How much should I be making?

Photo Courtesy of owaief89

     Another question I get asked ALOT via email and Facebook by other women who are also in youth ministry is..."How do I know if I am being payed fairly or being taken for a ride?"  Unfortunately, most youth workers (regardless of gender) get payed WAY LESS than they should be. It's also true because of gender, a lot of women in youth ministry get paid less than the guys and don't get the opportunities many men in our field get. As a result, many women push themselves harder to achieve because we have to. Because many job opportunities in youth ministry are for men, not women. Most camps, conferences, and retreats hire the boys as speakers and not us gals. I've heard it over and over..."sorry we are looking for God's MAN for the job." 
From Group Salary Survey 2012
     So yup we women can be ambitious, work hard, and when we occasionally upstage the guys in our lives, they sometimes squirm a little. When we get speaking gigs, or cool things happen in our careers, I've seen (and heard from several other women) that sometimes the men we work with or hang out with get weird on us. Perhaps questioning your motives. They often don't realize how much harder we have to perform and prove ourselves as "a high capacity candidate" with amazing teaching skills....because if we do not, we don't stand a chance at landing the jobs, promotions, and speaking invitations that come so easily to them. This isn't true in every context, but it's true more often than not. 
     So how do you know if you are getting paid fairly? Perhaps you want to pay (all) of your bills and dream of being able to afford a real vacation someday.  Getting paid fairly would sure help with that, huh? My general rule of thumb is to see what teachers are making in your area. Your job is in many ways similar to school teachers. Only your summers and breaks are usually much busier (with camps and mission trips) than a teacher's. Look at your education and years of experience. Here is a sample pay schedule for teacher's in my area (cost of living is high here). Note this is their salary for only 185 work days!!!  How many MORE days than this do you work?? School teachers also get retirement and medical benefits. So according to this chart...based on my education (Bachelors + Master's) and my years of experience...(18) I should be making $79k a year....That should be my salary. Or something close to that (note: Southern California cost of living is about 30% higher than most every where else). 

     What should your salary be based on teachers in your area? If you are getting paid WAY LESS than what a teacher does (like not even step 1) you might be grossly under paid. Especially if you have a degree and completed a ministry internship (equivalent to student teaching).  If you are supervising multiple staff and responsible for the well being of 100's of families, and required to hit huge benchmarks (think department head in a large church = principal or VP of a school) you should be paid accordingly. Here is a handy cost of living calculator to help compare one area to another. 

(above) Salary scale for teachers in the Grossmont Union School District in San Diego, Ca 
(2011-2012 school year)

Here (below) is a 2012 teacher salary scale from another part of the country
(a Northern-Mid America State)
with a 30% less cost of living 

     Here is another rule of thumb...look online at the effective salaries of larger denominations. Here is a sample chart below from the PCUSA board of pensions for associate pastors. This is a handy pay schedule for churches because it takes church size into consideration. Another great resource can be found HERE from the Presbyterian Mission Agency on the issue of just compensation, Take a look. If you want a more depressing look at youth pastor pay look at Group's Salary Survey (I think they publish one every two years)! It will give you a realistic (and kinda sad) look at what youth pastor's actually get paid across the USA.
     I know no one chooses to go into ministry for the money (duh!) but we do have families to take care of. Maybe you dream of being able to send your kids to college someday and being able to pay for their braces. I don't want to see hoards of old youth workers living on the street or working at Walmart in their old age because they have ZERO saved for retirement. If a church wants to hire a professional... they need to offer professional level compensation. Churches often get what they pay for.  So there ya go ladies (and gentlemen)...the answer to the money questions I get asked A LOT. "How much should I be making as a professional, full time youth worker?" AND "How do I know if I am being payed fairly or being taken for a ride?" 

You should make as much as a public school teacher. What do you think? Should youth workers get paid the same as teachers?


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email youthleadergina@gmail.com  or by leaving a comment. 


  1. Jackson Fong7/14/2013

    Wow. Serious eye opener. I've been in youth ministry over 15 years and I've never approached the lowest percentile bracket at the lowest end. Thank you for doing the research! Coworkers in Christ, stay informed, keep working hard and don't give up!

  2. Jackson Fong7/14/2013

    Wow. Serious eye opener, I've been working in Youth ministry for over 15 years and I haven't approached the lowest bracket yet. Some deep things to consider. Coworkers in Christ, stay informed, keep pressing on, don't give up and keep Christ First!

  3. Jackson, thanks for stopping by and commenting. It is an eye opener for sure! Most of us don't sit around talking about how much we make (or how little!) Pay is a tough subject to talk about in ministry. I've seen churches who wish to pay more, but can't...and churches who can pay more but don't. It's good to have a basic idea of "just compensation."


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