How To Become a Funeral Service Worker

A Funeral Service Worker plays an essential role in how a family deals with the grief of losing their loved one. As some deaths are expected, others are a horrific unexpected event that puts families into a state of shock. 

The Funeral Service Worker must be compassionate and readily available to accommodate clients on many different levels. Find out more below to see if the funeral business is for you! 

Related Article: The 40 Highest Paying Jobs With A Trade School Education

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What does a Funeral Service Worker do?

As you can imagine, losing a loved one is upsetting, stressful, and often life-changing. As a Funeral Service Worker, you will have many responsibilities, such as: 

  • Consult with clients to choose final arrangements,
  • Schedule visitations,
  • Schedule and direct memorial services, 
  • Pick up the deceased body and prepare for burial or cremation,
  • Handle cremations and ashes,
  • Provides counsel to families, often based on their religion and culture,
  • File death certificates with state and SSA or VA,
  • Handle pre-planned funeral arrangements,
  • And, much more, depending on your training! 

How do I become a Funeral Service Worker?

Generally, to enter the funeral service business, you will be expected to have earned an associate degree in funeral service or mortuary science. Your program should take you about two years to complete.

Depending on your potential employer, they may prefer you to have a bachelor’s degree in the field. 

What will I learn in an associate degree program?

Coursework will include grief counseling, business law and ethics, grief counseling, restorative techniques, and embalming, just to name a few.

What are the requirements for obtaining a job in a Funeral Service career?

Most employers will require you to have an associate degree and be at least 21 years old. If hired, you will receive on-the-job training under the watch of a licensed Funeral Manager (usually lasting one to three years), and then you will need to pass your licensing exam per your state’s requirements.

What is the accrediting agency for schools offering associate degrees in the funeral industry?

Most community colleges offer two-year associate degrees designed to assist you in the Funeral Service career. The American Board of Funeral Service Education (ABFSE) is the appropriate accrediting agency to look for.  

What jobs are available within the field of Funeral Service?

If you are interested in entering the funeral industry, there are several career options to consider, such as: 

  • Funeral Home Director
  • Funeral Director
  • Crematory Technician
  • Mortician/Embalmer
  • Ceremonialist
  • Funeral Supply Sales
  • Armed Services Funeral Services
  • Pathology Technician
  • Funeral Service Sales
  • Administrative Services
  • Grief Counseling
  • Cosmetologist/Make-up Artist

How much money do Funeral Service Workers earn?

According to the BLS, Funeral Home Managers earned, on average, $74,200 annually as of May 2020, with the highest 10% earning upwards of $156,940 per year. 

Morticians, Funeral Arrangers, and Undertakers earned $54,100 per year, with the highest 10% earning upwards of $91,140 annually during the same time period. 

Is there a job demand for Funeral Service personnel?

According to the BLS, the job growth rate for Funeral Service Workers is projected to grow by 4% between 2020 and 2030, adding about 4,000 new positions to the job market each year. 

Am I suited to work in the Funeral Services business?

Becoming a Funeral Service Worker is not the job for everyone, as many do not want to be exposed to this stage of the life cycle… which is death. Understandably, this field can be stressful and depressing for some. 

To excel in this field, you should have the following qualities, in addition to the proper training: 

  • Empathetic and compassionate towards others,
  • Good communication skills,
  • Interpersonal skills,
  • Excellent time-management skills,
  • Physical strength,
  • Well-organized,
  • Good listening skills,
  • Creative,
  • Mentally strong,
  • Reliable,
  • Works well under pressure, 
  • Have exceptional business skills.

Do Funeral Service Workers need licenses or certifications?

Yes, most states will require you to be licensed. Qualifications vary per state; however, typical requirements include:

  • A minimum of 21 years old,
  • Graduated from an ABFSE accredited associate degree program, 
  • One to three years of on-the-job training, 
  • And, of course, pass the national board exam.

If you work in multiple states, you will need the applicable license to work there. Also, you will need to continue your education to keep your license current.

In addition, you may be required to have certifications in cremation, offered by the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA), International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association (ICCFA), or the Cremation Association of North America (CANA).

Will I need to work an internship for experience?

After graduating from your degree program, on-the-job experience will be invaluable and is required to obtain your license.

If you are a High School student interested in working in the Funeral Service business, you should seek an internship during the summer for wonderful real-world work experience and a feel for the industry before entering a degree program. Internships are great for “testing the waters,” as it’s not for the faint of heart!