How to Become a Funeral Director

Funeral services are a common way of honoring people when they pass away. Funeral directors are trained professionals that are responsible for arranging all of the aspects of funeral and burial services.

What does a funeral director do?

Funeral directors arrange transportation of the deceased to funeral homes and set up funeral, burial, and cremation services. They oversee the preparation of the body and meet with family members to discuss their wishes. They arrange funeral details such as the casket, service, location, date and time, choosing of pallbearers, and special arrangements. They provide comfort to the family and friends and ensure the services are performed according to plans. Funeral directors also arrange cemetery transportation and direct the services. They obtain the required information for death certificates and obituaries. Some funeral directors help families with insurance claims.

What kind of training does a funeral director need?

Funeral directors typically need formal training in mortuary science or other related field. Many vocational and technical schools and community colleges offer programs in mortuary science. Aspiring funeral directors typically complete courses in anatomy and physiology, business management, grief counseling, funeral service law, and ethics. Some states require funeral directors to complete apprenticeship programs where they are supervised by licensed funeral directors. Apprentices gain practical experience and learn all the concepts of funeral services. All states require funeral directors to gain licensure. Licensing requirements vary, but usually include minimum education and experience and passing a written examination. Licensing in embalming is also required by some states. Funeral directors must complete continuing education to maintain their licenses.

What are the prospects for a career as a funeral director?

Employment of funeral directors is expected to grow about as fast as average for all professions, increasing 12% from 2006 to 2016 (1). The aging population and increased need for funeral services will drive job growth.

Job prospects are expected to be good especially for funeral directors with extensive experience. Many job openings will arise from the need to replace funeral directors that retire, transfer, or leave the field for other reasons.

How much do funeral director make?

As of November 2009, funeral directors with less than 1 year experience earn average annual salaries between $22,914 and $49,132. Those with 1 to 4 years experience earn average annual salaries between $26,179 and $39,934 (2).

A career as a funeral director is a great choice for individuals that have a strong interest in providing funeral services for the deceased. Funeral directors must have a solid understanding of a variety of funeral customs and the laws that govern the handling of the deceased. Composure, compassion, tact, and excellent communication and interpersonal skills are desirable characteristics. Funeral directors must remain calm in stressful situations and be able to make effective decisions. They must be able to handle unpleasant tasks and they must follow all safety procedures to reduce the risk of infection and contamination.

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