Funeral Director Job Description
Funeral directors (also called undertakers or morticians) plan and direct memorial services, wakes, and burials. They help families throughout their grieving processes by offering emotional support and arranging for services like flowers, obituaries, and transportation for mourners.
Funeral directors have to be familiar with many different cultural and religious burial customs, so that they can provide care and services that are respectful and appropriately honor the deceased.
Funeral directors also process a lot of legal paperwork on behalf of the families. They often submit death notices to the state, so they can get a formal death certificate. Additionally, they can help with insurance claims or help a veteran's family get their due benefits.
Many funeral directors choose to become licensed embalmers. Embalming is the process of preserving and preparing the body for burial when a family chooses to have an open casket service. Large funeral homes often have teams of dedicated embalmers, but smaller funeral homes do not.
In addition to arranging for the funeral and burial, funeral directors also oversee the services to make sure that everything runs as planned. Additionally, they sometimes lead the funeral procession from the funeral home to the cemetery or church.
Sometimes, people die in one place but need to be buried somewhere else. In these cases, funeral directors plan the transportation of the body from one place to another.
If you are the type of person who has a strong desire to help people during their times of need, then a job a funeral director might be a good fit for you.
Work Environment and Schedule
Most funeral directors work in funeral homes, where bodies are kept until burial or cremation. The working environment is normally very quiet and somber.
A career as a funeral director can be stressful and emotionally challenging. Working with people who have experienced a great loss of life can be very difficult, but funeral directors have to remain professional and demonstrate respect at all times.
Most funeral directors work full time, and overtime is often required. Working nights and weekends is often required to conduct funerals and meet with grieving families.
In small funeral homes, funeral directors are often on call, and may need to come into work at anytime to help a grieving family.
Because of the scheduling demands, you should think about the type of personal life that you want to have before you pursue a career in this field. It can be very rewarding, but it's also very demanding. Unless the demands match up with your other personal aspirations, you probably won't be happy working in this occupation.
How to Become a Funeral Director
A minimum of an associate's degree in mortuary science is required to work as a funeral director, but many employers prefer candidates who have a bachelor's degree. Mortuary science programs include classes that cover funeral service, grief counseling, and ethics.
Before you enroll in a mortuary science program, you should check to see if it's accredited by the American Board of Funeral Service Education. If it isn't accredited, you will be unable to earn the license required to practice.
All states require funeral directors to be licensed. The licensing requirements vary from state to state, but all require the completion of an accredited mortuary science program and an apprenticeship. Apprenticeships normally last between 1-3 years.
To learn the exact licensing requirements in your state, you should check with your state's licensing board.
There are currently 29,300 funeral directors in the United States, with 1,070 new funeral director job openings created each year.
Funeral Director jobs are not expected to see much growth beyond their current levels in the next decade.
Funeral Director Salaries
Salaries by State
Hover over your state to get an idea of what Funeral Directors make in your area.
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Funeral Director salaries can vary depending on your experience, the location, company, industry, and benefits provided. Nationwide, most funeral directors make between $39,200 - $71,400 per year, or $18.85 - $34.31 per hour.