How Do I Become a Mortician?

Research what it takes to become a mortician. Learn about degree and training requirements, licensure, job duties and salary to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Mortuary Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What is a Mortician?

Morticians prepare the deceased for burial or cremation and organize funeral services. Their duties include, but are not limited to, counseling families, filing death certificates and training staff. They also communicate with related companies, such as flower shops and government offices. Some people who enter this field start their own business, which requires more administrative responsibilities. To get a better idea of what's required to enter this career field, take a look at the following chart:

Degree Required Associate's degree in mortuary science
Training Required 1-3 year apprenticeship
Key Skills Business acumen, compassion, interpersonal skills
Licensure Licensure required in most states
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 7% (for morticians, undertakers and funeral directors)
Median Salary (2015)* $48,490 (for morticians, undertakers and funeral directors)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What a Mortician Does

A mortician, also called a funeral director, is responsible for the posthumous treatment and preparation of the deceased. Morticians must also manage funeral homes as well as organizing funeral services for the loved ones of the deceased. Being a mortician strikes a delicate balance between business, psychology and science.

Education and Training

In the past, most morticians simply received on-the-job training through apprenticeships. However, in order to become a licensed professional mortician these days, it's necessary for you to earn at least an associate's degree in mortuary science. To enroll in a 2-year associate's degree program in mortuary science, you must have either a high school diploma or a GED.

Courses cover mortuary management, marketing, human anatomy, embalming, modern funeral practices and coping with loss. With an associate's degree, you'll be eligible for entry-level positions at funeral homes, mausoleums and cemeteries. Many students choose to continue their education toward bachelor's degrees in mortuary science rather than seeking employment immediately.

Additional requirements include the completion of an apprenticeship program lasting up to three years. In most states, you'll also need to earn a license before you can perform embalming services. This credentialing process typically entails passing a written exam after meeting all education, experience and age requirements.

Necessary Skills

In order to be a successful mortician, you'll need to combine various skill sets. In order to prepare the deceased for service and burial, you'll need a thorough awareness of human anatomy. You'll also need to know the processes of restorative art, as well as having skills with cremation and burial preparation. A strong business acumen and understanding of business law is necessary for the smooth and professional management of a funeral home. Because dealing with the bereaved is a large part of the job, skills in grief psychology and counseling are mandatory.

Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of jobs available to morticians, undertakers and funeral directors was expected to increase 7% between 2014 and 2024 (www.bls.gov). The median annual wage for these funeral service professionals was $48,490 as of May 2015.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Administrative services, marketing, and human resources managers plan, direct, and coordinate a variety of services for individuals or an organization. These roles also require strong communication skills and the ability to work with others while only needing a bachelor's degree. Psychologists and social workers also help people dealing with grief, but these positions do require additional education.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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