How do pastors make money

What priests deserve

Reading time: 2 minutes

Being a priest is a job for life. At the beginning you earn 22,400 euros gross per year, after a few years around 36,000

First, a definition of the term: there are only priests in the Catholic Church. They are consecrated and will remain so for a lifetime. In the Protestant Church there is no ordination, which is why pastors are the official equivalent of priests. The Protestant pastor's office is also open to women and marriage is allowed.

The main tasks of a priest include pastoral care, the proclamation of the contents of religion, the dispensing of the sacraments and the holding of the liturgy. Her everyday life consists of accompanying baptisms, weddings or funerals, but also of bureaucratic activities. Sunday services and the management of a parish are tasks that require not only spiritual knowledge but also skill in economic and organizational areas.

Spiritual accompaniment

Pastors lead a parish spiritually and economically and are supported by the chaplain. In order to become a pastor himself, a chaplain has to complete a 5-year professional training course, during which he acquires bureaucratic, accounting and canonical skills, among other things. Some priests are also heads of diocesan offices or larger institutions such as schools or educational institutions. There is also the possibility of working in schools, universities, hospitals, prisons, in emergency pastoral care or in therapeutic or spiritual support.

As pastors, priests need a good understanding of human nature and a feeling for people's joys and worries, a high level of helpfulness, empathy, and ability to communicate and deal with conflict. In addition, a priest should have previously led a spiritual life and lived with it in the church.

Priest training

Training to become a priest is based on four pillars - human, theological, pastoral and spiritual qualifications - and begins with a one-year preparatory course, which includes an introduction to the spiritual life, psychological preparation as well as a six-week social internship and a stay in a Bible school in Israel includes. In addition, a prospective priest must have completed a degree in theology at a university and usually have attended a seminary for at least four years in order to be ordained a priest. The pastoral office also offers ongoing training for priests, some of which are compulsory.

With regard to their pastoral ministry in the church, priests are not employees in the sense of labor law. Therefore, no weekly working hours or overtime information can be given with regard to the priestly service. Rather, it is about availability for the respective task. However, there is one day off per week.

Secular priest

For the first 25 years of service, priests are entitled to four weeks of vacation and one week of retirement per year for retreat. After 25 years of service or from the age of 50, the vacation entitlement increases to five weeks. Chaplains and pastors also have a right of residence during their service that enables them to live cheaply. According to canon law, the respective bishop has to take care of retired priests financially until they die.

So-called secular priests - those who have been trained in the seminary - receive their salaries from the respective dioceses.

A chaplain first involves Starting salary of around 22,400 euros gross per year, the salary of a Catholic pastor starts at 28,500 euros. The income increases every two years, so that a priest earns around 36,000 euros gross per year after a few years of service.

In comparison, the starting salary of a Protestant pastor, which is paid out by the respective church according to the collective agreement, starts at 35,500 euros gross and levels off at 42,500 euros after a few years of service. This glaring difference is due to the fact that Catholic priests have no family to support and live alone. This is one of the reasons why priests like to speak of their work as a calling rather than a profession.


Conrad Pramböck is an international salary expert and managing director of Upstyle Consulting. He has been advising companies on salaries for over 20 years.


You might also be interested in: