In general, professors of theology must hold a Ph.D. in the field to work at colleges and universities. These academic institutions seek experts in their discipline, and the research required to earn a doctoral degree usually signifies the required expertise in the field. Salaries for theology teachers typically vary by location and title.
In 2012, theology teachers earned an average of $71,210 a year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This was a decrease of 0.5 percent from the previous year, when salaries averaged at $71,620 annually. Of the top 10 percent, salaries often exceeded $116,070. Those in the bottom 10 percent didn’t fare as well, earning less than $33,690 a year.
The wide discrepancy in pay is likely because of variance in earnings by title. A survey by the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources found that new assistant professors of theology started at $50,620, as of 2011. Salaries for established assistant professors averaged $52,241 a year. After four to eight years, assistant professors may then move on to become associate professors. In the field of theology, salaries for associate professors averaged at $59,593 annually. Full professors, on the other hand, earned an average of $74,267 a year.
As with almost any occupation, earnings vary by location. Of the states, professors of theology earned the some of the highest salaries in Massachusetts, at an average of $93,080 a year. Those working in Rhode Island were a close second, bringing home $89,540, while theology professors in New York ranked third, averaging $85,340. In New Jersey and New Hampshire, salaries averaged $85,000 an $84,120, respectively. Some of the lowest reported salaries were in Tennessee, where the average was $54,090, with the bottom 10 percent of earners making less $29,420.
The BLS expects employment for postsecondary teachers as a whole to be favorable. Between 2010 and 2020, the occupation should experience a job growth rate of 17 percent on average. By comparison, this is slightly better than the national average for all U.S. occupations, an estimated 14 percent. With an estimated 22,880 professors of philosophy and religion, such as theology, the 17 percent growth works out to 3,890 new jobs over the course of a decade. Expect additional opportunities to develop as professors retire or leave the field.