How to Become a Funeral Director


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 this line of work.


Below we've outlined what you'll need to succeed in a career as a funeral director. We've also included helpful occupational information, 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 this profession vary by region. Aspiring funeral directors typically do not need a bachelor’s degree, although many employers prefer candidates who have one.


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.





General Job Description

Funeral directors are responsible for coordinating and directing all aspects of a funeral service, including burial and cremations. They also provide support and advice for bereaved individuals and families.



Typical 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

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



Typical Salary Level

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 - Canada: According to the 2015 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey (the most recent figures available at the time of writing), Albertans in the Funeral Directors and Embalmers occupational group earn an average wage of $23.30 - $37.00 per hour. According to the Province of British Columbia, those in the same occupational group working in B.C. earn an annual provincial median salary of $53,165. Unfortunately, no similar statistics were available from reliable sources for other Canadian provinces or territories at the time of writing (July 29, 2019).


Salary - United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for workers in the Funeral Directors occupational group is $57,580 per year (May, 2018 figures).





Skills and Qualities Needed to Be Successful

To be 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



Who Employs 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. 



Funeral Director Jobs - Current Opportunities

Our job board below has "funeral director" postings in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia, when available:




Working Conditions Typical to This Profession

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. 



Similar Careers in Our Database

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.


Administrative Director

Event Planner

Hotel Manager

Operations Manager

Support Services Manager



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.




Please use the references below to find more information on the various aspects of a career as a funeral director.


Occupations in Alberta:Funeral Director.” (March 31, 2019). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved November 28, 2019.

Occupational Employment and Wages:Morticians, Undertakers, and Funeral Directors.” (March 29, 2019). Occupational Outlook Handbook - United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Retrieved November 28, 2019.

Explore Careers:Funeral directors and embalmers.” Harris Hill (January 3, 2019) WorkBC website. Retrieved November 28, 2019.

Explore Careers:Funeral Director.” (n.d.) National Careers Service website. Retrieved November 28, 2019.



Scholarships for Becoming a Funeral Director

Scholarships listed for majors that are relevant to this profession can be found on our All Scholarships by Major page, by finding the pages that correspond to the majors listed on our "Relevant Fields of Study" section below. Any scholarships found within those pages will be suitable.


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!



Relevant Fields of Study

Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point for getting started in this profession. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


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Funeral Director