Salary: How much do YOU get paid? How much should you?
  • marajoymarajoy
    Posts: 762
    I mentioned at the beginning a friend of mine who gets paid $50 a service... This is at a parish whose weekly collection is occasionally FORTY THOUSAND dollars. (There are 6 weekend masses.) I kid you not. (That's a 4, with 4 zeros after it.)

    Now, I would call THAT exploitation. (What else could the church be possibly spending that money on!?!)

    But...for those of us trying to figure out how much we should accept at a church much smaller than that? I wonder what percentage of the budget would be the *max* we could expect?
    Like my example given in my last post, if the church gets $3000 a week... they aren't going to be able to pay me 10% of the budget, which would be $150 each for 2 services. (I'm ending up with $75 each, for $150 total, which is 1/20th of the budget, and this church pays another organist/cantor for another Mass.)

    I wonder what is fair for the musician to expect or hope for in similar situations? I don't want to exploit the church, and like has been oft' pointed out...most of us aren't in it for the money! If it's a church that's going to appreciate my music, and especially let me do more of what I want, then I'm going to tolerate less money.
  • PaixGioiaAmorPaixGioiaAmor
    Posts: 1,351
    Just a note - the collection amount doesn't tell the whole story.

    I worked at a parish whose weekly collection was $35,000 - $40,000. The reason was the included tuition for the school into the collection, since technically tuition wasn't charged. When you got down to it, the collection was really more like $12,000 - $15,000 a week.

    They paid me decently, in accord with NPM guidelines, but still - it's not like they were rolling in money as you might have thought had you perused their bulletin.
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,729
    "In too many cases I have observed that when a priest says he doesn't have the money, what he means is he isn't going to spend the money that he very well does have on liturgy and music."

    Bingo. The money is ALWAYS there. Always. If there isn't money for music, there probably isn't money for anything else.

    I'm frankly shocked at all the stipend musicians reporting. I'm salaried. Have been for the past six years. Wouldn't consider anything else, except as pick-up work. The church should have a paid music director, other organists hired as needed. A music director can oversee the whole program and lead it where it needs to be led. An organist showing up at Sunday will just always pick his favorite four hymns.

    I don't have experience with the AU, though I have visited some other breakaway Anglican parishes before (namely in the Anglican Catholic Church). I can tell you that the organists I've heard didn't deserve to make a nickel, let alone a salary. If the parish is small, they do have to (proportionally) decrease their needs, and a lot of breakaway parishes (Anglican or otherwise) are usually quite small. A parish of 40 shouldn't expect to have five Sunday Masses, two Saturday Masses, and an organist and choir at all.
    Thanked by 2Ben Yanke tomboysuze
  • DougS
    Posts: 792
    Benefits for full-time employees can also vary widely from diocese to diocese. It can really pay, literally, to do some research before you accept a position.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 5,928
    a married person with children should receive enough to support their family according to JP II. has anyone read that teaching?
    Thanked by 1tomboysuze
  • ryandryand
    Posts: 1,115
    What is that specific teaching from JPII?
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 5,928
    don't remember

    something about fair wages for a family
  • ryandryand
    Posts: 1,115
    High priority to know what this is!
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 5,077
    Laborem Exercens (1981): "Just remuneration for the work of an adult who is responsible for a family means remuneration which will suffice for establishing and properly maintaining a family and for providing security for its future. Such remuneration can be given either through what is called a family wage-that is, a single salary given to the head of the family fot his work, sufficient for the needs of the family without the other spouse having to take up gainful employment outside the home"
  • @M. Jackson Osborn:

    Whom were you addressing in the post immediately below mine?
  • YRoT -
    I was addressing kas, who renewed this discussion on 12th March.
  • kas
    Posts: 6
    Hi,

    Once again some interesting thoughts have emerged regarding the whole compensation issue. I do agree with many here who say that the money in MANY parishes is there, but it's an allocation (or lack of) priority that is in question. There is a church nearby me - a very small (non-Catholic) church that has been offering $100 per Sunday service - and they have very few members. Another very small church pays a decent salary for their organist and director and they are barely breaking even budget-wise. My church has high expenses from a previous building project, etc., but there is still plenty available - at least to be able to pay $4-5k per year for an organist. I don't think that would be out-of-line. There is one other organist besides myself who plays every other Saturday vigil service - and he only receives $40 per service. Part of the problem is that we had someone who played over 40 years for absolutely no pay at all. But that may have been his choice - not sure - I've heard conflicting viewpoints on that. I do know that I receive a pretty small percentage of the total amount of the budget which is allotted to paying 5 part-time employees.

    KAS
  • Mike R
    Posts: 106
    This is not just an issue for musicians. In many (most?) parishes, if you were salaried in accord with the AGO guidelines for someone with a Master's degree, you would be making twice as much as any other lay staff member of the parish.
  • BruceL
    Posts: 639
    Mike R, yes, this is true: makes me nervous around budget time, for sure!

    That said, what does the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy say? That music is the greatest sacred art! So, assuming the person you employ is doing the job conscientiously, you're really just fulfilling the teachings of the Church for all to see!

    It's true that this is sometimes a matter of priorities, but it is so frustrating to me to see a parish of 2-3k families that only has volunteer musicians. However, this is not surprising, and culture and Catholic identity has been taking a hit for years now.
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 2,409
    It's true that this is sometimes a matter of priorities, but it is so frustrating to me to see a parish of 2-3k families that only has volunteer musicians. However, this is not surprising, and culture and Catholic identity has been taking a hit for years now.
    Sadly, how utterly and sadly pervasive this is, as I know from first-hand experience.
    Thanked by 2francis tomboysuze
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 5,928
    ryand... chonak beat me to it. thnx chonak, you educated and knowledgeable person.
  • tomboysuzetomboysuze
    Posts: 284
    I have observed the same thing, CHGiffen. And I agree that this is part of Catholic culture that needs to change. This may be common knowledge, but I was once told by a knowledgable priest who was trying to change this himself - that this "habit" was due to a history of Orders doing quite a bit of work in parishes for free - so that the economic structure of the Church as a whole was dependant on volunteerism as a "line on the spreadsheet."

    Having said that - I was also given a "fraternal correction" by a friend, who is a brilliant musician and was woefully underpaid as a D.M. - that volunteers who direct choirs (me, at the time) were seriously undermining the ability of professional Church musicians to earn a decent wage. I was a bit offended, but took it to heart and did approach the pastor for a part time salary, which he agreed to. $10,000.00 at the time - 1996 - for one mass, one or two rehearsals a week as needed -- at a parish that had a vibrant community that attended mass at the parish's historic church as well as a large community that preferred the "Main Church". All Holy Week liturgies were held at the Main Church - I planned and executed one of these and helped at the main church when needed for special liturgies, i.e. Scout Sunday.

    I remained at that salary for several years and was eventually raised $2000.00 when a new pastor came in. I left the position in 2006 - w/same duties, (having turned down the D.M. slot for the whole parish as I couldn't be away from the kids on the weekends.)
    at the salary of $12,000.00. Once I was salaried, my businessman husband (after putting up with my volunteering for 5 years) persuaded me not to take on any more liturgies during the year,without asking for reasonable compensation.

    I should note that the pastor - at my suggestion - did call the local AGO chapter president and discussed my duties and my salary with him. The AGO person told him that I was woefully underpaid, but the Pastor did not take any action - even though he was honest with me about the conversation, to his credit.

    Last month I polled some friends who are directors in parishes that pay pretty well in the DC area and asked them what a reasonable salary would be for a DM slot in a parish right outside DC. They advised $35 - $45 k for a mid-size parish right outside of DC as a starting salary, with benefits. But - I have 19 yrs. of experience, a proven record of success and plan to ask for a rather "low" salary for this area, because I have to hire an organist and the Pastor is also allowing me to hire an assistant who is a trained classical violinist, is learning to conduct and will take responsibility for one of the choirs as well as play the violin for every liturgy. It's a rare situation - but it's the only way I will take the job as the parish is a hot mess with a lot of infighting and their mass attendance is dismal. We'll see.
  • Protasius
    Posts: 353
    You don't know how lucky you are; here in West Germany we get paid 10€=13$ for weekdays and funerals und 15€=20$ for sundays and holydays. For special occasions such as choir accompaniment or latin (no kidding, in the parish I sing at and work for a mass with latin orations, preface and canon is occurring only twice a year) the money is doubled.
  • tomboysuzetomboysuze
    Posts: 284
    That is simply detestable.
  • Ben YankeBen Yanke
    Posts: 2,418
    "in the parish I sing at and work for a mass with latin orations, preface and canon is occurring only twice a year"

    Only twice a year? I think that's twice more than nearly every other parish in the world. :)
  • tomboysuzetomboysuze
    Posts: 284
    I was referring to the $13 and $20 per liturgy-if I understood your post correctly.
    Did I?
  • Protasius
    Posts: 353
    Yes you did; however most organists here earn their money through a regular job, so the money we get for organ playing is rather an expense allowance. The vast majority of organists I know is or has been a teacher, who get paid a fair salary; here almost no one except cathedral organists can earn his lifelihood solely by organ playing.
  • dad29
    Posts: 683
    If two given people are equal in ability, talent, accomplishment and are expected to fulfill the same duties, there should be no difference in their salaries just because one of them is married.

    Umhh, no.

    In the eyes of the Church--which is far different than in the eyes of secular society--raising a family is important, indeed. Therefore, the Church demands that those who are raising families get paid more, according to the size of their families.
  • TL
    Posts: 13
    I just started researching this topic. Here's what I've gathered thus far...

    Church Salaries
    While salaries can range anywhere from $46,991 to $74,606 a year, the average wage of a church choir director is closer to $62,000 a year, revealed a survey by Christianity Today International, a nonprofit ministry association. In fact, this salary was one of the higher for church staff in 2010. Adult ministry pastors, for example, earned $58,877 a year – roughly $3,000 less than the choir directors. Senior pastors, of course, were the highest paid on staff, averaging almost $81,000 a year.
    http://work.chron.com/pay-scale-church-choir-director-13857.html


    NPM - Catholic's National Association of Pastoral Musicians:
    http://www.npm.org/Sections/images/DMMDSalaryGuidelines.pdf#page=11

    Page 11 chart shows:
    2013 - Music Director with Bachelors in Music,
    Base Salary w/ Benefits: $43,245-$61,017
    Base Salary w/o Benefits: $52,512-$79,322
    Suggested Cost of Living annual increase: 3%/year


    According to the National Association of Church Business Administration (NACBA), the median salary for non-ordained Protestant music ministers is $53,700, or $11,000 more than the average for their Catholic peers [$42,700].
    Note: this data includes all music minister positions not just directors of full music ministries.
    See more at: http://www.uscatholic.org/church/2008/07/does-it-pay-work-church#sthash.dshJRJcw.dpuf


    More resources:
    http://tnaog.org/resources/update_files/DL4081CompensationHandbook2012-13.pdf


    Be sure to adjust for regional cost of living vs. national average.
  • Part time, and nowhere near AGO guidelines. Thankfully, I've got two jobs (I teach at a Catholic school, and I am DM in another town).
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 5,592
    When I stop laughing I'll get back to you on this. ROFLMAO.
    Thanked by 1Wendi
  • matthewjmatthewj
    Posts: 1,611
    Ultimately there are a lot of music directors that make the amounts listed.
    There are also a lot of music directors that make more than the amounts listed.
    There are also a lot of music directors that make a tremendous amount less than the amounts listed.

    If you're unhappy with your salary, find a new position.
    If you can't find a new position and are still unhappy with your salary, consider a new career.
    If you don't want to find a new career, then improve your skills (whether that be musical or interviewing/interpersonal).

    More money doesn't necessarily mean happiness. Find the position that makes you happy where you can make a good living. It's out there.
    Thanked by 1Gavin
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 5,592
    If you're unhappy with your salary, find a new position.
    If you can't find a new position and are still unhappy with your salary, consider a new career.
    If you don't want to find a new career, then improve your skills (whether that be musical or interviewing/interpersonal).


