If you are investigating careers for graduates with a degree in Religious Studies you may be pleasantly surprised. College degrees in Religious Studies and the career opportunities available to the graduates who earn them are not the rarity they once were. In fact, Religious Studies degree programs are no longer found only in church based colleges , but instead have made their way into institutions of higher learning across the board. For some graduates with a degree in Religious Studies, career plans may simply mean taking advanced degree programs or enrolling in a seminary to complete preparation for ordination. But what about the large number of graduates with degrees in Religious Studies whose career plans do not include life as an ordained minister? As a graduate with a Religious Studies degree you might want to consider the following career possibilities.
1. Teacher : An obvious career choice for someone with a degree in Religious Studies is to take what they have learned and pass it on by teaching. By adding required education courses to their resumes, Religious Studies degree holders can find career opportunities in church owned and operated schools.
Decades ago, Catholic parochial schools were staffed predominantly by Religious Order women known as “sisters” or “nuns”. the tremendous decrease in the number of vocations to the life of the professed religious has opened the door to ever greater employment opportunities for appropriately prepared lay people. Religious Studies graduates are of great value to parochial and other church based grammar, middle and high schools. In most of these venues, all children enrolled take at least one religion course each year. Many schools try to provide additional religious studies or service electives. The need to staff all of the teaching slots means the creation of a variety of interesting, if low paying .career opportunities for those with a degree in Religious Studies.
2. Parish or Congregational Work: For those who have achieved a degree in Religious Studies there are a wide variety of opportunities for the unordained to work in local Church parishes or congregations. The larger the faith community, the more likely it is to have resources and the need to hire professionally trained lay people to head up faith related programs for children , teens, parents, families and seniors. Large congregations with only one ordained minister are seeking graduates with a degree in Religious Studies to help them to arrange programs , recruit and train volunteers, provide worship and evangelize.
If you have a Religious Studies degree you may even consider careers above the local Church level. State conferences, regional bodies and diocesan offices are often staffed at least in part by lay people. These bodies seek employees who have solid education backgrounds. A degree in Religious Studies gives the graduate credibility and makes it possible for them to become part of these leadership teams.
3. Sales opportunities : For those who have received a degree in Religious Studies and who also have a comfort level working with people, career opportunities exist within religion’s corporate partners. To help instruct children in their faith, most Churches use commercially developed and prepared religious textbooks, sacramental preparation books, teacher guides and prayer manuals and a raft of teaching devices, activities, films and games. The companies that produce these resources have career opportunities for graduates with a degree in Religious Studies as sales people and product consultants. These companies want to employ people who are knowledgeable in religious studies and who can work with congregations to help them select, purchase and then effectively use and reuse their products. In this field companies have learned to hire people with competence in the field, people who have a degree in Religious Studies for example, rather than someone who just wants to close a deal.
4. Religious Writer : A degree in Religious Studies usually gives its holder exposure to and familiarity with a wide variety of religious books and pamphlets. Graduates with a degree in Religious Studies may find career options waiting in the field of religious or spiritual writing employed either by a publishing company or working as a freelancer. While these jobs are limited in number, people who have writing skills and expertise gained while working toward a degree in Religious Studies will find more than their fair share of opportunities. There are a surprising number of magazine and book publishers in the field of religion and all are looking for new ideas and approaches to religious topics.
5.Work with Non-Profits: Graduates with a degree in Religious Studies are uniquely prepared for careers in which they work for non-profit organizations. Many of these groups , even those not directly connected to a specific denomination, have spiritual underpinnings or themselves have frequent dealings with other faith based groups. A graduate with a degree in Religious Studies may have just the right credentials to work as a fundraiser, assistant director, promotional speaker, public relations director or event organizer and effectively represent a non-profit group or agency./ Potential employers are likely to recognize that graduates with a degree in Religious Studies are uniquely qualified and prepared to do the day to day work of a non profit .
6.Lay Missioner: Graduates with a degree in Religious Studies may not choose to be ordained ministers, yet they may feel the call to share their faith actively with others. Many faiths today rely on the work of such inspired people to assist with the work of evangelizing and proselytizing here and abroad. . While the job of lay missioner is fraught with financial and personal challenge and sacrifice, it is certainly a path well traveled by graduates with a degree in Religious Studies. Working for a specific denomination or religious order is likely to include a mixture of tasks such as teaching, speaking, organizing fund raising, public relations and front line spiritual work. Graduates with a degree in Religious Studies are likely to accept and adapt to these kinds of professional demands and challenges.
Careers for graduates with a degree in Religious Studies are not likely to be financially lucrative positions, but they are likely to be personally fulfilling and spiritually satisfying. You no longer have to be an ordained minister to have a spiritually based career if you are a graduate with a degree in Religious Studies.