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Rabbi Job Description, Career as a Rabbi, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training: Completion of Seminary School

Average Salary: $55,000 Annually

Job Outlook: Very Good

Job Description

Rabbis work within a congregation, serving the spiritual needs of their people. As with any form of organized religion, they work to provide answers to questions and support in every sense of the word. They have a bit more freedom than some other forms of religion as they are responsible to a board of trustees within their congregation rather than a religious hierarchy. Therefore a rabbi’s specific responsibilities may vary quite dramatically based on the direction of the board and the needs of the congregation.

Rabbis work to perform religious ceremonies associated with major life events. These may include weddings, funerals, bar and bat mitzvahs, and any other life events. They may perform brists or baby naming ceremonies for the newest members of the parish. They may travel to where there is a need from the members of their congregation and care for them if they are sick or disabled. Rabbis often perform a variety of services both in the congregation and outside of it as the need arises.

They perform weekly services for the members of their congregation. They handle all of the service and provide any speech or sermon that may be necessary as a part of that ceremony. They work to educate the members of their congregation and this may be with the youth or to those converting. They are also available to provide religious or emotional encouragement or support as the members of their congregation need it. Rabbis are often viewed an extension of the family, and are looked to for a variety of different purposes.

Rabbis are an active part of their congregation. They are often involved in the financial aspects of the congregation, and handle or are involved with many of the decisions associated with this activity. They are often an integral part of the management team as well as the religious side of things, so they may have a number of administrative responsibilities. They create a community within their congregation and therefore must work on whatever responsibilities come their way.

Education and Training Requirements

Though it is expected that most rabbis have bachelor’s or master’s degree in an academic discipline, this isn’t where the emphasis is put in terms of educational requirements. Though having a degree is nice, the most important educational requirement is that of seminary work. Oftentimes when a rabbi graduates from seminary they receive a master’s degree in Hebrew letters. There are many options in terms of specialization, and they often have to do with the denomination of Judaism that the rabbi represents. The most important thing though is that a rabbi completes seminary school as this will provide the most important knowledge and basis for their job.

Getting the Job

Initially education plays a rather large factor in getting a job as a rabbi. Most congregations want to see that a rabbi has received all of the necessary education and that they have a thorough understanding of how the Jewish religion works overall. Moving forward, having experience as a rabbi and as a professional will play into the ability to get the job. It is important for a rabbi to have solid experience working in a variety of different roles, as this will play into their ability to move up within their career. Experience and education make a very important combination in a rabbi’s ability to move up within their career.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook, and Career Development

There is good news for those interested or already serving as rabbis. There is expected to be continued demand for each of the different denominations of the Jewish religion. This means that there are expected to be increased job opportunities, as well as overall demand for those interested in a career in this field. Those just entering the field may find it rather easy to find a position somewhere. Those interested in career advancement may find that they have plenty of opportunities to choose from, particularly if they have good solid experience.

Working Conditions and Environment

This is definitely not a “9 to 5” type of job, and therefore there can be expected to be some overtime associated with the position. Rabbis are often available to the members of their congregation and this may mean some long days and weekends of course. There may be stress involved in helping out members of the congregation and balancing administrative responsibilities, but this is something that rabbis tend to embrace. This is a very rewarding job to those interested in it, and they often don’t mind the long hours or stress that comes with it as they are in it to serve and to help those in need. Generally rabbis work within their congregation and have an office of their own, but they often must travel to medical facilities or other religious facilities to handle whatever needs may come up for their congregation and the people of it.

Salary and Benefits

The average salary earned by a rabbi is around $55,000, but there are some rather specific factors that may play into this. The biggest factor is the level of experience that they have, as this will dictate a salary in excess of $85,000 in many cases. The congregation served as well as the geographical location also factor into the salary that a rabbi may earn. Above and beyond the salary, rabbis tend to earn some rather generous benefits. These may include a retirement savings account, living expenses, health insurance, and of course paid time off.

Where to Go for More Information

Rabbinical Council of America
305 Seventh Avenue, 12th Floor
New York, New York 10001
(212) 807-9000

Hebrew Union of College
Brookdale Center
One West 4th Street
New York, NY 10012-1186
(212) 674-5300

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesLaw and Public Service