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Children's Ministry Salary Survey

The results of CHILDREN'S MINISTRY's 1995 National Children's Minister Salary Survey.


Children's ministry is more than money. We all know that. It's not why you chose to dedicate your life to kids, and it's definitely not why you stay in children's ministry.
But let's face it. Money is a reality. The bills have to get paid, and you have to make a living. That's why we conducted a national salary survey of children's ministers in America-to help you determine if you're making a good living.


We discovered that the average overall salary package for children's ministers is $31,668. Not bad pay-unless you live in an area with such a high cost of living that it sucks up every penny you make. One survey respondent who makes above $35,000 noted, "I live in a high income area. Homes start at over $100,000. My salary may look good on paper, but it's not enough to live on here in Chicago."

FACTORS AFFECTING SALARIES
If you look at the regional breakdown of salaries, it looks like there are better places to work for more pay. But is there a more highly paid geographical area for children's ministers? Not really. According to our survey, a salary is a complex issue. More than being determined by a geographical region, four crucial factors can boost your pay:

*Size of church-The more members in your church, the more your church is able to pay. Your salary is probably not as affected, however, by the number of children in your ministry. After all, who controls the purse strings? The adults. You may have under 100 children in your ministry but over 500 adults in your church. Your pay will most likely be higher than if those numbers were transposed.

*Years of experience-The number of years you've ministered to children can increase your financial worth. However, if you've been in the ministry for 23 years and are working for a church with 100 members, don't expect a big salary.

*Education-Your level of education may be the single most important determinant in obtaining a raise. (Not that you'd ever consider asking for a raise. In our survey, 83 percent of children's ministers admitted they've never asked for a raise.)
College graduates in the field of children's ministry average $30,000, people with a seminary master's degree average $37,288, and a seminary doctorate catapults children's ministers up to an average of $42,500. According to our survey, though, you want to choose your institution carefully. It looks like a masters from a non-religious institution does very little to pep up the average salary.

*Gender-There's nothing you can do about this one-"you are who you are!" But as in the secular business world, gender does create a salary gap. That is, men tend to get paid a little more than women. College-educated men make an average salary of $30,682, while their female counterparts average $28,500. Even with a post-graduate degree, male children's ministers average about $500 more than females.

One interesting diversion from this pattern is in the area of marital status. Our survey indicates that the most highly paid person according to marital status is a single female, averaging $38,010. Yet, married males still outearn married females by about $4,000.

SALARY PACKAGE DEFICIENCIES
As you can see from the "Average Salary Package Breakdown for Full-Time Children's Ministers" box, a salary package is more than just a base salary. Not every children's minister receives the same benefits, and there are two areas in current salary packages that are severely lacking.


*Health Insurance-Only 60 percent of our survey respondents report that their church provides health insurance. Of those who do receive health insurance, the contribution is a healthy one-an average of $3,250.

For the 40 percent of children's ministers and their families who are either uninsured or have to seek an outside insurer, Robin Bashor, the principal planner for Bashor and Associates in Colorado, has this advice. "Find an independent broker/financial planner who can look at as many insurance options as possible. This will simplify the research process for you to find the best insurance for your family."

To find a credible broker, ask for referrals or call the Better Business Bureau or your local chamber of commerce. Meet with the financial planner and ask for references of people who've had the same services you require. Then check the references. Bashor says, "Often, it's a gut feeling or a comfort level. When you walk out of this person's office, ask yourself, "Is this someone I'd leave my kids with?' If not, don't use them."

*Retirement/pension contribution-Only 28 percent of respondents know what their church is contributing to Social Security. (To find out how much money you have in this fund, call the Social Security Administration office in your area.) A big mistake for employees anymore is to depend on Social Security for retirement. The average Social Security benefit people will receive at retirement is $860 per month.

When Bashor heard that 52 percent of respondents' churches average only an additional $2,162 contribution annually, he said "Youch!" Bashor again stressed that children's ministers need to find "the advisors who have the knowledge and skill to help them look at their total retirement situation-what their current financial goals are, what resources they have, and the end result they desire."


AVERAGE SALARY PACKAGE BREAKDOWN FOR FULL-TIME CHILDREN'S MINISTERS
(The percentages in parentheses represent how many respondents receive this benefit.)

Average Overall Salary Package $31,668
Average Salary Package
Male $32,188
Female $31,179
Average Base Salary $25,379
Housing Allowance (39 percent) $8,100 Professional Supplies (39 percent) $580
Car/Travel Allowance (49 percent) $981 Contribution to Social Security (28 percent) $2,110
Health Insurance (60 percent) $3,250
Pension/Retirement Contribution (52 percent) $2,162
Continuing Education (58 percent) $791
Average Paid Sick Days* (15 percent) 21 days
Average Paid Vacation Days** (88 percent) 15 days

*Many of our survey respondents say they "get whatever they need."
**Other respondents said they get "all I need."


*n/a signifies that no responses were given in this category.

AVERAGE SALARY BY REGION AND SEX
Male Female
West $27,500 $32,500
South $32,500 $29,167
South Central $29,167 $33,010
North Central $32,500 $22,500
Northeast $35,000 n/a*

AVERAGE SALARY PACKAGE BY SIZE OF CHURCH

0 to 200 Members $29,167
201 to 500 Members $26,591
501 to 1,000 Members $32,925
1,000 to 5,000 Members $34,722

AVERAGE SALARY PACKAGE BY SIZE OF CHILDREN'S MINISTRY

1 to 50 $27,500
51 to 100 $29,500
101 to 200 $31,250
201 to 300 $26,250
301 to 500 $45,051
501 or more $32,500

Average Salary Package of Those Who Say Their Church "ALWAYS MEETS THEIR NEEDS"
$32,389

Average Salary Package of Those Who Say Their Church "USUALLY MEETS THEIR NEEDS"
$27,500

Average Salary Package of Those Who Say Their Church "SELDOM MEETS THEIR NEEDS"
$30,833

AVERAGE SALARY BY YEARS OF CHILDREN'S MINISTRY EXPERIENCE

1 to 2 years $27,500
3 to 5 years $28,125
6 to 10 years $31,250
11 to 15 years $36,667
16 or more years $32,150


EDUCATIONAL LEVELS
High School (0 percent)
College Graduate (49 percent) $30,000
Some Graduate School (15 percent) $28,500
Graduate School (6 percent) $22,500
Seminary Master's Degree (27 percent) $37,228
Seminary Doctorate (3 percent) $42,500


AVERAGE SALARY BY SEX

Male $32,188
Female $31,179

AVERAGE SALARY BY SEX AND EDUCATION
Male Female
High School n/a n/a
College $30,682 $28,500
Postgraduate Degree $35,500 $35,007

AVERAGE SALARY BY MARITAL STATUS
Full-Time
Single Female (15 percent) $38,010
Married Female (36 percent) $28,333
Single Male (3 percent) $27,500
Married Male (46 percent) $32,500


AVERAGE SALARIES OF OTHER PROFESSIONS
(1994 Figures From U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)
Human Resources Director (small organization) $61,200
University Professor $43,900
School Principal $39,200
Teacher (Secondary) $36,000
School Counselor $36,100
Teacher (Elementary) $32,600
Public Relations Account Executive $29,900
Pastor $27,900
Social Worker $26,500
Teacher (Preschool and Kindergarten) $19,500

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