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Religious Studies: Jobs & Career Outlook

man gazes at stars

Religious studies degrees teach students about our place in the universe within the context of beliefs, history, and scriptures. In a nutshell, these degrees shine a light on religion from an academic angle. You don’t just graduate with deep insight about the way the world around you works, but also insight into different worlds and powerful stories that are radically dissimilar from those you were brought up with. 

The difference between religious studies and theological studies is the amount of focus on God (or deities) themselves. Religious studies center more on religious behavior and are conducted from outside any particular religious stance.

Course Program

Religious studies jobs typically demand empathy, effective communication skills, and emotional intelligence. Some of these jobs will draw directly upon your expertise in societies, reason, and belief systems, while others run parallel to your field of study, but can require you to draw upon your specialty at times.

Below is a sample of the courses St. Thomas University offers students who seek this degree:

  • REL 2300 World Religions
  • REL 2240 Surveys of the New Testament
  • REL 2750 Christian Moral Decision Making

Top Religious Studies Jobs

For those still wondering what careers a religious studies degree can offer after college, here are 10 religious studies jobs that could interest a world religions expert.


young teacher reads bible

average salary: $43,450

Unlike schools that receive public dollars, Christian and other religious schools consider your faith and values a real part of your job. Teaching at a religious school can be extremely rewarding. These institutions allow men and women of God to be open about an important side of themselves.

However, a religious studies degree does not limit you to only teaching at faith-based educational institutions. World religion and philosophy courses can also be taught at private schools, and your education will have you well-suited to teach these classes. You can also further your studies and go on to teach college-level and university courses after earning your graduate or doctorate degree.

2. Charity officer for a religious non-profit: 

average salary: $68,042

The First Amendment guarantees Americans freedom of religion. Many of these religious organizations fund themselves primarily through donations. 

Some of the largest and best-known non-profits in America have religious affiliations. These include Habitat for Humanity and the Salvation Army. Being a charity officer or fundraiser for these organizations can be quite lucrative, starting around $40k and extending all the way to 113k.

3. Missionary: 

average salary: $44,566

A missionary works to serve as a witness, teach people about their religion, and spread their faith. 

This job pays surprisingly well and carries the perk of empowering you to travel all over the world. This is a job that someone who studied religious groups and movements all over the world might enjoy if s/he is passionate about spreading their religion.

4. Chaplain: 

average salary: $50,397

The job of a chaplain is to conduct religious services for devotees who are unable to attend a normal service — this includes prisons, universities, hospitals, and military bases. 

Chaplains were once exclusively Christian in the USA, but many today conduct services for other kinds of spiritual practitioners. You may find chaplains facilitating worship for Buddhist, Jewish, or Hindu communities. 

5. Youth Director:

average salary: $41,361

Youth directors work at centers, schools, and churches around the world to welcome adolescents and children into religious communities. These jobs often call for experience working with young people or teaching. 

It is a tough, but rewarding job that tasks the employee with overseeing a formative period in a person’s life that is often marked by rebelliousness and angst. 

6. Technical writer:

average salary: $50/hour

Freelance technical writing can earn you up to $70/hour depending on experience and field. Your religious studies education can prepare you to be a qualified expert. This is knowledge and credibility you can take with you to any content publisher who needs an authoritative voice in humanities, beliefs, religions, or cultures.

7. Police officer

average salary: $52,911

The job of a police officer requires tact and sound judgment. It is for this reason that this career can be well-suited for those coming out of college with the educated, empathetic, and decisive thinking religious studies can afford you. 

A few of the religious studies skills that can come in handy in this line of work are clear communications, emotional intelligence, and empathy for people from different backgrounds 

8. Fundraising

average salary: $56,950

This versatile field of work can put you at the financial front lines of your favorite cause. It is best suited for passionate communicators with a firm grasp on psychology and finance. Fundraisers based out of hospitals and universities can reach extraordinary levels of compensation and deal directly with people in the highest levels of society.   

9. Law

lawyer writing in a book

average salary: $120,910

Attorneys also have a need for clear and careful communication skills. This is a broad field that welcomes avid readers from many disciplines. Jobs in international and First Amendment law in particular could be interesting to religious studies graduates.

The catch for this extremely well-paid job is that it will require even more school often accompanied by internships in the form of paralegal work. 

10. United Nations/ Diplomacy

average salary: $75,000

The UN hires 44,000 professionals across the world. One of the first questions they ask when you apply for a job is ‘what languages do you speak?’ For a religious studies graduate with an interest in other cultures and ways of life, this should hopefully be a chance to flex some intellectual muscle. 

Any religious studies job you take with the UN is sure to be well-compensated, prestigious, and interesting.

The career opportunities available for someone with an education in religious studies are vast and versatile. Whether you want to pursue a career in academia and continue your studies, or you prefer to work for faith-based organizations, the options for religious studies jobs are endless. We offer our Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies both on-campus and online, so you can find the right course schedule that works for you. Visit our program page to learn more, or get started and apply today!

Michelle Tulande

Author Michelle Tulande

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