How to Become a Catholic Priest

Read on to learn about becoming a Catholic priest. Here you'll find everything from the educational options and Church requirements to the salary and job duties. Schools offering Christian Studies degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Information at a Glance

A Catholic priest tends to the spiritual needs of the people in his parish, praying with them, taking confessions and delivering sermons. Priests typically have to get an undergraduate degree, go to seminary and do a one-year 'internship' before they are ordained to serve the Church. Take a look at the chart below for a quick sketch of the profession.

Education Required Bachelor's degree and seminary
Education Field of Study Theology, philosophy, religion
Training Required One year as a transitional deacon
Key Skills Leadership, public speaking, compassion, integrity
Job Growth (2016-2026) 8% (for all clergy)*
Median Salary (2017) $47,100 (for all clergy)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Do Catholic Priests Do?

The Catholic Church likens the role of a priest to that of a shepherd guiding a flock of sheep. The priest is in charge of the spiritual growth of his 'flock' and his sacred duty is to lead them in the ways of faith. This can include things like hearing confession from parishioners, leading Mass and doing counseling.

There are two main types of priests: religious priests and diocesan priests. Religious priests are members of a religious order and take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. Diocesan priests don't belong to a particular religious order and generally live with other priests. They serve parishes, territories or dioceses, and help people grow in the Catholic faith.

What Are the Requirements for Being a Priest?

In order to be a Catholic priest, you must fulfill a number of requirements set forth by the Church. You must have a love for Christ and the Church, possess strong moral character, be a male and be psychologically prepared to enter into a lifelong commitment. In addition, certain dioceses may place other restrictions on aspiring priests. Some of these include being within a specific age range, not being a homosexual and not having financial burdens like debt.

What Degree Do You Need to Be a Priest?

For the most part, priests are required to have a bachelor's degree. The degree doesn't need to have a spiritual affiliation, but studying philosophy, theology and religion can help. In addition, priests attend seminary for four years (five years if they haven't yet studied philosophy). To do this, they make a relationship with a parish, go through a serious of interviews and prove their readiness for the profession. The parish will sponsor the aspiring priest for seminary, where he will study theology. Once he holds a degree from a seminary, he will do a year-long 'internship' as a transitional deacon. After this time, he will undergo the Rite of Ordination and will officially be a Catholic priest.

How Much Do Catholic Priests Make?

The focus of a Catholic priest is generally servanthood to God and the Catholic Church. Since they devote their lives to this, they are provided a salary. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary for a clergy member (this includes multiple religions and denominations) was $47,100 as of May 2017.

Will There Be More Employment for Clergy in the Coming Years?

According to the BLS, there were 243,900 clergy members employed in the United States in 2016. They predict the field will add 19,900 jobs between 2016 and 2026. This equals an increase of 8%, which is as fast as the average for all occupations during those years.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • Purdue University Global

    Purdue University Global responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Purdue University Global:

    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Southern New Hampshire University

    Southern New Hampshire University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Southern New Hampshire University:

    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Regent University

    Regent University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Regent University:

    • Doctoral
    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Colorado Christian University

    Colorado Christian University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Colorado Christian University:

    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees
    • Associate Programs

    Online Programs Available

  • Keiser University

    Keiser University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Keiser University:

    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Penn Foster High School

    Penn Foster High School responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Penn Foster High School:

    Online Programs Available

  • New England College

    New England College responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at New England College:

    • Bachelor Degrees
    • Associate Programs

    Online Programs Available

  • Central Christian College of Kansas

    Central Christian College of Kansas responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Central Christian College of Kansas:

    • Associate Programs

    Online Programs Available

  • Wayland Baptist University

    Campus Locations:

    • Texas: Plainview
  • Ursuline College

    Campus Locations:

    • Ohio: Pepper Pike
  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. Next »