How to Become a


The complete career guide to be a Pastor: salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • $48,150
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • 5.7%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Growing Demand
    Job Outlook
  • Working With People
    Career Attribute

Pastors lead church ceremonies in non-denominational Christian and Protestant churches. In addition to orchestrating church ceremonies, pastors commonly preside over weddings, baptisms, and funerals. They may also provide counseling to church members or run one or more youth programs.

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What is a Pastor?

The following job responsibilities are common for individuals in pastor roles:

  • Lead church services, and write and deliver sermons
  • Preside over weddings, baptisms, and funerals
  • Organize and run church services, such as Bible studies, youth groups, and Sunday school
  • Provide counseling to church members
  • Oversee all church administrative duties

A Day in the Life

Pastors are best known for presiding over church services at Protestant and other non-denominational churches. They orchestrate church services and write and deliver sermons. But presiding over church services is just one of many responsibilities of a pastor.

Pastors also orchestrate private events that occur in the church, such as weddings, baptisms, and funerals. While sermons may be similar for each of these services, often, the pastor must write specialized sermons for these services that are catered specifically to the church members being served. In addition to leading these ceremonies, the pastor commonly counsels members prior to ceremonies. In the case of a wedding, the pastor may conduct marriage counseling. For a death, grief counseling.

Pastors also orchestrate all services provided by the church. He may run Sunday school, preside over Bible studies, or organize meetings and events for youth groups. He also organizes all ministry and outreach groups, spreading the teachings of the church throughout the community to gather new followers, and helping those in need by organizing church mission trips.

Finally, pastors also have administrative and managerial responsibilities. The pastor is responsible for overseeing all church staff—both administrative and janitorial—to ensure grounds are clean and safe, church bulletins are created and maintained, and the church budget is sound. The pastor may delegate many of these responsibilities but is ultimately accountable for ensuring responsibilities are fulfilled.

Typical Work Schedule

There is no typical work schedule for a pastor, and in many ways, a pastor is always working. Junior pastors may work part-time hours supporting the church’s main pastor with delegated responsibilities. Senior pastors may be required to work during the day, in evenings, and on weekends. Pastors in roles of greater responsibility commonly work well over a normal 40-hour work week.

Typical Employers

Pastors are hired to work for non-denominational Christian and Protestant churches.

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How To Become a Pastor

Aspiring pastors should start their preparation for their careers early in life, being actively involved in the churches they belong to. They should attend Bible studies, participate in youth groups and missions, and volunteer their time to the church whenever possible. This early experience will help aspiring pastors prepare for the job and validate that the life of a pastor is right for them.

After graduating from high school, many aspiring pastors move into a divinity program at a seminar school for their denomination. Aspiring Baptist pastors should attend a Baptist seminary, aspiring Presbyterian ministers should attend a Presbyterian seminary, and so on. The first step is to earn a bachelor’s degree in Bible studies, divinity, theology, or pastoral studies. While you may be able to find pastor roles with a bachelor’s degree alone, many move on to earn a master’s degree in divinity (MDiv).

Keep in mind that each denomination has its own set of rules for pastors, so it’s important to understand the rules of the church before pursuing a career as a pastor. Some churches allow for both male and female pastors, but some only allow male pastors. Some may allow pastors to be married, while some specifically prohibit marriage, and others disallow pastors who’ve ever been divorced.

After graduating from seminary school, you’ll need to become ordained by the church. This requires an ordination council where you interview with senior members of the church and educators to determine if you have a sufficient handle on the doctrine of the church. If you pass the ordination council, you’ll become an ordained minister for your denomination, and you can begin applying for open pastor roles at churches of your denomination.

Pastor Salary Data

We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Anual Salary

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High Range


National Hourly Wage

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High Range


How do Pastor salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Pastor's can make an average annual salary of $48,150, or $23 per hour. This makes it an Above Average Salary. On the lower end, they can make $31,850 or $15 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #415 Nationally for All Careers

Programs and Degrees

Here are the most common degrees for becoming a Pastor. a is usually recommended and specifically a degree or coursework that prepares you for the particular field, see below.

Highest Education Among Pastors

  • 16.2%   Doctorate
  • 34.9%   Masters
  • 23.9%   Bachelors
  • 4.6%   Associates
  • 11.4%   College
  • 6.8%   High School
  • 2.2%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs


2024 Est. Jobs


Job Growth Rate


Est. New Jobs


How does Pastor job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 13,800 jobs for a total of 258,000 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 5.7% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Below Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #396 Nationally for All Careers

What Companies Employ The Most Pastors

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
General medical and surgical hospitals; private 6,400 400 0%
Home healthcare services 5,000 3,000 3%
Nursing care facilities (skilled nursing facilities) 1,500 200 0%

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