    Assumptions are easy to make, but harder to support. My skills are fine and are backed up with two master's degrees in music. I am not unhappy and don't need the money from church music to begin with. I could easily find another church job if I chose to do so, but in this area it would likely be in a Protestant church. The recently retired pastor at the parish where I work spent us into very heavy debt, and the parish is trying to recover. It doesn't have any extra money at the moment. Yes, the salary is small enough to be laughable and I have never gotten a just wage in that job. I stay because longtime friends are there and I won't leave them in a lurch because they are unable to attract or get anyone else. The new pastor is doing a great job trying to rebuild, and I have faith he will eventually succeed. I will ask for more money at that time. So as dear old Snoopy would say, "BLEAH!" LOL.
  • TL
    Posts: 13
    Statistics are a strange animal. Consider the following hypothetical list of 13 peoples' salaries:
    $0.00
    $2,000.00
    $3,000.00
    $5,000.00
    $8,000.00
    $12,000.00
    $17,000.00
    $23,000.00
    $30,000.00
    $38,000.00
    $47,000.00
    $75,000.00
    $100,000.00

    The average is $27,692.31
    The median is $17,000.00

    Now consider this - there are 5 "people" on this list who make $8k or less. They see that the median is more than double their salary and the average is nearly 3 times their salary.
    Yet, only 38% of the "people" in this list make more than the average.

    So what?!? Just keep in mind the difference between average and median. A few extreme salaries can significantly impact the average. The median is less impacted by a few extremes. I often wonder if these surveys exclude the many folks who's Music Job has a salary of $0.00. If those folks were included, what might the numbers say...
  • Kathy
    Posts: 3,620
    I think a lot of people have truly settled in a location and that can be very limiting, regarding opportunities. Always a lot of tradeoffs in life!
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 2,409
    They see that the median is more than double their salary and the average is nearly 3 times their salary.

    Actually, the average is MORE than 3 times their salary, even for the one making $8,000, since 3 x $8,000 = $24,000.

    Note also that, as is typical with skewed income distributions, the top two people in this example earn a total of $175,000 which is very nearly 50% of the total income ($360,000) earned by all 13 people.

    Looking up from the bottom, the bottom 4 people earn only a total of $18,000, just 5% of the total amount earned by everyone.
  • hartleymartin
    Posts: 1,322
    How much do I get paid? Not enough.
    How much should I get paid? About twice what I'm getting now.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 5,592
    I think a lot of people have truly settled in a location and that can be very limiting, regarding opportunities. Always a lot of tradeoffs in life!


    Very true. If we all abandoned the parishes for the great churches and cathedrals, music would likely deteriorate even more in the parish churches. Someone has to do those jobs, and do them well. It's not all about money. I suspect the stresses of dealing with even more people might be greater in the cathedrals. Worth it? I am not sure.

    How much do I get paid? Not enough.
    How much should I get paid? About twice what I'm getting now.


    Preach on, brother. You speak the truth!
  • The salary guidelines have a limited but worthwhile use, as far as I can tell: They allow me to say, at a minimum, that at least two large national organizations subscribe to the idea that x is a fair wage range in my field. More broadly, they help establish that church music IS a field at all, and that there is an ongoing national conversation about salary and benefits. I'm not sure their use extends much beyond that, but at least it's a start. For some pastors (even well-meaning ones), it is a revelation that there is some national frame of reference in which to have a conversation about salary for this particular job. In other words, while they have a right to pull a number out of thin air, it might not be very attractive or competitive...
    At the least, it enables the dialogue between musician and employer to take on a different dynamic. For example, you might say to the pastor "Father, I will accept this position even though the salary is only half of what would be competitive in my field. Because [Reason - I love the parish, I love the vision, I love living in this area - whatever]." OR the priest might say to a musician or parish council "we are paying considerably more than a good standard salary in the field, because we want to be competitive - we want the very best talent and leadership money can buy."

