Mortuary science training programs give students the skills necessary to perform embalming work for funeral homes and the like, as they learn about how to wash, sanitize and preserve deceased bodies, replace blood with embalming fluid and rebuild, reshape and reconstruct tissues using wax, clay, cotton and plaster. They also are trained on how to apply make-up and grooming techniques.
Although most of these programs come in the form of a 2-year associate's degree, four-year bachelor's programs are also available. There are 60 mortuary science programs accredited by the American Board of Funeral Service Education.
Curriculum includes sciences, like anatomy, physiology and pathology, and a 1-3 year apprenticeship under the supervision of an experienced and licensed funeral director. Apprenticeships can be completed during or after mortuary school and expose participants to funeral planning, visitation procedures and burial ceremonies.
Associate's Degree in Mortuary Science
Associate's degree programs in mortuary science are multi-disciplinary to provide students with the knowledge and skills to handle the intimate and specific details surrounding death and funeral services. Examples of the various involved fields are:
- Restorative art
- Business management and ethics
- Funeral law
- Grief counseling
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
Morticians, undertakers and funeral directors held 25,470 job positions in 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports. Job growth in the funeral services industry is expected to increase by 5% in the years between 2014 and 2024. Median annual salary for morticians, undertakers and funeral directors is $48,490, as reported by the BLS in May 2015.
Licensure is required to work as an embalmer and/or funeral director in all 50 states. Some states offer umbrella licensure for both areas, while others mandate two separate licenses. In either case, applicants be at least 21 years old, have 2 years' worth of formal education, complete a 1-year apprenticeship and pass the licensing examination. Over 30 states require embalmers and funeral directors to maintain licensure with continuing education credits, that can be attained through annual seminars and workshops offered by state-level associations. The National Funeral Directors Association is a professional forum for mortuary science specialists that organizes these associations.
Associate's degree in mortuary science programs combine embalming training with anatomy and pathology courses to train students for work in the funeral services industry. Apprenticeship programs for one to three years under the supervision of a licensed funeral director are also required.