Serving as a support system for a senior pastor of a church, an associate (or junior or assistant) pastor is much more than the right-hand man (or woman) of clergy. He or she plays a significant role in cultivating the goals of a congregation or parish. Not only do they help oversee faith leaders, participate in religious education activities, and assist in leading a ministry (like a youth or recreation group), assistant pastors are often in preparation to one day become a senior pastor themselves.

Job Activities & Responsibilities

Associate pastors are generally a full-time position that reports to the senior pastor.

He or she must be prepared to stand in for a senior pastor when necessary, from conducting ministries outside of the church (like performing a wedding) to preaching at an event. Assistant pastors help support the efforts of a senior pastor, such as drumming up interest in a new Bible studies group or meeting with church visitors looking to grow in their faith. Some associate pastors help with budget management and tracking expenses, oversee church volunteers, contribute to office

 administration, and plan events for the congregation.

Assistant pastors may also assume the following day-to-day responsibilities:

  • Helping plan and prepare for sermons
  • Assisting in outreach and missions duties
  • Providing training, support, prayer and guidance to parishioners
  • Conducting biblical counseling sessions with church members
  • Attending ministry conferences


Associate pastors are usually ordained ministers who have completed formal religion training at a seminary, college or university (and usually one that is specific to denomination). Preferred job candidates are expected to have at least a bachelor’s degree in Biblical studies or a related field, like religion or theology. The most desirable candidate generally completes years of experience as a staff member related to ministry leadership to prepare for the position. The overall length of required training varies according to specific denominations.

Career Salary & Job Outlook

Full-time, salaried positions for associate pastors often fall within the $40,000 to $45,000 yearly salary range. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median yearly pay for clergy is $47,100. Various factors, such as geographic location, years of experience, education and church denomination, all play a role in the annual salary for this position. With national job trends varying by organization and region, career resources (such as cite the number of jobs for pastors is expected to increase by 10% over the next ten years. Churches, congregations and parishes with larger numbers tend to offer more job openings, and will have additional opportunities for assistant pastors to find employment.

Q and A With Brian Stroh

Brian Stroh


What made you choose to be a pastor or associate pastor?
I wanted to be a pastor since I was in high school. My faith is an important aspect of my life and my skills aligned well working for a church.
Do you have a degree?
Have you found that it has made life easier or harder? I have a bachelor’s in business administration and a master’s of divinity. Both degrees have served me well. My business degree has been most useful with the day to day aspects of my job as an associate pastor. The master’s degree is also useful and gives me options should I desire to become a senior pastor. I was grateful to graduate with both degrees and not a lot of student loan debt so in that sense it’s made life easier. I know classmates, though, with debt loads much higher than mine and it’s made life challenging.What are your job duties?I essentially oversee the church’s day to day operations:
Alongside lead pastor, long range planning and executing vision for church and community
Oversee finances, execute approved budgets, manage fundraising alongside finance elder
Oversee staff and HR- pay and benefits, work performance, strategic planning and development
Oversee local and global initiatives- local opportunities include partnering with Cleveland Elementary and our orphan care ministry; global includes a high school we’re building in Ottoro, Ethiopia, Africa
Marketing and social media alongside administrative assistant
Oversee facility repairs and maintenance alongside facility elder and team
Worship teaching and pastoral care as neededWhat kind of salary does an associate pastor make?
I am sure there is a wide range of salary ranges. The database we use factors in criteria like church size, church budget, region of country. how many are on staff, how many years experience, etc. Range can be anywhere from 45k to 80k+.

Have you been happy with your career?
I have been. The way I work as an associate (my official title is executive pastor) gives me great freedom to serve the church and the community in unique and impactful ways. For the last 10 years, I have pioneered our church’s partnership with Cleveland Elementary, one of our city’s poorest schools, and recently wrote a book about our partnership and seeking other churches to enter into similar partnerships.

Would you have changed anything? No
Was it weird or scary to transition into a pastor role when the time was right?
I was a youth pastor before an associate and there was some fear there moving from working with students to working with adults and other behind the scenes aspects of the church.