Funeral and Mortuary Related Services

Funeral and mortuary-related services include working in funeral homes as a director, embalmer or even as a grief counselor. Find information about professional responsibilities, training and licensing here, and make an informed decision about your future career.

Are Funeral and Mortuary Related Services for Me?

Career Overview

Although religions and cultures differ in their approaches to death, funeral and mortuary services share a number of common elements. Commonalities may include having a mortuary prepare the remains, performing religious or other rituals that honor the dead and disposing of the body. A career in the funeral industry requires sensitivity to the needs of the bereaved, which includes excellent communications skills and compassionate treatment of clients.

Professional Options and Duties

If you decide to work in mortuary or funeral services, you might be employed as a funeral director, sales representative or grief facilitator, or pursue specialized work as an embalmer. Funeral directors or morticians are often trained and licensed to practice embalming, which preserves the body after death. Embalming is a sanitary preservative and cosmetic process in which the body is made ready for interment. The process of embalming includes washing the body with a germicidal soap, removing the blood from the body and replacing it with embalming fluid to preserve tissues.

Employment and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of funeral directors, funeral service managers and morticians was projected to increase by an average rate of 12% nationwide between 2012 and 2022. In May 2013, the mean annual salary for an embalmer was $42,750, while funeral directors, morticians and undertakers earned $51,720 (www.bls.gov).

How Can I Work in Funeral and Mortuary Related Services?

Educational Options

The American Board of Funeral Service Education (ABFSE) is the accrediting agency for approximately 56 mortuary science programs, each of which normally lasts from two to four years. Some community colleges offer 2-year programs that culminate in an Associate of Applied Science in Mortuary Science. Bachelor of Science in Mortuary Science and Funeral Services programs may be found at some 4-year colleges or universities. In addition to on-campus studies, some funeral service programs are available online.

Curriculum

In a mortuary science program, you'll study human anatomy, pathology, physiology and embalming techniques. Training in restorative art, accounting and business management might also be required. Some programs may emphasize the ethical and legal aspects of funeral directing. Studies in funeral service counseling might focus on the psychology of death and dying.

Licensing

All states require mortuary science professionals to have a license. Licensing requirements vary by state, but typically include two years of education in mortuary science and a passing score on an examination. Many states require funeral directors to obtain both a funeral director's license and an embalming license. Licensing exams usually include both written and oral sections.

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