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Embalming courses are offered as part of an associate's or bachelor's program in mortuary science or funeral service at both universities and at community colleges. Individuals with a degree in mortuary science are qualified to become licensed funeral service workers.
Embalming courses cover information pertaining to the correct methods and procedures as well as the legal aspects of embalming a body and preparing it for burial. Program curriculum includes coursework in the sciences, such as anatomy and chemistry, along with practical experience working in a funeral home or similar setting. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are currently 58 programs accredited by the American Board of Funeral Service Education; graduates of such programs will have met the education requirement for state licensure. Commonly taught concepts include:
A human anatomy course provides students with an overview of the human body with a specific focus on anatomy that is important in embalming. Emphasis is put on teaching students about the circulatory system. Students may also learn about various body cavities, such as the abdominal cavity. This class is usually taken towards the beginning of a program. It provides students with basic knowledge of the body needed for embalming.
A course in organic chemistry explains how embalming effects the body. This includes the toxicology and chemical changes within the body when embalmed. Sanitation and disinfection of the body are covered. Students also learn how embalming fluids work, along with how to work safely with the fluids. Students generally enroll in the course at the beginning of their studies.
This intermediate course covers what a student needs to know about preparing a body to be embalmed. It examines the different chemicals and instruments used. Students learn embalming methods and sanitation techniques. This course may also cover the legal and ethical aspects of embalming. By the end of the course, students should understand the process of safely preserving human remains through embalming and be able to prepare a body for the process.
Students learn about the embalming process though practical experience in embalming. Students practice all the technical aspects of embalming, along with the procedures and methods used in the process. It also teaches students pre- and post-embalming procedures.
Areas that fall outside a typical embalming situation are investigated in this course. Students learn about special cases where bodies may not be in good condition, such as fire or accident victims. By the end of this course, students are familiar with embalming procedures and methods used in unique cases. Students would take the course near the end of their program.