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Funeral Service Manager Careers

What Does a Funeral Service Manager Do

Funeral service workers organize and manage the details of a funeral.

Duties  

Funeral service workers typically do the following:

  • Offer counsel and comfort to families and friends of the deceased
  • Arrange for removal of the deceased’s body
  • Prepare the remains (body)
  • File death certificates and other legal documents
  • Train junior staff

Funeral service workers help to determine the locations, dates, and times of visitations (wakes), funerals or memorial services, burials, and cremations. They handle other details as well, such as helping the family decide whether the body should be buried, entombed, or cremated. This decision is critical because funeral practices vary among cultures and religions.

Most funeral service workers attend to the administrative aspects pertaining to the person’s death, including submitting papers to state officials to receive a death certificate. They also may help resolve insurance claims, apply for funeral benefits, or notify the Social Security Administration or the U.S. Veterans Administration of the death.

A growing number of funeral service workers work with clients who wish to plan their own funerals in advance to ensure that their needs are met.

Funeral service workers also may help individuals adapt to changes in their lives following a death by providing information on support groups.

The following are examples of types of funeral service workers:

Funeral service managers oversee the general operations of a funeral home business. They perform a wide variety of duties, such as planning and allocating the resources of the funeral home, managing staff, and handling marketing and public relations.

Morticians, undertakers, and funeral directors plan the details of a funeral. They often prepare obituary notices and arrange for pallbearers and clergy services. If a burial is chosen, they schedule the opening and closing of a grave with a representative of the cemetery. If cremation is chosen, they coordinate the process with the crematory. They also prepare the sites of all services and provide transportation for the deceased and mourners. In addition, they arrange the shipment of bodies out of state or out of country for final disposition.

Finally, these workers handle administrative duties. For example, they often must apply for the transfer of any pensions, insurance policies, or annuities on behalf of survivors.

Most morticians, undertakers, and funeral directors embalm bodies. Embalming is a cosmetic and temporary preservative process through which the body is prepared for a viewing by family and friends of the deceased.

How To Become a Funeral Service Manager

An associate’s degree in funeral service or mortuary science is the typical education requirement for funeral service workers. With the exception of funeral service managers, all workers must be licensed in Washington, D.C. and every state in which they work, except Colorado which offers a voluntary certification program. 

Education

An associate’s degree in mortuary science is the typical education requirement for all funeral service workers. Courses taken usually include those covering the topics of ethics, grief counseling, funeral service, and business law. All accredited programs also include courses in embalming and restorative techniques. States have their own education requirements, and state licensing laws vary. Most employers require applicants to be 21 years old; have 2 years of formal education; serve a 1-year internship before, during, or after attending a mortuary college; and pass a state licensing exam after graduation. 

In some states, licensure for funeral directors and embalmers is separate.   

The American Board of Funeral Service Education (ABFSE) accredits 58 funeral service and mortuary science programs, most of which are 2-year associate’s degree programs offered at community colleges. Some programs offer a bachelor’s degree.

Although an associate’s degree is usually adequate, some employers prefer applicants to have a bachelor’s degree.

High school students can prepare to become a funeral service worker by taking courses in biology, chemistry, and business, and by participating in public speaking.

Part-time or summer jobs in funeral homes also provide valuable experience.

Training

Morticians, undertakers, and funeral directors must complete hands-on training, usually lasting 1 to 3 years, under the direction of a licensed funeral director or manager. The internship may be completed before, during, or after completing a 2-year funeral service or mortuary science program and passing a national board exam. Internships provide practical experience in all aspects of the funeral service.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

With the exception of funeral service managers, all workers must be licensed in Washington, D.C. and every state in which they work, except Colorado which offers a voluntary certification program. Although licensing laws and examinations vary by state, most applicants must meet the following criteria:       

  • Be 21 years old
  • Complete 2 years in an ABFSE funeral service or mortuary science program, and pass a national board exam
  • Serve an internship lasting 1 to 3 years

Applicants must then pass a state licensing exam. Working in multiple states will require multiple licenses. For specific requirements, applicants should contact each applicable state licensing board.

