Funeral directors manage the day to day specifics of memorial services. Most importantly, they work with the deceased's family and friends to make sure the funeral services meet their needs and wishes.
Believe it or not, becoming a mortician does require a specific education and background. More importantly, it requires a compassionate person who can be patient with grieving individuals. Each service has to be unique for the individual, but at the same time, funeral directing is a business and managing the logistics is paramount. This is the most common path to being a funeral director (though it does vary slightly from state to state).
- Obtain a Mortuary Science Degree
Depending on your schedule, obtaining a degree can take two to four years. All degree programs require a high school diploma to begin. You can also pursue a bachelor’s degree in the field which can provide you with additional entry-level career options. You will learn a wide variety of skills, including financial management and the anatomical science of the embalming process. At its core, you learn how to run an effective business with the know-how to complete the job. Many programs also offer classes in grief counseling and legal rights.
- Meet Local Requirements
Each state has its own process for mortician licensing. These requirements may be completely fulfilled during your degree program or might require you to seek out additional education. Most states require you pass a licensing text or national board examination. Some states further differentiate between embalmer and mortician licenses.
- Start an Apprenticeship
There are many ways to break into the funeral home business, but practical know-how is invaluable. Working with a licensed professional will help teach you all the specifics to create a lasting career. Apprenticeships typically last two years and are actually required by many states for licensure.
- Consider an Entry Level Position
With a mortuary science degree, you can find work as an assistant or full-time embalmer. Assistants help handle the day to day operations, from washing out hearses and keeping the funeral home presentable to picking up clothes for the deceased. Due to the sensitive nature of the work, many funeral homes are tentative about taking on unproven employees, so expect to start small, with minor responsibilities. Most people spend ten years in the business before becoming director. Often, older professionals have an easier time entering the field because they are taken more seriously by clientele.
- Daily Life as a Mortician
As a funeral director, you will be working with both the families of the recently deceased and those individuals who want to plan the funeral ahead of time. Most people are looking to create a meaningful, memorable experience, and it’s important to give them the proper time to express themselves. You are also responsible for overseeing the preparation of the deceased in accordance with the family’s wishes. This includes the specifics of the funeral and the final resting place whether it be through burial, cremation, or another option.