- Offer spiritual and moral guidance, and lead public worship
- You'll need teaching and leadership skills, public speaking & counselling skills
- You may be recommended for higher positions by senior members of your faith
As a religious leader your day-to-day 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 admin
You'll need to be prepared to work long hours. Certain religious ceremonies must be performed at set times of the day or week, and you'll also need to be available to members of your community whenever they need you. You'll perform ceremonies at your place of your worship, and you'll also have an office there or at your own home. Some posts are based permanently in a prison, hospital or with the armed forces. You'll also spend time visiting people in their homes, or in hospitals, schools, prisons or care homes. There may be opportunities to travel within the UK and abroad, to meet other religious leaders or visit holy places. Some faith leaders work as missionaries in remote locations overseas.
This role would be ideal for someone with a strong faith, teaching and leadership skills, public speaking skills, and counselling skills.
Each faith has a different requirement.
The process of becoming a leader can take several years, and is often based on your knowledge, experience and position within the religion.
Each religion has a different way of training its leaders, so the training and the length of time it takes will vary. For many religions the process might include studying at a college or religious training centre, intensive study of your faith's teachings and writings, time alone in contemplation or meditation, experience of working with people in the community, and mentoring and supervision from an experienced leader of your religion.
You could do a church minister degree apprenticeship, if you want to be a religious leader within the Christian tradition.
In some religions, there are rules on who can become a leader and what duties they can carry out.
You may need a degree or postgraduate award for some leadership positions. Most subjects are accepted though theology and philosophy may be particularly useful.
If you want to train to become a leader in your faith, the first thing you should do is ask your own religious leader for advice and guidance.
Becoming a religious leader is a serious commitment that can be seen as a calling as much as a career. As well as a strong belief in your faith and its traditions, you should accept that the work will affect all aspects of your life.
Every religion or faith is structured differently, and career progression will vary from faith to faith. You may be recommended for higher positions by senior members of your faith, or you may have to apply for vacant posts. You may also have opportunities to become involved in teaching, counselling, interfaith relations, writing, or humanitarian and charity work.