Understanding the Data

How do I interpret the data?

Understanding the Salary Graph:

The curved line on the graph represents our estimate of salaries for the parameters selected given the data from survey responses we have received. 

You can approximate pay for a position relative to others by finding the salary amount on the curve. (If you input the position's actual salary, it will be shown as a vertical dotted line on the graph.)


The graph includes markers at the 25th percentile, median (50th percentile) and 75th percentile points. If a salary falls on the 25th percentile, that means a person earning that salary would earn more than 25% of similar church workers in that role, according to our data estimates. If a salary falls at the 64th percentile, that person would earn more than 64% of similar workers' salaries. 

Generally, it is a best practice to keep salary for positions within the 25th–75th percentile range. The median is often considered the target, all things being equal.

Calculating the Average Salary Based on ZIP Code:


The cost of living and the median household income sections of your report are the only sections with figures specific to your ZIP code. In our research, we found church size and church budget are better comparisons regardless of location than two churches in the same county with vastly different congregation sizes or budgets.

To compare different cost of living differences, you need to add or subtract the percentage of the cost of living. For example, if the median salary is $83,302 for a senior pastor and your ZIP code cost of living is 15% higher than the compared national average, you want to adjust that salary to $95,797. For example:

$83,302 (median) x 1.15 (15% higher) = Average Salary based on your ZIP code

From here, you can use this Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) data for your ZIP code to discuss if there is rationale for adjusting a salary.

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