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Training, Certifications, Skills, Advancement: Clergy




Educational requirements for entry into the clergy vary greatly. Similar to other professional occupations, about 3 out of 4 members of the clergy have completed at least a bachelor’s degree. Many denominations require that clergy complete a bachelor’s degree and a graduate-level program of theological study; others will admit anyone who has been “called” to the vocation. Some faiths do not allow women to become clergy; however, others, mainly in Protestant churches, do. Men and women considering careers in the clergy should consult their religious leaders to verify specific entrance requirements.

Individuals considering a career in the clergy should realize they are choosing not only a career but also a way of life. In fact, most members of the clergy remain in their chosen vocation throughout their lives; in 2002, almost 10 percent of clergy were 65 or older, compared with only 3 percent of workers in all occupations.

Religious leaders must exude confidence and motivation, while remaining tolerant and able to listen to the needs of others. They should be capable of making difficult decisions, working under pressure, and living up to the moral standards set by their faith and community.

The sections that follow provide more detailed information on the three largest groups of clergy: Protestant Ministers, Rabbis, and Roman Catholic Priests.