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Clergy Salaries: Rabbis Average Higher Salaries Than Priests, Ministers And Imams

Priest

First Posted: 01/13/12 05:05 PM ET Updated: 01/13/12 05:05 PM ET

Ever wonder which religious leaders make the most money?

Among the leaders of the world's major religions, rabbis tend to have higher annual salaries than their Catholic, Christian and Muslim counterparts, according to a new report by Slate.

Both Reform and Conservative rabbis earn an estimated average annual salary of around $140,000, while the median salary for full-time pastors at Protestant churches was just $40,000, the Jewish Daily Forward reports. Catholic priests and Muslim imams make even less, with average salaries of about $25,000 and $30,000 per year, respectively.

In the early 1990s, rabbinical schools across the nation experienced a surge in enrollment as a record number of young people flocked to the training centers, according to The New York Times.

Of course, for many, the motive to become a rabbi isn't necessarily the income.

"Nobody does this for the money, but it's nice to know that Reform rabbis make a good living," Martha Bergadine Zamek of Evanston, Ill. told the Times shortly after receiving her letter of admission to a rabbinical school in 1991.

But the numbers are not always entirely clear, with different surveys showing different results.

For instance, a 2011 survey conducted by PayScale discovered that rabbis had an average annual salary of about $80,000, according to eHow Money. The report points out that the number varies depending on years of experience and where they preach.

And salaries for ministers and pastors among Christian denominations, on the other hand, can sometimes be as high as 400,000, according to the Christian Post.

Compared to other religious leaders, Catholic priests were paid the least, with the Archdiocese of Cincinnati (Ohio) indicating they pay their priests a $26,884 base salary.

Salaries also vary significantly among imams, and, as Slate observes, there isn't a lot of data on pay rates for the Muslim leaders.

However, an imam in Tennessee reported making between $31,000 and $34,000 per year on the online salary site Glassdoor. Similarly, a search of job listing website Simply Hired revealed an average salary of about $41,000 for the career.

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Filed by Ileana Llorens  |