November 6, 2020
Given the change of course that has happened in the world, we wanted to provide expert opinions on what aspiring graduates can do to start off their careers in an uncertain economic climate. We wanted to know what skills will be more important, where the economy is doing relatively well, and if there will be any lasting effects on the job market.
Companies are looking for candidates that can handle the new responsibilities of the job market. Recent graduates actually have an advantage because they are comfortable using newer technologies and have been communicating virtually their whole lives. They can take what they've learned and apply it immediately.
We spoke to professors and experts from several universities and companies to get their opinions on where the job market for recent graduates is heading, as well as how young graduates entering the industry can be adequately prepared. Here are their thoughts.
Barbara Kemmis: The job prospects for new funeral directors, crematory operators, and cemetery workers are bright. Deemed essential workers, the demand is higher than ever for qualified and experienced workers across the country.
Barbara Kemmis: In most states, an Associates Degree is required as well as a licensing exam to become a funeral director. However, there are entry-level administrative, sales, and transport positions available,
Barbara Kemmis: Generally speaking, there is strong demand throughout the U.S., but there is a great need for licensed funeral directors in rural areas of the country. These positions often come with housing (i.e., an apartment above a funeral home) and great wages.
Barbara Kemmis: The pandemic has accelerated a trend of older workers leaving the profession. There are not nearly enough new graduates to replace current workers, so the prospects are good for future entrants to the death care profession.
American Board of Funeral Service Education (ABFSE)
Dr. Jzyk Ennis Ph.D.: The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly been an interesting time for all of education. To the specific question about employment forecasts, there is a significant need for licensed funeral service professionals across the United States. Before the pandemic, there are many areas that cannot find licensed help to fill the employment vacancies created by those who are retiring. Data for 2020 will not be collected and analyzed until 2021.
At this time, we have no reason to believe that the number of new enrollees and graduates in our ABFSE accredited programs will be significantly impacted by the pandemic in 2020. What we do as funeral professionals, and the job function of graduates in 2020 (and beyond), has not really changed due to the pandemic. We still care for the living by taking care of the dead. We always teach (and businesses should practice) universal precautions by wearing personal protective equipment when in contact with decedents. We teach our students to treat every decedent as if they had an infectious disease to protect their own health. While no research has been conducted, I do believe that funeral service professionals are more at-risk in the pandemic with contact they may have with the living rather than the dead.
In summary, the outlook for licensed funeral service professionals is strong. The basic job function of our graduates is the same as before the pandemic, and the American Board of Funeral Service accredited funeral service education programs continue to prepare graduates for licensed funeral service practice during this pandemic and beyond.