How to Become a Funeral Director: Career Path Guide
If you want to become a funeral director, you need to first determine if this career is a good fit for you.
Do you have strong verbal communication and people skills? Can you deal distressing situations in a sensitive and caring manner? Are you able to delegate duties and ensure things are done on time?
If so, then you may be well suited for a career as a funeral director.
Below we've outlined what you'll need to succeed in a career as a funeral director. We've also included helpful information for a funeral director career, such as job description, job duties, salary expectations, a list of possible employers and much more!
Education Needed to Become a Funeral Director
The educational requirements for become a funeral director may vary by region. Aspiring funeral directors typically do not need a bachelor’s degree to get a job as a funeral director, although many employers prefer candidates who have a degree.
Aspiring funeral directors typically need to be licensed, which usually involves completing a diploma or certificate program in a field such as Mortuary Science or Funeral Service Foundations. A select few post-secondary institutions, some of which offer programs online, offer these programs. They include coursework that gives students skills, knowledge and competencies in areas such as:
• Introduction to funeral services
• Roles within funeral service
• The impact of loss and grief
• Arranging a funeral
Having a diploma or a degree in an area such as Business Administration, or Business Management, can also serve as a great foundation for this career.
Success Tip: Speak with a funeral director in your area, they may be able to provide you with hands-on guidance with regards to becoming a funeral director.
Funeral Director Job Description
Funeral directors are responsible for coordinating and directing all aspects of a funeral service, including burial and cremations. Funeral directors also provide support and advice for bereaved individuals and families.
Funeral Director Job Duties
• Confer with the family of the deceased regarding the nature of the funeral service to be conducted
• Confer with the family of the deceased regarding the disposition of the remains and costs of the funeral
• Arrange the transfer of the remains from the place of death to the funeral home
• Issue death notices to newspaper personnel
• Supervise the activities of embalmers and funeral home attendants
• Order materials and supplies
• Maintain financial records of the funeral home
Licensing Requirements for Becoming a Funeral Director
In order to become a funeral director in Canada or the United States, you typically need to be licensed by the province or state you wish to work in. While licensing requirements may vary by state or province, they typically include such criteria as:
• Serving an apprenticeship with, or being sponsored by a funeral home
• Performing a certain amount of work or volunteer hours in a funeral home
• Participation in a certain number of funeral services
• Be at least 18 years of age in Canada, or 21 years of age in the United States
• Completion of a diploma or certificate program, such as Mortuary Science, Funeral Service Foundations or a similar program
• Pass a licensing exam
• Continuing education to maintain license
Success Tip: For specific licensing requirements, please contact your provincial or state licensing board
Work Conditions of Funeral Directors
Work Environment: The job of a funeral director involves dealing sensitively with bereaved individuals and families, which can be emotionally difficult and somber. As funeral directors typically have to arrange funeral details within 72 hours of a death, their job can be quite stressful. Funeral directors also work with corpses, which can be emotional, although typically does not pose a health risk if health and safety regulations are followed.
Work Setting: Funeral directors mostly work in funeral home and crematories. Funeral directors must typically attend the funerals they are directing, which involves working outside in a variety of weather conditions.
Work Schedule: Most funeral directors work on a full-time basis, possibly on a rotation or shift system. They are often on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Funeral directors can typically accomplish their administrative work during office hours, however they often have to visit clients during the evenings and weekends in order to discuss funeral arrangements.
Who Hires Funeral Directors? Where Do They Work?
Funeral directors are hired by funeral homes in large and small urban centres, as well as rural communities. These funeral homes may be small, family run homes or large, corporately owned or franchised funeral homes. Employment with smaller funeral homes may be harder to find, as they tend to have fewer employment opportunities than larger funeral homes.
Funeral directors may also be self-employed as funeral home owners, which requires a significant amount of capital, as new funeral homes are expensive to establish and furnish, and existing homes are expensive to purchase.
Find Funeral Director Job Postings
Funeral Director Salary: How Much Do Funeral Directors Earn?
The salary level for funeral directors can vary depending on factors such as their level of experience, their level of education, where they work, and many others.
Funeral Director Salary Alberta: According to the 2011 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans in the Funeral Directors and Embalmers occupational group earn an average wage of $25.06 per hour.
Funeral Director Salary Canada: According to Statistics Canada, the average salary for workers in the Funeral Director and Embalmers occupational group is $45,157 per year.
Funeral Director Salary United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for workers in the Funeral Directors occupational group is $54,330 per year.
Skills and Qualities Needed to Become a Funeral Director
In order to become successful as a funeral director, you should have many of the skills and personal qualities listed below:
• Excellent communication and people skills
• A serious and dignified manner
• Must be attentive to details
• Must be highly organized
• Must be able to deal with distressing situations in a sensitive manner
• Must be sensitive to the needs of bereaved individuals and families
• Must be tactful
• Must be emotionally stable
• Must be accepting of different religious beliefs
Careers Similar to Funeral Director
Listed below are careers in our database that are similar in nature to that of a funeral director, as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.
Interview with a Funeral Director
Do you want to hear what a career as a funeral director is like, from the perspective of someone working in the field? Read the interview we've conducted with Adam Roddis, a funeral director with Dignity Memorial.
References: How to Become a Funeral Director
Please use the references below to find more information on the various aspects of a career as a funeral director.
Alberta Learning and Information Services website: alis.alberta.ca
National Careers Services website (U.K.) website: nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk
Service Canada website: www.servicecanada.gc.ca
United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website: www.bls.gov
Scholarships for Becoming a Funeral Director
Scholarships listed for majors that apply to becoming a Funeral Director can be found on our All Scholarships by Major page.
Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!
Becoming a Funeral Director: Applicable Majors
Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point to becoming a funeral director. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!