After the death of a loved one, most family members may not want to deal with all the ins and outs of a funeral. That’s where a mortician, also known as a funeral director, comes in.
Morticians are known to help families of the deceased by managing the details involved in planning a funeral. Their duties tend to include moving the body to a mortuary, preparing the remains for a ceremony, performing rites in accordance with the spiritual requirements of the family and arranging for the final disposition of the body.
Note that the job of a mortician can be quite stressful and emotionally taxing, and funeral service workers generally are expected to be on call 24 hours a day, including evenings and weekends.
Morticians are expected to have compassion and strong communication skills to work with clients at those trying times and help them make decisions about funeral arrangements. Morticians may also work with people who intend to plan their own funeral or cremation while they are still alive.
They also have to work with their clients to determine what type of viewing will be held, if any and what sort of services they would like performed before burial or cremation. These experts may also embalm bodies, dress them, style their hair and makeup, or cremate them. They also oversee viewings and funerals to make sure all goes according to plan.
Coupled with preparing the body and taking care of necessary details of viewings and funerals, morticians also help clients sort through legal and financial obligations such as filing a death certificate or submitting insurance claims. They may also direct clients to resources like counsellors and support groups to help them cope with their grief.
Have it in mind that becoming a mortician requires more than just compassion and communication skills, but the ability to handle unpleasant sights and smells and work long, non-traditional hours.
Anyone looking to become a mortician is expected to be respectful of different spiritual beliefs and religious traditions. This work may not have set office hours, since the services of a mortician may be required at any time of the day or night, and a certain amount of empathy is also required when dealing with family members of the deceased.
Morticians are also known to gather information about the deceased to file the death certificate and other legal documents. He or she also helps the survivors to file claims for benefits. According to 2022 data from PayScale.com, the median annual salary for morticians was $49,352.
Steps to Becoming a Mortician in the United States
It’s imperative to state that the steps to becoming a mortician vary from one state to another and it also tends to depend upon state regulations. Note that you can research the information for your state, as well as contact information for state funeral service boards on the National Funeral Directors Association website.
Training and Education
If you live in a state that does not mandated a college education to become a mortician, then you may be able to find an entry-level position that offers extensive on-the-job training. Although this may seem to be the easiest and fastest route to becoming a mortician, it may take a great deal of persistence to find a funeral home that is willing to hire an untrained candidate.
In most states in the United States, morticians are expected to hold at least an associate’s degree in mortuary science in order to become licensed. In the United States, there are presently 57 mortuary science programs that are accredited through the ABFSE. And most of these programs offer associate’s degree programs through local community colleges, while around nine schools offer bachelor degrees. Note that it normally takes around 2 years of full-time study to earn an associate’s degree and around 4 years to earn a bachelor’s degree.
Completing an Apprenticeship
Since most states mandate every mortician to start and complete an apprenticeship before acquiring a funeral director license, it is pertinent to start working with a sponsor as soon as possible. Take your time to locate a licensed funeral director who is willing to take on an apprentice in accordance with your state’s requirements. Also note that some states will issue a mortician’s apprentice license after you appear before the State Board of Morticians and Funeral Directors with your sponsor mortician and sign a written agreement to the conditions of the apprenticeship. However, if your state requires that you assist in funerals and embalming as part of your apprenticeship, you will be expected, along with your sponsor, to submit complete documentation of each completed task.
Become Licensed and Certified
In most states, you are expected to be licensed before you can work as a mortician or funeral director. These requirements vary from one state to the next, but also tend to require that candidates complete at least a two-year program in mortuary science that is accredited through the ABFSE. Additionally, most states will also require that applicants be at least 21 years of age, that they serve as an apprentice for between 1-3 years, and that they pass the licensing examination.
Howbeit, Certifications are not mandatory for morticians, but acquiring suitable and industry recognised certifications can provide a great resume boost and may lead to increased job opportunities and salaries. In the United States, there are quite a good number of certifications available, including those of Certified Crematory Operator and Certified Preplanning Consultant. Both of these are available through the National Funeral Directors Association.
Have it in mind that most states expect morticians to participate in continuing education activities in order to maintain licensure. This continuing education will enable a mortician to stay current on laws relating to funeral services, as well as advancements and trends in the funeral service industry. Also have it in mind that continuing education options are available through distance or on-site learning. Distance options include webinars, teleconferences and online coursework. On-site options include professional development courses, workshops and seminars. Optional designations, like the renowned Certified Funeral Service Practitioner (CFSP) offered by the Academy of Professional Funeral Service Practice, can help a mortician stand out in the field and expand career options.
There will always be a demand for morticians, as people die every single day. If you are licensed in both embalming and funeral directing, and willing to relocate, you will have the best chance of employment. According to reports, the job outlook for this career is very favourable and both licensed funeral directors and embalmers have the best chance of employment. Many jobs may open in this field due to the fact that many funeral directors are retiring or leaving the occupation. The job is fairly satisfactory for most people working as morticians and it is a meaningful job that makes you feel good, for giving the family the last moments with their loved ones.