A pastoral care worker is someone who has an affinity towards providing emotional, social, and spiritual support. Pastoral care might be your vocational calling if you are socially driven and want to care for members of society. As a pastoral care worker, one’s duties include counseling, education, spiritual health, hospital and prison visits, prayer sessions, memorials, and so on. The main duty is to help people improve on their spiritual dimension of wellness. To summarise the job of a pastoral care worker is mainly healing, sustaining, guiding, and reconciling. Let us know more detail about ‘Pastoral Care Worker: Job Description, Salary And Duties’.
Pastoral Care Worker: Job Description, Salary And Duties
Correlation between pastoral care and pastoral ministry:
Although pastoral care is a separate entity from pastoral ministry, a few factors are overlapping the two. A pastoral care worker is usually appointed by the church by taking into consideration social institutions’ recommendations. Hence in a way, pastoral care also has elements of religion associated with it. There is a wide misconception that occupational options in pastoral care are related specifically to the educational institutions, but growing demand in the field of pastoral care services shows that other institutions where pastoral care workers are employed include nursing homes, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and so on. As a pastoral care worker, your job is directly proportional to building people’s mental and spiritual well-being.
Depending on one’s strengths and the roles that they would like to partake in, they are placed in various institutions. In the USA, as Christianity is the dominant religion, pastoral care workers are usually employed by the church keeping the institutions’ needs and interests in mind.
- To be employed as a pastoral care worker in the USA, a Bachelor’s or Master’s in theology is recommended or equivalent qualification in divinity or pastoral studies.
- Many institutions demand at least one unit of accreditation in Clinical Pastoral Education.
- If you are a member of the ordained clergy or a chaplain, there is a significantly higher percentage of being recruited as a pastoral care worker in comparison to a layman.
- Depending on the institution, some specific qualifications are necessary.
The job of pastoral care professionals in a way is tending to the vulnerable. They usually deal with issues of human frailty and vulnerability, hence issues faced are usually historically and culturally specific. Hence, often you need to have the origin from the country in which you aim to practice pastoral care.
Apart from the ability to pay attention (observe and listen), make a diagnosis (to be able to interpret theologically the cause of suffering and discern what is required), and intervene (to offer accompaniment, guidance, and support), a pastoral care professional requires some common skills, regardless of the institution in which they work, and those include:
- Excellent communication skills
- Notable interpersonal skills
- Leadership skills
- Ability to provide personalized and tailored care
Empathy, self-awareness, and interpersonal sensitivity are all essential skills for effective caregiving and hence become important skills to have to be a pastoral care worker.
Apart from these, a pastoral care professional working in an educational institution would require patience and interest towards children. At a hospital or a prison, they would require the mental strength to deal with the physically and mentally sick. Being a pastoral worker is taxing and hence it is recommended that people who can work efficiently under pressure are important as the job involves conflict and crisis intervention. Most of these institutions also require their pastoral care worker to have a basic knowledge of database management and administration.
According to payscale.com, in the US, an average pastor care worker gets paid $55,630. Your experience determines your base salary, which can be anywhere between $39,000 for beginners to $84,000 for top earners. The first four years in the profession pay around $ 48,000 and see a slow rise in the first 10 years. Beyond this, there is a steady shoot in salary with people earning $68000 over the next 10 years. Statistics also show that there is an increase in the number of openings for pastoral care professionals. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job opportunities in the field of pastoral care are said to see a rise of about 4% by 2029 making it a desirable career to pursue.
Conventional pastoral care looked at areas of
- Healing – Helping people become whole, and find the right direction towards good
- Sustaining – Ministry of comforting
- Guiding – Guidance towards the right thoughts and actions
- Reconciling – Re-establishing broken relationships
- Nurturing – Religious education
- Liberating – Helping people understand the path to salvation
These roles are usually attributed to roles of pastoral care in a religious setting.
For people looking at pastoral care in other institutions, some of the duties that encompass the profession of Pastoral Care includes
- Crisis interventions where the situation of crisis needs to be effectively intercepted.
- Arrange worship services including praise and worship, prayer meetings, and so on
- Allocation of resources by ensuring that patients have support and psychological, sociological, and economic resources that align with their religious leanings
- Documenting and maintaining written records of interactions with patients and their families.
- Conflict resolution where there is a need to mediate disputes to ensure that a positive outcome is achieved.
The most popular field under Pastoral care workers apart from a religious institution is the educational institution. The duties of a pastoral care worker at an educational institution include
- To help students grow in a supportive and safe educational environment.
- To help promote all dimensions of wellness in students, their families, and staff.
- To act as the medium that facilitates a connection between community resources and services with families of students.
Challenges faced by Pastoral Care Workers:
Every job comes with challenges. For pastoral care workers, some of the challenges that they face include:
- Emotional fatigue – Dealing with crises and conflicts every day can be mentally and emotionally taxing and requires mental strength.
- The fix-it syndrome – This is the need to find solutions to all problems, when there is no solution in their work, they are often affected by it.
- Bias in selection – Getting into the profession of pastoral care without actually belonging to the church is extremely difficult. The job is biased in the members that they consider worthy of providing support.
- High levels of expectations – A pastoral care worker is required to be highly qualified when it comes to regulation of emotions, stress management and often it is impossible to have all the qualities that are wanted for a pastoral care worker
- Time constraints – Pastoral care is often conducted on a one-on-one basis. Often, the work exceeds the time that is available for the completion of the same.
- Religious leanings of the country – In the USA, pastoral care workers only belong to the church and there are no openings for non-Christians. There are other countries that don’t believe in the need for a pastoral care worker and finding a job might be a little difficult.
- Difficulty in switching fields – A pastoral care worker requires highly specific qualifications and hence there is difficulty in both entering this work field as well as exiting the field.
Although the number of challenges faced by pastoral care workers is high, research shows people in the field of pastoral care rated their job satisfaction as 4.9/5 which shows that pastoral care professionals are happy at their workplace.
There is a gender difference with males dominating the field of pastoral services at 58.8%. Studies show that getting a job as a pastoral worker in educational institutions is easier for men and in hospitals, it is easier for women to get the job. Rehabilitation centers see an almost equal number of men and women who apply for the role of pastoral care.
Although most jobs have salaries based on the country that their professionals are based on. Pastoral care workers have it slightly different. The cost of living of the state affects the salary that they receive, but along with that the presence of the church and religious community also plays an important role. In the USA, states that have higher numbers of members belonging to the church, tend to pay pastoral care workers better than states that have a smaller church presence.
A pastoral care worker does not have a specific age for retirement, but there is a small amount paid as pension by the church once you have retired to ensure that basic needs are taken care of. But this varies depending on the place you are based on. Major companies that hire pastoral care workers in the United States of America are Universities, schools, and hospitals and you can apply for the job on major websites that are meant for job hunting like indeed.com, glassdoor.com, and so on.
However, if you are interested in providing social support to members of the community and find satisfaction in helping people better their spiritual wellness but aren’t quite sure if pastoral care is the answer, the other related careers that one can explore include Campus Minister, Community Counselor, or Hospice Chaplain.