How to Become a Mortician in the US
Published Jan 11, 2021
The last thing any grieving family member or loved one needs to go through is the hassle and stress involved in arranging a funeral. This is where morticians come in. Morticians, also commonly known as funeral directors, are responsible for planning and carrying out funeral arrangements on behalf of the bereaved. If you have plans of becoming one, this article’s perfect for you. Here’s a guide on how to become a mortician in the US.
What does a mortician do?
Before we cover how to become a mortician, it’s crucial you have a clear understanding of what a mortician is and what they do. If you’ve ever had any personal experience with funeral arrangements, you’d know that a mortician is a do-it-all extraordinaire. They do everything from scheduling a burial to preparing the body for viewing and complying with all the legal requirements. Here’s a list of the specific duties of a mortician:
- Preparing obituary notices
- Organizing the burial
- Arranging transportation for the body and the funeral guests
- Embalming the body for viewing and burial
- Preparing all the sites for the various services
- Putting together the funeral service
- Coordinating with the crematorium
- Complying with all the legal paperwork requirements for the death certificate
- Occasionally providing emotional support for the loved ones and relatives of the departed
How much money does a mortician make?
The big question on everybody’s mind when considering a career path is money. According to Payscale, the average annual salary for morticians in America is $49,563. When you first start out, you should expect to make around $21,000, but that will naturally increase with your educational attainments and experience. The 90th percentile of morticians makes about $69,000 annually.
What are the steps to becoming a mortician?
Now that we’ve covered the basics in terms of the responsibilities and salary let’s move on to the main event: how to become a mortician. As with most jobs, you will need to follow a specific educational path.
Get an education
Although it may seem like a relatively simple job, morticians need to amount a healthy amount of degrees in order to practice. To become a mortician, you must have an associate’s degree, and in some cases, a bachelor’s degree. The program you will need to enroll in is called “Mortuary Science.” Still, you will need to attend a school that is accredited by the American Board of Funeral Service Education (ABFSE). You should expect the following courses in that program:
- professional ethics
- funeral service psychology and counseling
- restorative art
- federal regulations and mortuary law
Complete an Apprenticeship
The ABFSE requires you to apprentice under a licensed and practicing mortician for one to three years before becoming a professional yourself. The great thing is that this doesn’t follow a linear path after getting an education, as you can complete your apprenticeship before, during, or after your formal education. Some states may require apprentices to have an apprentice license, so you might want to confer with state laws and regulations beforehand.
Pass the Licensure Exam
Morticians are required to pass a state licensure exam in order to practice. Candidates must have completed the two steps prior to this one and be at least 21 years of age. When preparing for your exam, you’ll want to look out for the following subjects:
- business law
- funeral service merchandising
- funeral service history
You will also find that a funeral director exam is separate from the embalmer licensing one in some states.
The final step, which will be an ongoing or continuous process, involves keeping up with rules and regulations to keep practicing legally (Please don’t practice illegally). Some stays require morticians to participate in continuing education activities, keeping them updated o the most relevant trends and developments in the industry, making them better morticians overall. You have two options in continuing education: in-person and online; both are equally valid.
About The Author
Terrence Tan Ting is an industrial engineer by profession but a full time writer by passion. He loves to write about a wide range of topics from many different industries thanks to his undying curiosity.