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Funeral Directing Degrees by Degree Program Level

Jan 02, 2019

Programs available to aspiring funeral directors include associate's and bachelor's degrees in funeral service or mortuary science. Both programs prepare graduates to pass required state licensing exams.

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Essential Information

Funeral service studies consist of funeral directing, business and mortuary laws, embalming practices and trends in funeral service. Internships are typically required as well, and students in bachelor's degree programs might also need to maintain a 2.5 GPA or higher in order to graduate.

Prerequisites for associate's and bachelor's degree programs in funeral service or mortuary science include a high school diploma or equivalent. Classes in biology, algebra and chemistry, as well as college placement test scores, may also be required for an associate's degree. It is recommended for bachelor's degree program applicants to have knowledge in computers and the sciences. Additionally, a Hepatitis B vaccination and a TB test may also be required.


Associate of Applied Science in Funeral Service Education or Mortuary Science

Funeral directors manage funeral homes, plan funerals and often participate in embalming. Associate-level funeral directing degrees usually take two years to complete. Graduates are qualified to apply for mandatory state licensure. They take general education topics as well as core classes in:

  • Accounting
  • Computers
  • Foundations in funeral service
  • Psychology and grief counseling
  • Embalming practices

Bachelor of Science in Funeral Service Education or Mortuary Science

At the bachelor's degree level, students learn about general business and management concepts as well as specialized practices. They also develop oral and written communication skills and gain hands-on experience through required internships. Some funeral directing students use the funeral service platform to pursue further education in pathology and forensic science. Students learn through lectures and lab work in courses such as:

  • Death and religion
  • Psychology of death
  • Funeral home management
  • Restoring bodies and restructuring faces

Popular Career Options

Graduates of a 4-year degree program in mortuary science are qualified to work as:

  • Funeral directors
  • Funeral home embalmers
  • Trade embalmers
  • Autopsy support personnel
  • Medical college embalmers

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Employment of funeral service workers was expected to rise 5% from 2014 through 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). The agency also noted that in 2015, morticians, undertakers and funeral directors averaged a salary of $52,990 annually; the states of Texas, Ohio, California, New York and Florida had more funeral directors than other states.

Professional Certification and Continuing Education Information

One requirement for funeral director licensure is apprenticeship training; individuals who did not complete an apprenticeship program while in college pursue training upon completion of schooling. Also, states generally require applicants to have completed formal funeral director training and pass an examination. Additional voluntary certifications are available through the National Funeral Directors Association (www.nfda.org).

Courses in funeral directing, business, embalming practices and psychology are a part of the coursework in both associate's and bachelor's degree programs in mortuary science or funeral service. Typically, these programs prepare aspiring funeral directors to become licensed by their state.

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