Ministry is a broadly defined profession in the United States. As a result, the ministry job outlook can vary significantly. It includes a wide range of otherwise unrelated disciplines, including administrative professionals, educators, doctors and lawyers, as well as members of the clergy. It also includes a range of denominations, and programs which are focused on specific demographics. There are ministers who are concerned with the young, with people facing the end of their lives, with non-citizen residents of the United States, and with members of the military.
So, what is the overall ministry job look, and how does that play out across the many disparate groups of people who fall under the auspices of the ministry in America?
What is a Minister?
In America today, the term “minister” usually refers specifically to a member of the clergy. Unlike the case in certain other countries, it does not apply to individuals who are functioning in non-religious roles on behalf of a religious order or organization. Such individuals may, even in America, be referred to as “part of the ministry,” but their earnings and job outlook are generally factored into those of their profession. Within the Catholic Church, for example, the role of music director pays a significantly higher median salary than that which is given to priests, due to the marketability of the skills involved in being an administrator of a music program.
What’s the Situation for Senior Ministers?
Most churches have a hierarchy within each individual facility. Small churches may get by with a single pastor, minister or priest, but larger individual organizations will typically have multiple people circulating within that role. In such a situation, there is a seniormost individual. Newer, less experienced members of the clergy have less authority, may be less visible to their respective congregations, and have smaller compensation packages. Their jobs often include a significant amount of the behind-the-scenes administrative work needed to keep the facility running, making administrative and leadership skills crucial to any ministry. The number of senior ministers in the U.S. is expected to rise by almost 2% over the next ten years; this is not a rapid growth rate, but it does reflect an expansion over recent trends, as people return to their faith for comfort in the face of uncertain times.
What About Specialized Ministers?
Overall, statistical data for youth ministers, members of the clergy working with military and law enforcement, and other specialized positions, is not tracked individually by the American government. There is some data available for youth ministers, however, which suggests a growth rate and a rise in income commensurate with that of American ministers in general. Wages are growing at a slightly more rapid rate than the national average, which again suggests more people turning back to their religious faith in order to find meaning in a range of current issues facing our country.
The ministry job outlook in America is slowly on the rise. At just shy of 2% growth predicted over the next few years, it has a ways to go before it reaches the 7-8% average across all American industries, but it is already seeing improvement. Wages and other compensation are likewise seeing a slow, but steady increase, with historically under-addressed specializations (such as youth ministry) experiencing a slightly more generous increase in terms of compensation. Demographically, while different denominations pay their ministers on different scales, all Christian ministries in the United States are experiencing overall similar growth rates.