    I do believe that everyone, from volunteers to people over the salary range, should explicitly reference these pay scales in dialogue with the pastor. Don't just glibly say "the scales are worthless and unrealistic" - instead, use them for a reference point in planning, vision, and dialogue. That's one of the best ways to help establish that church music is a serious profession, not disposable. Even if you aren't at the salary range yet, maybe it can be a long-term goal for the priest or parish.
    Thanked by 2teachermom24 TL
  • matthewjmatthewj
    Posts: 1,611
    Also, I might note that the NPM Scale (the one with all the adding and math) almost always will bring a Catholic Musician a higher salary level than the AGO Scale. The AGO Scale, I think, usually imagines Protestant churches with one or two choirs and one or two Sunday services. Most full-time Catholic jobs have two or three choirs and far more Masses.
  • bonniebede
    Posts: 312
    I thought that I better convert my salary to US dollars from euros if I want to contribute a comment here, but it still came out as 0.
    Oh well.
    >:-)
  • I am paid $100 per service. This includes once-weekly rehearsal, Sundays, weddings, funerals, and every additional service for Christmas and Easter. This year the church is having an early 4:00 Christmas Eve service and then the 11pm service, so I'll get an additional $100 which is nice. I've also played violin for some of their other functions and made extra money doing that.

    Sure I wish the job paid more, but it's already proven to lead to other opportunities and that is important to me. Someone might know someone else who needs wedding music, or whatever else, and they recommend me- Bam, more money made!

    I don't expect my position to be my primary source of income, as most of that comes from my orchestral gigs and other places. It's a nice supplement, and I work with really fantastic people who are passionate about music, and honestly I don't think there's any amount of money that could pull me away from that. As they say, if you do what you love for work it's a vacation every day!

  • hartleymartin
    Posts: 1,322
    The real money for church organists is in weddings and funerals which attract a premium rate. Weddings, because of the invariable headaches that go with them, and funerals because they are invariably short-notice.
  • I am only an organist, and I am paid $70 per Mass and $35 for each rehearsal with the choir, so September-May I guess I get $105 per Mass, and in $70 in the summer.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 5,928
    you should always talk PAY before you PLAY.
  • TL
    Posts: 13
    Music Leadership (director, conductor, performer) is often a position where the church requires a specialized degree as a condition of employment. There are similar expectations for the Pastor and Director of Education. These degrees aren't cheap to obtain. Thus, the wages for such skilled positions should be appropriate.

    I fear that the high volume of "volunteer" leadership has skewed the expectation of the Catholic Church leadership's market rate for such skilled labor.

    I wonder how things would be if all degree-holding "volunteers" required a salary. If they are so moved to volunteer their time and talent, then they can tithe 100% of their pay back to the church. By doing this, the church has an accurate assessment of what it really costs to have the staff on hand. If this loving volunteer should have to move to another town, the church would already know what to expect when seeking a replacement, who might not be so giving as their predecessor.

    As a volunteer with a specialized degree doing staff-level work for free, you are devaluing your talent, skill, and knowledge and that of your colleagues.

    I recognize that there are a number of "non-degreed" volunteers out there, but I am thinking about just the "volunteers" with a specialized degree.
  • TL you make some good points, and I agree that many churches do not understand the value of the work volunteers do. However, I think that salary or career minded volunteers can use their time spent working for free as a stepping stone to a paid position. My aunt volunteered at a local hospital while she was earning her degree in medical billing. I remember my mom asking her why she was spending so much time volunteering instead of working a paid job, but my aunt's experience as a volunteer eventually landed her a very high paying job. No experience is wasted, at least not if one has the right attitude.
    This being said, the pianist at my church has been playing for free for decades. She has a degree in performance and even at her advanced age of 80 still performs at a high level of skill and enthusiasm. She is also a family friend and colleague, and I have pondered the future and if/when she stops playing if I should apply for her position. I would much rather be playing at my home church, but I would expect a salary at least equal if not more than my current salary. As you said, the church has probably gotten too used to getting "something for nothing", so I wonder very much what the future of her position will be. I hold two degrees in music and have approximately $62,000 of debt to pay off from my academic pursuits, so playing for free isn't something I try to make a habit of.
  • TL
    Posts: 13
    FidemInFidebus, your example at your church is exactly what my point is about. Church finance councils and leadership need to know what it really costs to deliver what they are accustomed to. As a music minister who requires a salary and tithes it back, the church budgets and finances will reflect the actual costs, but have offsetting revenue. I'm sure it is not perfect net $0 with taxes, but it is better than either alternative (purely free labor, or fully paid without any tithe). It is better for both involved. The individual doesn't have to put "volunteer" on their resume, either. They are being paid for their skill and work. They just choose to put that income directly back into the church.
    Thanked by 1eft94530
  • R J StoveR J Stove
    Posts: 290
    Payments for organists are going to vary by country, I should imagine, as well as according to different areas within the same country. Australia doesn't have the AGO scale.

