Organists' fees: our recommendations for employed organists and directors of music


    Our recommendations for the fees which employed organists and directors of music in places of worship should be paid in 2015 are set out below. They draw on the results of our latest survey of fees but also take into account price inflation and the general economic environment. Over 550 musicians took part in the survey. This makes the results a truly authoritative picture of what organists and directors of music were paid.

    The number of hours you are paid for should include not only time spent at church services but also hours spent on rehearsals, in selecting and preparing music, attending liturgy planning meetings and so on.

    As our recommended hourly rates are exclusive of paid holiday, this total should then be adjusted upwards to allow for at least the statutory minimum paid holiday.


    Recommended rates for employed organists and directors of music in 2015

    £ per hourLondonRest of the UK
    ................18 - 30

    14 - 22


    Calculating the right rate for you and your church if you are paid an annual salary

    Step 1

    Choose an appropriate hourly rate within the recommended range in the table. You should take into account considerations such as:

    • whether or not you have to direct a choir
    • the size and importance of the church
    • the importance of music in the church’s liturgy
    • your qualifications and experience as an organist and choir director.

    Step 2

    Multiply this hourly rate by the number of hours you are required to work in the year, including time spent on rehearsals, in selecting and preparing music, attending liturgy planning meetings etc as well as at the actual church service).

    Step 3

    To arrive at the annual salary, adjust this total upwards to allow for at least the statutory minimum paid holiday. (The current statutory entitlement is to 5.6 weeks of paid holiday).

    For example, we will take the case of a musician who is employed to direct the music in a church for two Sunday services in 46 weeks of the year (that is, other than six holiday weeks). Each of these services requires him to be in the church for two hours. In addition, he rehearses the church choir for two hours each week and spends one hour each week on preparing the music for these liturgical services in 46 weeks of the year and administration. He is also required to direct the music at ten Holy Day services each year (which again requires his presence in the church for two hours per service) and holds ten additional two-hour choir rehearsals and spends a further six hours in total in other preparation for these. In total, this means that he is required to work for 368 hours each year.

    • if he is director of music at a prestigious parish church in central London which has a semi-professional choir it might be decided under Step 1 that the appropriate hourly rate was £27
    • under Step 2 this £27 is multiplied by the 368 hours worked each year to give an annual salary before holiday pay of £9,936
    • under Step 3 this annual figure is adjusted upwards by a factor of 6/46 to produce an annual salary including holiday pay of £11,232.


    Calculating the right rate for you and your church if you are paid a fee per service

    Step 1

    Choose an appropriate hourly rate within the recommended range in the table, taking into account the factors suggested at Stage 1 above for musicians on an annual salary

    Step 2

    Multiply this hourly rate by the number of hours that you are required to spend preparing for and playing at each service. As with salaried organists, this should take into account not only time spent at church services but also hours spent rehearsing, selecting and preparing music, attending liturgy planning meetings, other administration etc. Our expectation is that the per service fee will usually be between two and 3.5 times the relevant hourly rate, depending on the amount of time spent in rehearsal and other preparation.

    Step 3

    Remember that these rates are exclusive of paid holiday. In law, the employer is required to give all employees 5.6 weeks paid holiday.

    Using the same example of a director of music in a London church with choir:

    • under Step 1 £27 is chosen as the appropriate hourly rate 
    • under Step 2 this hourly rate is multiplied by a factor of 3.5 to allow for the time worked on each Sunday service (two hours on the day of the service, one hour rehearsing the choir.