Explore a career: Morticians and funeral directors

Curious about what it’s like to be a mortician? Ever thought you have what it takes to be a funeral director?

Most of us will eventually meet up with someone in this field to help plan a cremation, burial, or funeral service of a deceased loved one. In this unique profession, workers helps families and friends both mourn the death of loved ones and celebrate their lives. Since March 11 is National Funeral Director and Mortician Recognition Day, we’ll explore what this career entails and how to get started in the field.

What do morticians and funeral directors do?

At many funeral homes, the same person performs both functions, but when roles are distinguished, morticians prepare the body for cremation or burial, while funeral directors meet with family members of the deceased to coordinate arrangements for a memorial service or funeral, and process required paperwork. Here, we’ll treat them as a single occupation.

Morticians and funeral directors coordinate the transportation of the deceased to the mortuary and obtain information to complete legal documents such as the death certificate.

They meet with family members or friends of the deceased to plan the funeral or memorial service, help with writing an obituary, and provide information about cremation and burial options. Funeral directors and morticians also typically maintain a casket room to show available options, and help to plan details of the service such as arranging for clergy to provide services and transportation for mourners. They also coordinate burial arrangements with cemetery staff.

Morticians and funeral directors help families identify financial resources, such as applying for veterans funeral benefits and resolving insurance claims. They offer comfort and compassion to bereaved families and may witness a wide range of emotions as family members come to grips with their loved one’s death.  Funeral services may also include grief counseling and support for family members for some time after the service.

When family members elect to have the deceased’s remains embalmed, morticians and funeral directors perform the embalming using chemicals and special equipment.

Morticians and funeral directors earn a median national salary of $54,000, with a range from $29,100 – 91,100.

How do you become a mortician or funeral director?

Most positions for funeral directors and morticians require an associate’s degree in mortuary science, funeral direction/service, or thanatology. Almost all states require professional licensure to practice in the field. In many positions, new graduates work under the guidance of an experienced mortician for one to three years before working independently.

Morticians and funeral directors often work long and unpredictable hours that include evenings and weekends. When someone dies, the funeral service workers pick up the deceased and the process of planning funeral services begins immediately, as soon as family members are available.

Learn more

Learn more about morticians, undertakers, and funeral arrangers or funeral home managers on CareerOneStop.

Learn about professional licensure requirements for morticians.

Find training programs for mortuary science in your area.

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