    Nevertheless, there is a broad consensus as to what organists in major Australian cities (I don't mean any organist who is fortunate enough to occupy that rare thing, an Australian cathedral post) will receive for standard playing. For what it might be worth, I will, in most instances (I live in Australia's second-largest metropolis), get paid $100 per ceremony. A wedding or a funeral will quite often result in a bigger payment than that.

    Don't forget, not all countries are anything like as fortunate as America in terms of colleges which offer any types of music degrees, let alone organ degrees, let alone those organ-and-sacred-music degrees in which the U.S.A. appears, to an outsider, so abundant. (Any organist in Australia who does have such a degree, probably obtained it abroad.)

    I have been a paid organist, more Sundays than not, for almost two decades now; but I possess no music degree. All the organ-playing examinations which I have passed since 2002, I passed purely in a private capacity, with no academic affiliation.

    If anything, Australian Catholicism was historically even more prone to relying on musical volunteers than American Catholicism used to be. Such reliance tended to be exacerbated in Australia by the staggeringly powerful impact until, say, the 1980s - an impact far greater than anything most Americans have ever experienced - of British culture. Unhappy by-products of that culture (there were of course good things about it as well) included seemingly endless indulgence toward amateurism, and a consequent near-deification of "genius for muddling through". Happily, this is starting to change.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen CharlesW
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,729
    RJ, are you then saying that salaried organist/choirmaster positions are in fact quite rare in Australia?

    I never understand people getting paid per service, as though that's all we do is play for the service and go home.
  • stulte
    Posts: 3
    I never understand people getting paid per service, as though that's all we do is play for the service and go home.


    I guess it depends if what you get paid for that service is enough to compensate you both for the prep/travel time and the actual Mass. For me, I have a Bachelor of Music degree, but make my living in corporate America. I still keep up my skills though and sang for a EF Requiem last week after work. I got paid $125. I know the EF Requiem Mass quite well. So, my time investment between rehearsal, driving and Mass was probably around 3 hours. For occasional work at a parish that's not my own, I was happy.
  • matthewjmatthewj
    Posts: 1,611
    RJ, are you then saying that salaried organist/choirmaster positions are in fact quite rare in Australia?

    I never understand people getting paid per service, as though that's all we do is play for the service and go home.


    This is also the case in Canada. In my home Diocese - quite a large one - there were 2 salaried full-time musicians.
    Thanked by 1R J Stove
  • R J StoveR J Stove
    Posts: 290
    Gavin writes as follows:
    RJ, are you then saying that salaried organist/choirmaster positions are in fact quite rare in Australia? I never understand people getting paid per service, as though that's all we do is play for the service and go home.


    Yes, that is precisely what I am saying about Australia. To judge by Matthewj's comment, the Canadian situation would appear to be eminently comparable.

    Of course someone who was working at a cathedral in Sydney or Melbourne, at least - I can't speak for the other cities in Australia with a population of >1,000,000, let alone smaller places - would be getting a proper salary. (How much, I don't know, though it would be decent enough, given that according to a recent Economist survey, both Sydney and Melbourne are far more expensive to live in than even New York or Los Angeles.)

    Still, the rest of us antipodeans - and as I mentioned earlier, "I have been a paid organist, more Sundays than not, for almost two decades now" - are paid purely for each service at which we perform. This is not simply a Catholic thing; organists who routinely officiate at 90% of Protestant churches in Australia would have the same experience of wholly casual employment.
  • ghmus7
    Posts: 483
    When all is said and done, we complain, but this country is the best for church music employment. There are simply very few full time positions in europe. All the cathedral organists that I know of have to have a second ir third job to make ends meet.
    Thanked by 1R J Stove
  • matthewjmatthewj
    Posts: 1,611
    Very true.

    They would have to drag me, kicking and screaming, to get me to live in Canada again.