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Funeral Director: Job Description & Career Info

Get information on the tasks of funeral directors and what training they need. Read about skills required, salary data and career information. Also highlighted in this article are related employment options.

Career Definition of a Funeral Director

Funeral directors, also sometimes referred to as undertakers or morticians, help families plan funeral services; they then carry out those services. Most funeral directors are practicing embalmers, which means that they prepare and preserve the body before internment. Common duties of funeral directors include meeting with families, helping families plan services, embalming and preparing bodies, planning and organizing wakes and memorial services, placing obituary notices in newspapers and handling paperwork.

Education Associate's or bachelor's degree in mortuary science plus license
Job Skills Compassion; empathy; accounting, math and management skills
Median Salary (2015)* $48,490 (morticians, undertakers and funeral directors)
Job Outlook (2014-2024)* 7% increase (morticians, undertakers and funeral directors)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Educational Requirements

To become a funeral director, you need to complete a 2- or 4-year program in mortuary science. Typical courses in such a program include physiology, anatomy, embalming techniques, pathology, restorative art, accounting and client services. All 50 states also require funeral directors to be licensed, which generally requires at least two years of education, one year of apprenticeship and a passing score on a state examination.

Job Skills

Because funeral directors interact with the families of the deceased, it's important that they have compassion and empathy. Many funeral directors also own their own businesses, which require strong math, accounting and management skills.

Employment and Economic Outlook

The employment outlook for funeral directing is average. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of morticians, undertakers and funeral directors is expected to grow by 7% from 2014-2024. Median annual earnings for these professionals as of May 2015 were $48,490.

Alternative Career Options

Other related careers include:

Florist

Also known as floral designers, these creative individuals make arrangements for various events, including funerals. Experience can be gained on the job, but many workers have a high school diploma as well. A 3% decline was projected for this career between 2014 and 2024, according to the BLS. The median salary for floral designers in 2015 was listed as $25,010.

Cosmetologist

Cosmetologists are trained to style hair but may also know how to apply makeup. The basic education requirements for cosmetologists include completing an accredited program in the field and passing a licensing exam. According to the BLS, the category of hairdressers, hairstylists and cosmetologists was projected to experience 10% job growth from 2014 to 2024. This group had a median income of $23,660 per year in 2015, as reported by the BLS.

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