Becoming a missionary can be a calling from a higher power for many people. One of the questions that people want answered before serving their church is how much they will be paid for their time abroad. This is a difficult question to answer as each religious denomination and church provides funding for missionaries.
According to the Department of Labor, the average religious worker makes approximately $32,070 a year in 2010. This figure can be a little misleading. A missionary who lives outside of the United States for nine months does not pay taxes on income during that year. Additionally, not every missionary is paid for his time. Many fund their own trips to serve their churches.
Mormon missionaries fund their own two-year missions around the globe. Depending on where the individual is traveling, it can cost $19,000 to $30,000 per year for the missionary to survive. Families save up for years to pay for these missions for their sons. The church provides training and air travel to the missionary. The missionary is responsible for all other expenses. This drops the average missionary wage reported by the Department of Labor.
Professional missionaries do get paid for their time. These individuals work in an area, providing training and support to younger missionaries. The amount they are paid is determined by the church the missionary is serving. Professional missionaries usually pay no U.S. taxes, declaring all income earned outside of the nation. This skews the Department of Labor numbers downward.
The only exact way to know what a missionary makes is to talk to each church individually. A Baptist church in Louisiana may pay less than a Baptist church in Florida. Mormons pay for their own missions. As with any job, before accepting a position, ask the leadership about wages. The Department of Labor provides the best statistics possible, but they are only an average.