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Funeral directors advise family members on the details of funerals and memorial services, often handling logistical issues such as setting dates and times, greeting mourners and organizing funeral processions. Those interested in becoming funeral directors usually begin their educations studying the field of mortuary science.
When considering a school or college that offers degree programs to prepare one for a career in funeral directing, one should look for mortuary science program - the typical degree earned by funeral directors. Prospective students must first consider whether they wish to pursue a 2- or 4-year degree. Accredited mortuary science associate's degrees are offered at over 50 community colleges, while only a few 4-year universities offer bachelor's degree programs.
Other options include attending a specialized funeral services school, many of which offer 2- and 4-year programs. No matter which educational route students elect to pursue, they should choose a program that prepares them for the licensing exam offered by the state in which they intend to work. Students should also be aware of whether their state requires a separate license for embalming, as that may affect the their program of study and how much emphasis that topic is given.
Prospective funeral directors enrolled in a mortuary science program should look at school programs that emphasize not only the preparation elements of the field, such as embalming, restorative arts and chemistry, but also the psychological, legal and business aspects of funeral services. Many programs offer courses in funeral law, funeral home accounting and business management, which can be particularly helpful for funeral directors who wish to open and operate their own businesses. Coursework in grief counseling and psychology, as well as the study of death and funerary practices across different cultures and religions, can help prospective funeral directors better prepare for their jobs.
When considering mortuary science programs, prospective funeral directors should also consider the facilities and technology available to students. Many offer basic technology with which students can work, often relying on partnerships with local funeral homes for students to receive more advanced practical training. Other programs, however, offer state-of-the-art equipment and technology on-site, and work with professional practitioners to teach advanced training classes. Students should check whether programs have access to such facilities as embalming facilities and crematories.
Another important subject students should consider is whether their programs of interest offer classes on the health regulations related to working with cadavers and the sterilization issues surrounding embalming and preparatory facilities, as disease and infection is a minor risk associated with a career as a funeral director.
|College/University||Student Population||Institution Type|
|Miami Dade College||57,106||4-year, primarily associate's, Public|
|University of Minnesota - Twin Cities||51,140||4-year, Public|
|American River College||37,601||2-year, Public|
|St. Petersburg College||26,099||4-year, primarily associate's, Public|
|Tidewater Community College||25,900||2-year, Public|
|Florida Community College at Jacksonville||25,686||2-year, Public|
|Mesa Community College||23,825||2-year, Public|
|San Antonio College||21,713||2-year, Public|
|Nassau Community College||21,400||2-year, Public|
|Southern Illinois University Carbondale||20,675||4-year, Public|
|The Community College of Baltimore County||20,673||2-year, Public|
|St. John's University - New York||20,109||4-year, Private not-for-profit|
|Milwaukee Area Technical College||18,780||2-year, Public|
|Des Moines Area Community College||18,695||2-year, Public|
|Ivy Tech Community College - Central Indiana||15,795||2-year, Public|
|CUNY LaGuardia Community College||15,285||2-year, Public|
|Cypress College||14,990||2-year, Public|
|Delgado Community College||14,450||2-year, Public|
|University of Central Oklahoma||13,724||4-year, Public|
|Hudson Valley Community College||12,900||2-year, Public|
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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics