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Medical Support

Funeral Director

Career data updated last on 10/15/2014
Funeral Director Among the many diverse groups in the United States, funeral practices usually share some common elements—removing the deceased to a mortuary, preparing the remains, performing a ceremony that honors the deceased and addresses the spiritual needs of the family, and final disposition of the remains. Funeral directors arrange and direct these tasks for grieving families. They also arrange the details and handle the logistics of funerals. Funeral directors handle the paperwork involved with the person’s death, such as submitting papers to State authorities so that a formal certificate of death may be issued and copies distributed to the heirs. They may help family members apply for veterans’ burial benefits, and notify the Social Security Administration of the death. Also, funeral directors may apply for the transfer of any pensions, insurance policies, or annuities on behalf of survivors.
Salary $30.62/hr - $63,690 annually
Significant Points Funeral directors must be licensed by their home state.
Work Environment Funeral directors often work long, irregular hours, and the occupation can be highly stressful. Many work on an on-call basis, because they may be needed to remove remains in the middle of the night. Shiftwork sometimes is necessary because funeral home hours include evenings and weekends. In smaller funeral homes, working hours vary, but in larger homes employees usually work 8 hours a day, 5 or 6 days a week.
High School Prep General college preparation is recommended: three courses in math including algebra I, algebra II and geometry, or a higher level math course for which algebra II is a prerequisite; three science courses including biology, chemistry, and physics; four English units and two social studies units, including one in U.S. History; and two years of a second language.
Academic Requirements

Funeral directors must be licensed in all States. Licensing laws vary from State to State, but most require applicants to be 21 years old, have 2 years of formal education that includes studies in mortuary science, serve a 1-year apprenticeship, and pass a qualifying examination. After becoming licensed, new funeral directors may join the staff of a funeral home. Funeral directors who embalm must be licensed in all States, and some States issue a single license for funeral directors who embalm. In States that have separate licensing requirements, most people in the field obtain both licenses. Persons interested in a career as a funeral director should contact their State licensing board for specific requirements.

College programs in mortuary science usually last from 2 to 4 years; the American Board of Funeral Service Education accredits about 50 mortuary science programs. A small number of community and junior colleges offer 2-year programs, and a few colleges and universities offer both 2-year and 4-year programs. Mortuary science programs include courses in anatomy, physiology, pathology, embalming techniques, restorative art, business management, accounting and use of computers in funeral home management, and client services. They also include courses in the social sciences and legal, ethical, and regulatory subjects, such as psychology, grief counseling, oral and written communication, funeral service law, business law, and ethics.


Arapahoe Community College
Associate Degree Associate

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