How Do I Become a Mortician?

Morticians prepare the dead for burial and organize funeral services. Discover the skills required and the outlook and salary potential for a career as a mortician. Schools offering Culinary Arts degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What a Mortician Does

A mortician, also called a funeral director, is responsible for the posthumous treatment and preparation of the deceased. Morticians must also manage funeral homes as well as organizing funeral services for the loved ones of the deceased. Being a mortician strikes a delicate balance between business, psychology and science.

Education and Training

In the past, most morticians simply received on-the-job training through apprenticeships. However, in order to become a licensed professional mortician these days, it's become necessary in almost all states for you to earn at least an associate's degree in mortuary science. To enroll in a 2-year associate's degree program in mortuary science, you must have either a high school diploma or a GED.

Courses cover mortuary management, marketing, human anatomy, embalming, modern funeral practices and coping with loss. With an associate's degree, you'll be eligible for entry-level positions at funeral homes, mausoleums and cemeteries. Many students choose to continue their education toward bachelor's degrees in mortuary science rather than seeking employment immediately.

Necessary Skills

In order to be a successful mortician, you'll need to combine various skill sets. In order to prepare the deceased for service and burial, you'll need a thorough awareness of human anatomy. You'll also need to know the processes of restorative art, as well as having skills with cremation and burial preparation. A strong business acumen and understanding of business law is necessary for the smooth and professional management of a funeral home. Because dealing with the bereaved is a large part of the job, skills in grief psychology and counseling are mandatory.

Salary Information

Mortuary science is a growing professional field. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of funeral director jobs was expected to increase by 12% between 2008 and 2018 (www.bls.gov). The BLS also stated that the median annual wage among funeral directors was $54,370 as of May 2009. In 2011, a Payscale.com report stated that the middle 50% of morticians made between $30,667 and $50,424.

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