Careers with a Religious Studies Degree


As a religious studies graduate, you'll have a lot of career options. Why is that? Well, simply put, because the skills you can acquire can be applied to so many different types of careers.


Take the skill of being able to understand different cultures and philosophical points of view. A skill such as this has many career applications.


It can be applied in occupations such as "community services director", wherein it’s important to be able speak to the specialized needs of a community with a culture that's different than your own.


But that’s not the only skill you’ll acquire. You’ll gain an entire portfolio of skills that can be applied to a wide variety of careers in religion, as well as careers not concerning religion at all. In fact, only a relatively small number of graduates apply their education in religion-based career fields, such as "pastor" or "liturgist".



More On What You Can Do with This Degree

Many graduates use their religious studies degree to pursue professional and graduate programs, and eventually careers, in various areas including education, journalism, sociology, law, social work and medicine. Others go directly into the workforce, often starting near the bottom and using their skill set to work their way up!


So read on below, we have plenty of information on 'what you can do' with a major in this field. Included are job descriptions, expected salaries, educational requirements and other such information for occupations related to this field.





What Religious Studies Teaches You

The main goal of a religious studies program (in most cases) is to help you understand the world’s various religions, as well as their relationships to culture both in the past and in the contemporary world.


An understanding of religion helps translate into an understand the world around us, as religion is a major force in contemporary politics, societies and cultures, just as it has been throughout history.


To help examine religious belief in its relation to these social sciences, religious studies programs often incorporate elements of sociology, political science, anthropology, language studies, classical studies and history.


Depending on the school offering the program, you may be able to study religion in general, or you may be able to study individual traditions, religious figures and deities. Some programs divide their coursework into that of Eastern Religions, Western Religions or the Nature of Religion.


Religious studies can be taught in an academic or confessional setting, depending on whether or not the school is sectarian.



Skills You’ll Gain for Relevant Careers

A degree in this field gives you the opportunity to gain a skill set that is highly applicable to a future career within religion.


• Ability to evaluate current affairs from a critical perspective

• Ability to assess the impact of religion in the contemporary world

• An understanding and appreciation of human cultural, social and religious diversity

• An understanding of the multi-faceted nature of human interactions

• Research skills that facilitate the study and appreciation of diverse cultures

• An understanding of social patterns, both in a historical and contemporary context

• Specific knowledge of the teachings and philosophies of various religions



List of Relevant Professions

Because of the field-specific skills you’ll gain, one career option you have is to pursue a career in a profession that is directly related to a community of faith. Such professions may include, but are not limited to:


• Campus Minister

• Cantor

• Clergyman/woman

• Community Outreach Coordinator

• Cultural Administrator

• Evangelist

• Diocese Director

• Liturgist

• Military Chaplain

• Ministerial Youth Worker

• Missionary

• Non-Profit Administrator

• Pastor

• Pastoral Animator

• Pastoral Officer

• Pastoral Services Coordinator

• Religious Activities and Education Director

• University Professor

• Volunteer Coordinator


Please Note: Many of these positions may be available to you straight out of school, but most require graduate training at a seminary or theological school.





Other Transferrable Skills You’ll Gain

Studying religion is not necessarily meant as preparation for professional careers in the field. It’s largely about studying people and their many perspectives. As a result of these studies, you can gain a skill set that can be applied to careers across many different industries:


• A fundamental cultural literacy

• Research skills, including data gathering and direct observation

• Able to interpret and express your position on perplexing phenomena

• Critical intelligence and skills in intellectual analysis

• Ability to empathize with your fellow human being in order to understand his or her perspective


In particular, this skill set serves as an excellent foundation for jobs that require relating to others, reaching out to them, building bridges, or incorporating many perspectives at once.


Please Note: While this type of skill set may not be enough to ‘get you a job’ per se, it does serve as an excellent foundation for many jobs. The degree itself also serves as an excellent pre-requisite to many graduate and professional training programs that will allow you to become fully qualified for many positions to which this skill set applies.



List of Other Careers You Can Pursue

Outside of religion, you still have many career options because of the transferable skills you’re able to gain as a result of your studies. These careers include, but are not limited to:


• Addictions Counsellor

• Anthropologist

• Blogger

• Child Care Worker

• Customer Service Representative

• Elementary School Teacher

• Diplomat

• High School Teacher

• International Aid Worker

• International Development Project Director

• Journalist

• Lobbyist

• Media Manager

• Paralegal

• Parole Officer

• Political Scientist

• Sales Representative


Please Note: Many of the above careers require additional training, education and/or experience. To find out more about the specific education and training requirements of each career, click on their links above.



Typical Salary of a Graduate

The salary you could earn as a religious studies graduate first entering the workforce can vary drastically, and is heavily dependent on the following factors (not an inclusive list):


• Your level of education (such as if you went on to graduate studies)

• The industry in which you find work

• The type of job you have, and your level of responsibility

• The size and type of your employer

• The region in which you work

• Other work experience you may have accrued

• Other skills you may have


Religious Studies Graduate Salary Ontario: According to a study in 2011 conducted by the Ontario Council of Universities, $38,407 CAD* is the average salary earned by Humanities graduates, 2 years after graduating from Ontario universities in 2010.


*This figure is a composite of all graduates who earned a Bachelor’s degree in the Religious Studies, not specifically for philosophy graduates. Unfortunately, similar statistics for other Canadian provinces and the United States cannot be found from reputable sources.






Religious Studies Scholarships

If you’re a religious studies major looking for help in paying for school, then you’re in luck! Our scholarships database has Canadian and American scholarships that are specific to your field of study, those for arts students in general, and scholarships that are open to any field of study.


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any and all scholarships for which you qualify, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships in Canada and the United States that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants.



Professional Associations for Relevant Careers

To find out more about careers in the field of religious studies, consult the following professional association websites. They offer career-related information, and many have opportunities for student membership, as well as job placement and mentoring opportunities.



Canadian Professional Counsellors Association

Canadian Society for the Study of Religion

The Canadian Association for Spiritual Care


United States

American Academy of Religion

American Association of Pastoral Counselors

Evangelical Press Association

The Religious Research Association



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