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Religious Leader

Jan 2024
Career of the Month
church interior - aisle and pews

Key Facts

Starter Salary
Experienced Salary
Working Hours
37-39 hours a week


The role of a religious leader is to give spiritual support and guidance to their members, as well as leading religious services and other events.

In the UK the main religions are: Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Sikhism, although there are many others and each has a different title for their religious leaders. The work can include leading services and prayers, writing sermons that give teaching on the religion, running various classes to do with the religion, visiting or having meetings with various members of the congregation, and supporting people who may have issues. There is also work connected with naming, marriage and funeral ceremonies.

Religious leaders are involved in other aspects of their community, working with other groups, agencies and those of other faiths, to bring understanding and to develop community cohesion.

People who do this work have a strong commitment to their religion; they have leadership and communication skills and are able to motivate others.

What it takes

What it takes:

  • knowledge of philosophy and religion
  • sensitivity and understanding
  • customer service skills
  • leadership skills
  • the ability to work well with others
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • the ability to use your initiative
  • knowledge of teaching and the ability to design courses
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

Day to day

Day to day:

Your duties will depend on your faith, but may include

  • praying and studying your religion
  • encouraging commitment to the faith
  • leading regular religious services or ceremonies
  • conducting services and ceremonies for religious festivals, holy days and events such as births, marriages and deaths
  • explaining the meaning of your faith's teachings
  • educating people who are converting to your faith
  • supporting people at difficult times in their lives
  • representing your faith within the community
  • being a role model for your followers
  • meeting representatives of other faiths and communities
  • fundraising and doing administration

You could work in an office, from home, in a prison, in a place of worship or in a hospital.

You may wear a uniform.

Your working environment may be emotionally demanding.

Salary comparisons as a Religious Leader across the UK - heat map


There are no specific requirements for Religious Leader, but it is best to discuss this with your teacher or careers adviser.

Academic and Vocational Notes

Becoming a religious leader requires a strong belief and is usually seen as a calling rather than a career choice. There are different entry routes for different religions and some have strict guidelines on who can become a leader.

A good starting point is to talk things over with your own religious leader; they can give you information on how to train.

Depending on your faith, preparation to become a religious leader can involve study (in some cases up to degree and postgraduate level), religious instruction, mentoring, experience working in the community and/or time spent meditating. The length of time taken to train will depend on the religion that you are following.

It is possible to train as a minister in the Christian faith through an apprenticeship.

Work Based Training Notes

Once trained as a religious leader, you are either invited to apply for posts or you will be allocated one.

With experience, you may be able to apply for more responsible positions or become a religious leader (chaplain) within a hospital, the armed forces or a prison, for example. Some religious leaders spend time overseas, e.g. working with humanitarian organisations, or move into religious teaching.

Other Routes

Whilst these are the usual routes to this career, there can be alternatives. You will be able to discuss these with your adviser.

Essential Skills

Essential skills typically required to be successful in this career.

Essential skills to be a Religious Leader

Academic and Vocational Notes

Most machine learning engineers have a degree in a related area such as computer science, data science or software engineering, however many employers also look for a postgraduate qualification in a subject that includes machine learning or in a closely related area such as artificial intelligence or data science. Always check course content and entry requirements with individual institutions as they vary.

Apprenticeships can lead to further training in machine learning; vacancies are advertised locally, with training and course providers and on the Government's apprenticeships website.

It may also be possible to enter this career with evidence of experience and through self-teaching via online courses.

Work Based Training Notes

It is possible to progress into this career with experience in similar roles such as in data science or software engineering or development; some additional learning may be required.

Rapid advancements in technology requires people in this work to be continuously updating their skills and knowledge.

Other Routes

Whilst these are the usual routes to this career, there can be alternatives. You will be able to discuss these with your adviser.

routes into a career as a Religious Leader chart
Some data provided by NCS. May contain public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.

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