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Become a Funeral Service Worker: Career Guide

Research the requirements to become a funeral service worker. Learn about the job description and duties, and see the step-by-step process to start a career in funeral services.

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Should I Become a Funeral Service Worker?

Funeral service workers, also known as funeral attendants or assistants, are responsible for a variety of tasks in preparation of and during services held at funeral homes. Duties include assisting the funeral director, preparing remains, setting up and cleaning the venue, greeting and escorting mourners, acting as casket-bearer and assisting families during services. Other duties may include transporting flowers, driving and maintaining funeral vehicles and maintaining records.

Contact with the deceased and their family members who may be upset can make for a somber work environment. These workers typically work a full-time schedule, and may be on-call during evenings or holidays.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Funeral Director
  • Mortuary Science

Career Requirements

Education Level High school diploma; associate's degree for advancement
Experience Entry level position; prior experience beneficial
Key Skills Compassionate demeanor, customer service, organizational, conscientiousness, communication, physical dexterity, computer basic, driver's license
Salary $23,080 (2014 median for funeral attendants)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, O*Net Online

Step 1: Research the Funeral Services Industry

The funeral services industry is a unique environment, and it is important to understand what the job requirements will be before entering the field. Employees are sometimes required to handle human remains, and they must frequently deal with grieving families. Jobs in this industry often require a higher level of caring and compassion than the typical business environment. Prospective funeral assistants need to have a desire to fulfill their roles in a way that provides comfort to families of the deceased.

Step 2: Gain Customer Service Experience

Funeral service workers are required to respond to clients' need with tacit understanding and aplomb. Because customer service training provides extensive experience working with the public, funeral directors often prefer to employ funeral service workers with a customer service background. This could include experience in a variety of jobs working with the public, such as store clerk, receptionist, bank teller, food service manager or customer service representative.

Success Tip:

  • Volunteer. Many regions have organizations such as funeral or memorial societies that seek volunteers to assist with funeral and burial options. Churches and other religious organizations offer opportunities to volunteer in the planning and supplying of post-service receptions or luncheons. Other volunteer opportunities abound that don't relate to the funeral industry but in which individuals can help others, such as delivering meals or working with the elderly. Any volunteer positions held may be listed on a resume as community service and experience.

Step 3: Continue Training and Education to Advance Your Career

Funeral attendants are often entry level positions in the funeral industry and need more education to advance in the field. Earning an associate degree in mortuary science will open the door to jobs as a mortician, undertaker or funeral director. Look into state licensing requirements for each position before enrolling in an educational track to ensure that the courses fulfill necessary licensing criteria.

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