many of their tasks. As a result, it is vital they be able to not only recruit enough volunteers to fully staff all their programs, but maintain them as well. One of the biggest problems many organizations have is convincing volunteers to stay on the job, and that is where having a solid volunteer recruiter comes into play. As organizations have begun to understand the importance of their volunteer staff, the job of volunteer recruiter has gained much prominence. Those who possess Theology degrees, are excellent public speakers and have a true passion for a certain cause can excel in these positions. Spending much of their time speaking to groups, their goal is to sign up as many people as possible as volunteers, make sure they receive proper training and encourage them to continue volunteering for many years. Salaries for these jobs are steadily growing, with the current average annual salary being $37,000. More and more churches are beginning to hire volunteer recruiters to help with their many programs, with these jobs averaging $29,000 annually. For smaller churches and agencies, salaries may be $25,000 while larger churches can pay close to $40,000.
As the majority of today’s non-profit agencies know, fund-raising has become more important than ever. As federal, state and local budgets continue to shrink, less and less money is being made available to help social service agencies cope with the additional people requesting assistance. This is where the job of a fund-raising specialist comes in. Many theology graduates are finding employment today as fund-raisers for social service agencies, making the rounds of government offices as well as corporate offices to arrange donations to their agencies. Much like a minister giving a sermon, fund-raisers are assigned the task of showing others how their funding would be put to best use, and their public speaking and sales skills are put to the test each time. Salaries for these jobs are beginning to increase as fund-raising grows in importance, with many entry-level jobs beginning at $28,000-$34,000 per year. Jobs in larger cities or with larger agencies can pay more, with salaries approaching $45,000 annually.
With the world becoming closer every day, there is a growing need for Bible translators to help bring the Scriptures to many third-world nations. Requiring a mastery of Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic many relief organizations are hiring Bible translators to work with native populations in remote areas such as New Guinea and the jungles of South America. These jobs, being part missionary, part anthropologist and part minister require a willingness to live in harsh conditions for months or years at a time, immersing one’s self in the culture in order to gain trust and learn the native language. Salaries for these jobs are growing, since the demands are great. Many relief agencies will pay translators $50,000 or more per year for these assignments, with some paying between $60,000-$70,000 per year for assignments that may last between 10-20 years depending upon the living conditions and available resources. So for those with an interest in history, anthropology and sociology this can be a fascinating way to put their theology training to excellent use.
So whether you wish to be in a comfortable office or in a jungle hut for a decade, there are numerous jobs available for those possessing Theology degrees. While many of these jobs offer very competitive salaries, they also offer the chance to put one’s faith to the test each day, helping others who are suffering hardships the chance to make their lives a bit better. And for anyone who has studied the life of Jesus, they know there is no better way to make a living than to walk in His steps.