Active and Contemplative Religious Sisters and Brothers

Sister Helping Hospital Patient

Within the Roman Catholic Church, the titles sister and brother are given to members of religious communities. Members take vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience and devote their lives to God. Sisters and brothers generally view their way of life not so much as a career but as a vocation—a calling. Another term for a sister or brother is a religious.

Active religious sisters and brothers divide their time between private prayer, communal worship, and service work. Each active religious community has a particular mission for which it was founded, ranging from educating children to caring for the sick to missionary work. Contemplative religious sisters and brothers devote themselves entirely to private prayer and the celebration of the Mass. Through their private lives of contemplation, they praise God and intercede with him on behalf of the whole world. Cloistered contemplative sisters and brothers live apart from the rest of the world in monasteries and convents under papal enclosure, meaning that access to them is restricted. Contemplative brothers are often called monks (but are addressed as "brother"), while contemplative sisters are called nuns (but are addressed as "sister"). Active religious are usually just called brothers and sisters.

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Quick Facts
Alternate Title(s) Monks, Nuns, Religious
Duties Serve in religious communities by participating in private prayer, communal worship, and service work
Salary Range Below $25,000 to $50,000
Work Environment Primarily Indoors
Best Geographical Location(s) Opportunities are available throughout the United States and world
Minimum Education Level
  • High School Diploma
School Subjects
  • English
  • Religion
  • Speech
Experience No experience needed
Personality Traits
  • Helpful
  • Problem-Solving
  • Social
  • Interpersonal
  • Public Speaking
  • Teaching
Certification or Licensing None
Special Requirements None
Employment Prospects Excellent
Advancement Prospects Fair
Outlook Much Faster than the Average
Career Ladder
  • Novice Master/Novice Mistress or Superior
  • Active and Contemplative Religious Sister or Brother
  • Novice
  • Postulant