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Buddhist Priests and Contemplatives


Buddhist priests lead worship services, perform ceremonies and rituals, and officiate at festivals in Buddhist temples and in the homes of parishioners. Most priests can marry and have families. The majority of Buddhist priests and contemplatives are male, but some are female. Priests may also be known as ministers—especially in the United States. Buddhist contemplatives live their lives within the boundaries of their monastery and engage in meditation and a form of prayer. (The term “monastery” is used in this article to refer to structures that house—separately—both male and female contemplatives.) In some branches of Buddhism, contemplatives can marry and have children. Some even live outside the monastery and have jobs. Male contemplatives are also known as monks, monastics, brothers, and bhikkhus. Female contemplatives may also be known as bhikkhunis, monastics, sisters, and nuns.

Salary Range

Below $25,000 to $75,000

Minimum Education Level

Some Postsecondary Training




Little Change or More Slowly than the Average
Personality Traits

Hands On



Career Ladder
Head Priest or Abbess/Abbott

Priest or Contemplative