Most states require funeral directors and embalmers to receive continuing education credits annually to keep their licenses.

The International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association (ICCFA) and the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) offer crematory certification designations. A growing number of states are requiring certification for those who will perform cremations. For specific requirements, applicants should contact their state board.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Workers increasingly are being required to have some office management experience, particularly for funeral service managers who run their own funeral home business.

Important Qualities

Business skills. Knowledge of financial statements and the ability to run a funeral home efficiently and profitably are important for funeral directors and managers.

Compassion. Death is a delicate and emotional matter. Funeral service workers must be able to treat clients with care and sympathy in their time of loss.

Interpersonal skills. Funeral service workers should have good interpersonal skills. When speaking with families, for instance, they must be tactful and able to explain and discuss all matters about services provided.

Time-management skills. Funeral service workers must be able to handle numerous tasks for multiple customers, often over a short timeframe.

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Average Salary
$98,833
Average Salary
Job Growth Rate
4%
Job Growth Rate
Job Openings
10,892
Job Openings

Average Salary for a Funeral Service Manager

Funeral Service Managers in America make an average salary of $98,833 per year or $48 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $116,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $83,000 per year.
Average Salary
$98,833

Recently Added Salaries

Job TitleCompanyascdescCompanyascdescStart DateascdescSalaryascdesc
Funeral Service Managers, Directors, Morticians, and Undertakers
Funeral Service Managers, Directors, Morticians, and Undertakers
Integrity Memorial, LLC
Integrity Memorial, LLC
11/21/2013
11/21/2013
$31,30511/21/2013
$31,305
Funeral Service Managers, Directors, Morticians, and Undertakers
Funeral Service Managers, Directors, Morticians, and Undertakers
Integrity Memorial, LLC
Integrity Memorial, LLC
04/05/2013
04/05/2013
$31,30504/05/2013
$31,305

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Funeral Service Manager Demographics

Gender

male

81.8 %

female

13.6 %

unknown

4.5 %

Ethnicity

White

77.7 %

Hispanic or Latino

8.3 %

Asian

6.1 %

Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

100.0 %
See More Demographics

Funeral Service Manager Education

Majors

Business
12.5 %
Education
12.5 %

Degrees

Bachelors

31.6 %

Associate

31.6 %

High School Diploma

15.8 %

Top Colleges for Funeral Service Managers

1. University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,584
Enrollment
10,764

2. Northwestern University

Evanston, IL • Private

In-State Tuition
$54,568
Enrollment
8,451

3. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill, NC • Public

In-State Tuition
$8,987
Enrollment
18,946

4. New York University

New York, NY • Private

In-State Tuition
$51,828
Enrollment
26,339

5. University of Minnesota - Twin Cities

Minneapolis, MN • Public

In-State Tuition
$14,760
Enrollment
31,451

6. Columbia University in the City of New York

New York, NY • Private

In-State Tuition
$59,430
Enrollment
8,216

7. Stanford University

Stanford, CA • Private

In-State Tuition
$51,354
Enrollment
7,083

8. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Champaign, IL • Public

In-State Tuition
$15,094
Enrollment
32,974

9. SUNY at Buffalo

Buffalo, NY • Public

In-State Tuition
$10,099
Enrollment
21,404

10. Harvard University

Cambridge, MA • Private

In-State Tuition
$50,420
Enrollment
7,582
See More Education Info
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Top Funeral Service Manager Employers

1. Baue Funeral Homes
3.6
Avg. Salary: 
$86,432
Funeral Service Managers Hired: 
2+
2. Colorado Technical University
4.0
Avg. Salary: 
$54,514
Funeral Service Managers Hired: 
1+
3. Travis Avenue Baptist Church
3.7
Avg. Salary: 
$52,515
Funeral Service Managers Hired: 
1+
Updated October 2, 2020