Priests work exclusively in churches, especially Catholic churches. They often represent their churches in hospitals, the military and schools. They primarily prepare sermons for their parishes each week, focusing on moral issues and salvation. They also help establish budgets for their churches and find ways to cut expenses. These religious professionals also officiate at weddings and perform funeral services. Most priests have bachelor’s or master’s degrees in theology. They typically earn annual salaries.
Median Salary and Benefits
Priests, as members of the clergy, earned median annual salaries of $43,970, according to May 2010 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The middle 50 percent earned salaries between $31,780 and $58,360 per year. The top 10 percent earned at least $58,360 per year. And the bottom 10 percent earned no more than $31,780 annually. Priest receive benefits like health and life insurance and paid vacations and holidays. They also get perks such as free rent, food expenses and the use of cars, depending on their individual parishes.
Salary by State
Salaries for priests can vary significantly by state. As of 2010 those in the District of Columbia earned the highest annual salaries at $61,100, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. They earned their second highest salaries in California at $60,260 per year. And those in Nevada earned average salaries of $59,920 annually. Priests earned closer to average salaries in Florida and Michigan at $44,500 and $41,350 per year, respectively.
Salaries by Metropolitan Area
Priests’ salaries also vary considerably by metropolitan area. For example, those in the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, California metropolitan area earned the highest annual salaries at $71,320, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. They also earned fairly high salaries in the Ann Arbor, Michigan area at $68,340 annually. These religious professionals earned substantially lower salaries in the Honolulu, Hawaii and Great Falls, Montana metropolitan areas at $42,880 and $40,950 per year, respectively. Salaries tend to vary within different dioceses throughout these metropolitan areas as well.
Jobs for priests are expected to grow at an average pace between 2008 and 2018, according to the University Directory published by “U.S. News and World Report.” Jobs will be available as other priests retire. People who choose the priesthood will also find fewer men entering the profession, according to StateUniversity.com. Those with the right education and experience will likely find jobs available.