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Become A Mortician

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Working As A Mortician

  • Getting Information
  • Assisting and Caring for Others
  • Performing for or Working Directly with the Public
  • Communicating with Persons Outside Organization
  • Coordinating the Work and Activities of Others
  • Deal with People

  • Make Decisions

  • Repetitive

  • Stressful

  • $47,250

    Average Salary

What Does A Mortician 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.

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How To Become A Mortician

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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Mortician Jobs

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Mortician Typical Career Paths

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Mortician Demographics

Gender

Male

56.5%

Female

40.7%

Unknown

2.8%
Ethnicity

White

62.5%

Hispanic or Latino

14.8%

Black or African American

12.7%

Asian

6.2%

Unknown

3.8%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

40.0%

Portuguese

20.0%

Italian

20.0%

French

20.0%
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Mortician Education

Schools

University of Central Oklahoma

10.3%

Texas Southern University

6.9%

Delgado Community College

6.9%

Wayne State University

6.9%

Commonwealth Institute of Funeral Service

6.9%

Mt. Hood Community College

6.9%

Kansas City Kansas Community College

6.9%

The Academy

6.9%

Columbus State Community College

3.4%

Apex School of Theology

3.4%

Stillman College

3.4%

American Career Institute

3.4%

University of Baltimore

3.4%

Brigham Young University - Idaho

3.4%

Dallas Institute of Funeral Service

3.4%

Clark Atlanta University

3.4%

Benedict College

3.4%

Tuskegee University

3.4%

Stevenson University

3.4%

University of New England

3.4%
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Majors

Mortuary Science

29.1%

Business

14.5%

Biology

7.3%

Psychology

5.5%

General Studies

5.5%

Medical Assisting Services

3.6%

Kinesiology

3.6%

Cell Biology And Anatomical Science

3.6%

Nursing

3.6%

Criminal Justice

3.6%

Counseling Psychology

3.6%

Management

1.8%

Medical Technician

1.8%

Writing

1.8%

Social Sciences

1.8%

Computer Applications

1.8%

Health/Medical Preparatory Programs

1.8%

Social Work

1.8%

Fire Science And Protection

1.8%

Heating And Air Conditioning

1.8%
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Degrees

Other

38.2%

Bachelors

26.5%

Associate

20.6%

Masters

7.4%

Doctorate

2.9%

License

1.5%

Certificate

1.5%

Diploma

1.5%
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Top Skills for A Mortician

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  1. Funeral Services
  2. Body Removals
  3. Death Certificates
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Performed funeral services and visitations.
  • Cooperated with local Law Enforcement Officers during body removals.
  • Consult with family to obtain information needed to complete legal documents, like death certificates or burial permits.
  • Provide information on funeral service options, products and maintain a casket display area.
  • Service planning and facilitation; Embalming and body preparation; Inventory tracking.

How Would You Rate Working As a Mortician?

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Top Mortician Employers

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Jobs From Top Mortician Employers

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