Saturday, April 08, 2006

Salary data, or "where do you get your starting point?"

A recent survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers shows that this year's graduates will likely fare better than in recent years.

CNN reports a summary of the results in a recent article. Even the lowly liberal arts folks (like myself!) show improvement: starting salaries are just below $31,000, which is a 2% increase from last year. Naturally, the hot careers are in media, technology, and engineering.

What does this imply for ministry professionals? Probably not much: sadly, too few churches base their salary packages on the averages of other fields, or even on the average income for the same age, life-stage, or other similar data.

Where do churches get their starting points? My experience is that they find out what other churches are paying for the same type of ministry professional.

Under normal circumstances, this would be a reasonable method. But ministry salaries have languished in the bottom tiers of the income bracket for so long that I fear this is a self-feeding cycle of mediocrity.

(Sometimes churches dare to look outside for information: one church I interviewed with years ago told me they based their Youth Minister's package on the average starting salary for teachers in the local schools, as if I should be relieved, or even impressed. After all, we know that teachers are so well-paid!)

I'm interested: what information sources do churches use to establish salaries? Let me know your experience.

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Saville said...

A church that I belonged to (about 150 members) uses the salary of high school principals in that city as a guide for the Senior Pastor's salary.

Ed said...

Interesting-- that's an improvement, though not far off of what I mentioned. Thanks for that input.