How to Become a Funeral Director
Funeral Director Careers & Degrees

There are a lot of stereotypes surrounding what a Funeral Director is like as a person and what they do on a daily basis.

Funeral Directors are often thought to be socially distant and dislike being around mortal beings purposely avoiding any interactions with them.

However, in order to be a successful in this field, someone who wants to become a Funeral Director must have great social and communication skills in order to plan a memorial service.

Dealing with someone’s death requires a lot of understanding and empathy.

Those who want to become a Funeral Director need the ability to handle bodily remains as well as be able to communicate with family members in a respectful manner while understanding religious differences between their clients.

Education Requirements to Become a Funeral Director

Funeral Directors need extensive training, education and licensure in order to prepare bodily remains for burials.

People who want to become a Funeral Director need to be licensed in the state they wish to work and reside in.

Licensing laws vary by state although the majority of them require candidates to complete a formal educational program, be at least 21 years of age, complete a yearlong apprenticeship and pass the licensing exam.

In order for a candidate to become a Funeral Director, they must enroll in a Mortuary Science program from an accredited institution.

These types of programs typically take two to four years to complete and result in an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree.

The American Board of Funeral Service Education has accredited approximately 60 Associate and Bachelor Mortuary Science programs throughout the country.

For a list of programs, visit their website at ABFSE Accredited Programs.

A Mortuary Science program will prepare students to begin a career as Funeral Director by teaching courses in anatomy, pathology, embalming, business management, funeral home management and client services.

A student will not only learn how to prepare bodies for burial, they will also learn how to handle its sensitive nature and how to run the business aspects of a funeral home.

During their yearlong apprenticeship, students will work under the supervision of an experienced and licensed Funeral Director.

Requirements vary by state, but in some, a student can complete an apprenticeship while finishing up their degree.

A typical apprenticeship can last between 1 to 3 years.

Licensure requires a student to take a certification exam approved by the state they wish to work in.

Candidates will need to contact individual states for specific directions on their licensing requirements.

Funeral Director Job Description

Also referred to as Morticians or Undertakers, Funeral Directors manage funerals and religious ceremonies associated with the passing of a human being.

They are involved in the preparation of a person’s body for burial while making sure the family’s spiritual needs are respected and followed.

These professionals are able to arrange a funeral, prepare the body for burial and manage the logistics of a ceremony all while communicating with family members during a difficult time in their life.

The following list includes typical duties:

  • Handling and transferring bodies to a mortuary
  • Discuss type of burial or cremation with family
  • Preparing and embalming remains according to state laws
  • Discuss funeral preparations with families
  • Handle funeral logistics: time, date, location
  • Handle religious and cultural requests: schedule wakes, memorial or religious services
  • Write obituaries and forwarding them to local newspapers
  • Communicate with cemetery personnel to schedule burial
  • Prepare transportation for casket and funeral attendees
  • Arrange and order funeral decorations for service and burial

Funeral Director Salary and Career Path

This field is expected to grow by 12% through the year 2018 which is considered average among all other professions.

The job outlook for Funeral Directors looks strong especially for professionals who are also qualified to embalm.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the national median wage for these professionals is approximately $52,210 per year.

The salary range for this profession is approximately $29,900 to $92,900 per year.

People who want to advance in the field should look for employment at companies that own several funeral homes.

Larger companies can provide a variety of opportunities such as a Branch Manager or General Manager position.

In addition, qualified candidates with enough experience can launch their own private funeral home business.

The below information is based on the 2019 BLS national averages.
  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary

$29,830
$19K
$22K
$29K
$34K
$43K
10%
25%
50%
75%
90%

Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
Alabama$27,030
Arizona$31,430
Arkansas$23,910
California$37,650
Colorado$31,490
Connecticut$34,720
Delaware$37,410
Florida$28,170
Georgia$26,370
Hawaii$31,360
Idaho$30,380
Illinois$29,500
Indiana$24,900
Iowa$31,010
Kansas$27,620
Kentucky$31,740
Louisiana$24,270
Maine$32,560
Maryland$29,870
Massachusetts$44,210
Michigan$30,000
Minnesota$32,250
Mississippi$25,640
Missouri$28,040
Montana$31,280
Nebraska$33,740
Nevada$31,600
New Hampshire$34,410
New Jersey$41,250
New Mexico$30,520
New York$33,700
North Carolina$27,400
North Dakota$33,990
Ohio$28,000
Oklahoma$24,620
Oregon$35,860
Pennsylvania$32,380
South Carolina$25,850
South Dakota$27,830
Tennessee$26,540
Texas$26,790
Utah$26,510
Vermont$37,790
Virginia$28,400
Washington$32,340
West Virginia$26,190
Wisconsin$29,330
Wyoming$31,810
Puerto Rico$23,030

The top earning state in the field is Massachusetts, where the average salary is $44,210.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

Massachusetts - $44,210
New Jersey - $41,250
Vermont - $37,790
California - $37,650
Delaware - $37,410
* Salary information based on the May 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Funeral Attendants, OCC Code 39-4021, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

QuestionWhat does a funeral director do?

Years ago, funeral directors were called ‘morticians’ and ‘undertakers’.

A funeral director is a specialist who takes care of the details of a funeral and manages a funeral home.

In case you decide to follow this career path, you would be working in a crematory or in a funeral home.

The job is certainly not a career option for everyone; however, it has plenty of positive moments.

The general responsibilities of a funeral director include preparing the body; arranging transportation; consulting with the family of the deceased; submitting legal documents and paperwork; training junior staff; helping plan the funeral; discussing the procedures with the people who want to arrange their own service, and so on.

Some funeral directors help to prepare and ship the deceased, in case the person has to be cremated or buried in another country.

QuestionHow much do funeral directors make?

On average, funeral directors make over $52.500 per year in the United States.

You can expect to earn anywhere between $29.000 and $89.000 annually.

The salary of a funeral director would certainly depend on a wide range of factors; for example, the geographical location and the overall success of the business.

Entry-level funeral directors usually earn around $14 per hour, while top-level professionals can make $43 and more.

Funeral directors that work in Connecticut, New Jersey or Massachusetts have the highest average salaries.

QuestionHow much does it cost to become a funeral director?

There is a minimum educational requirement for a funeral director.

You would need to acquire at least an associate’s degree (preferably, in mortuary science).

Be prepared to pay over $17.000 to become an Associate in Applied Science or $23.000, in case you decide to become a Bachelor of Mortuary Science.

Funeral directors must have a license.

The fee might differ from state to state; moreover, there are different types of funeral director licenses and those can cost you anywhere between $50 and $750.

QuestionWhat is the demand for funeral directors?

Between 2016 and 2026, the funeral director job market is expected to grow by 3.8% in the United States, which is lower than the national average.

This is the type of industry that will always thrive, as death is a natural part of life.

However, nowadays more and more people prefer to arrange their funerals in advance; that’s why funeral directors will be in high demand.

Those candidates who are qualified as both funeral directors and embalmers will have better job opportunities.

Bear in mind that the funeral director industry is mainly concentrated in the following states – Florida, New York, Texas.

QuestionHow long does it take to become a funeral director?

It will take you 2 years to complete an associate’s degree program and 4 years to acquire a bachelor’s degree.

There are courses in biology and chemistry that last for a few weeks or a couple of months that aspiring funeral directors might find helpful.

It is recommended to apply for part-time or summer jobs in funeral homes to get more on-job experience.

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