Members of the clergy are active in many different areas of social and cultural life, and ministry career opportunities are abundant and widely varied. Much ministry work takes place in the setting of local congregations where ministers, priests, and other religious leaders interact directly with a community of worshippers. Other ministry career opportunities revolve around either charitable or evangelical work. A substantial number of work opportunities for members of the clergy involve activity in education or politics.
Specific requirements for members of the clergy vary widely from denomination to denomination. Many faiths and careers require specialized religious education, but this is not universally the case. Ministry career opportunities in the academic world almost always require such certification to ensure quality instruction and meet standards for academic accreditation.
The most visible ministry career opportunities involve direct work with a congregation. Specific requirements for this work vary but often include formal training in a seminary or similar institution. Such work typically involves preaching and explaining scripture, leading a congregation through religious instruction and personal example, and ministering to individual members of a congregation. Anyone interested in pursuing such a career should consult his or her religious leaders to learn more about specific expectations and requirements. Some of these careers may involve work with certain communities, such as soldiers, young people, or victims of disease or abuse.
A second set of ministry career opportunities exists in the areas of conversion and charitable work. Most religions believe in the importance of both charity and preaching to gain new converts, and many combine the two, hoping to provide relief to those who are suffering and a positive example of faith in action. Members of the clergy working in these fields are typically sent to areas where social or economic conditions are dire and where a faith is not well-established. These careers can involve a good deal of personal risk and hardship but offer the opportunity to make an immediate and tangible difference in the world.
Men and women interested in working as religious leaders may also wish to consider ministry career opportunities in education. Religious organizations typically maintain well-developed educational institutions that are often staffed by a mix of laypeople and members of the clergy. These institutions are responsible for the religious education of both future ministers and ordinary members of the faith community.
Political activism is yet another area rich in ministry career opportunities. The leaders of some faiths have deeply-held political views and employ articulate and well-educated spokespeople to present and defend these views. The specific nature of a political ministry varies from nation to nation but can include advising leaders and making public statements of principle on behalf of a faith community.