How to Become an Embalmer

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Embalming is an important part of the burial process that involved preserving the remains of the deceased for display at funeral services. Embalmers are trained professionals who perform embalming tasks such as sanitation, preservation, and presentation.


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What does an embalmer do?

Embalmers prepare deceased human beings for burial. They disinfect the body to prevent the spreading of diseases and preserve the body for funeral services. They insert tubes to remove the blood and bodily fluid and replace it with embalming fluid for preservation. They wash and dry the body, perform the necessary grooming tasks, and reshape body parts using wax, plastic, or cotton. They also apply cosmetics, dress the body, and style the hair to make the body look lifelike. Embalmers prepare the body for funeral services by placing it attractively in a casket. Sometimes embalmers help during funeral services. Some embalmers assist with autopsies and file reports on the cause of death.

What kind of training does an embalmer need?

Embalmers need a high school diploma and formal training in funeral service or mortuary science. Many colleges, universities, vocational and technical schools offer diploma, associate degree, and bachelor degree programs in mortuary science. The programs provide classroom and hands-on instruction on a variety of topics such as pathology, microbiology, restorative art, grief counseling, funeral service management, and dressing and casketing. Embalmers must also complete an apprenticeship during or after their formal training. Many prospective embalmers work part-time in funeral homes to gain practical experience. All states require embalmers to be licensed. Licensing requirements vary by state, but often include completion of an approved mortuary science or related program and passing a state examination. Embalmers usually have to complete continuing education to maintain their licenses.

What are the prospects for a career as an embalmer?

Employment of embalmers is expected to grow faster than average for all professions from 2006 to 2016 (1). The aging population and increased need for caring for the deceased will drive job growth.

Job prospects are expected to be good especially for embalmers with extensive experience. Job openings will also arise from the need to replace embalmers who retire, transfer, or leave the occupation for other reasons.

How much do embalmers make?

As of November 2009, embalmers with 1 to 4 years experience earn average annual salaries between $24,134 and $40,828. Those with 5 to 9 years experience earn average annual salaries between $36,115 and $49,579 (2).

A career as an embalmer is a great choice for people interested in providing care for deceased human beings. Embalmers must have a thorough knowledge of the laws of handling and treating the deceased. They must not be easily squeamish and be able to perform less desirable tasks. Tact, composure, dedication, compassion, and sympathy are desirable characteristics. They must also have excellent communication and interpersonal skills and be able to provide comfort to the family members and friends of the deceased.

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