How to Become a

Funeral Director

The complete career guide to be a Funeral Director: salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • $52,990
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • 6.8%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Growing Demand
    Job Outlook
  • Working With People
    Career Attribute

Funeral directors oversee all tasks related to funerals. They may manage a staff of undertakers, morticians, and embalmers, or they may perform these roles themselves. They assist grieving family members with funeral preparations and death-related paperwork to relieve the burden on loved ones.


What is a Funeral Director?

The following job responsibilities are common for individuals in funeral director roles:

  • Arrange for the transportation of deceased individuals from the location of death to the funeral home, and from funeral homes to crematories or graveyards
  • Organize and plan all details of funerals, working with the friends and family of the deceased to form and finalize wake, funeral, and burial plans
  • Assist with all death-related paperwork, such as writing and publishing obituaries, filing life insurance claims, and transferring money accounts to the deceased’s beneficiaries
  • Perform accounting and run-the-business tasks for funeral homes, arranging for payments for services and ensuring funeral home profitability
  • Manage the staff of a funeral home, including embalmers, morticians, and undertakers

A Day in the Life

After the death of a loved one, friends and family members turn to funeral homes to help plan and arrange funerals. When an individual visits a funeral home, the first person they talk to is usually the funeral director. Funeral directors work to counsel grieving loved ones and help them through trying times by assisting with all plans, preparations, and paperwork. First, they work through plans for the funeral, helping loved ones decide between cremation and burial, and choosing a service time and date.

Next, the funeral director works through the process of arranging the funeral and other death plans. The funeral director may oversee a staff of undertakers, morticians, and embalmers in large funeral homes, or he/she may handle these responsibilities him/herself in smaller funeral homes. The funeral director arranges transportation for the body to the funeral home or a crematory, ensures the body is embalmed, and arranges burial plans with graveyards chosen by the deceased’s loved ones.

The funeral director also serves as the business leader for the funeral home. He/she may assist customers with filing life insurance claims, or transferring pension or retirement plan funds or bank accounts to beneficiaries to ensure customers have the funds to pay for services. The funeral director is also responsible for ensuring profitability of the funeral home and may be in charge of hiring new staff, marketing the funeral home in the community, and overseeing operating procedures to ensure streamlined and profitable processes.

Typical Work Schedule

Funeral directors typically work at least full-time, and commonly work overtime. They may be required to be on-call to handle emergencies at all hours of the day and all days of the year. Work is often required of the funeral director to arrange for body transport and preservation, a service which may be needed in the middle of the night, on weekends, or even on holidays.

Projected Job Growth

Baby Boomers, who are now at or nearing retirement age, were one of the largest generations in recent history. This large, aging population is expected to increase the demand for funeral directors in the coming decades as more individuals will be needed to support end-of-life arrangements for a large population.

Typical Employers

Most funeral directors are employed to work for funeral homes. Some may also operate their own small funeral homes and serve in all roles: funeral director, undertaker, mortician, and embalmer.


How To Become a Funeral Director

To become a funeral director, you must earn a mortuary science degree from an accredited mortuary science school. Most of these programs result in associate’s degrees, though bachelor’s degree programs may also be available. Typically, an associate’s degree is an acceptable level of education for securing a job as a funeral director. In college, you’ll learn how to perform all roles related to funeral services, taking courses in embalming, grief counseling, funeral service management, and business law.

After graduating from a mortuary science degree program, aspiring funeral directors must then enter into an apprenticeship program where they gain practical experience by working under an experienced funeral director, mortician, or embalmer. This apprenticeship program usually lasts between one and three years. Most mortuary science schools will work to help students find apprenticeships after graduation, and students can also seek apprenticeships through a local funeral service organization.

After completing a mortuary science degree and fulfilling apprenticeship requirements, you should qualify to become licensed as a funeral director in your state. However, most funeral directors also have many years of professional experience before moving into funeral director roles. You may need to start off in lower-level roles like embalmer, undertaker, or mortician and gain professional experience managing funeral home tasks before being promoted into funeral director roles later in your career.


Funeral Director Salary Data

We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Anual Salary

Low Range

$36,250

Average

$52,990

High Range

$82,010

National Hourly Wage

Low Range

$17/hr

Average

$25/hr

High Range

$39/hr

How do Funeral Director salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Funeral Director's can make an average annual salary of $52,990, or $25 per hour. This makes it an Above Average Salary. On the lower end, they can make $36,250 or $17 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #353 Nationally for All Careers


Programs and Degrees

Here are the most common degrees for becoming a Funeral Director. a is usually recommended and specifically a degree or coursework that prepares you for the particular field, see below.


Highest Education Among Funeral Directors

  • 2.8%   Doctorate
  • 5.5%   Masters
  • 25.5%   Bachelors
  • 32%   Associates
  • 24.3%   College
  • 9.2%   High School
  • 0.7%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs

31,100

2024 Est. Jobs

33,200

Job Growth Rate

6.8%

Est. New Jobs

2,100

How does Funeral Director job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 2,100 jobs for a total of 33,200 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 6.8% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Below Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #331 Nationally for All Careers


What Companies Employ The Most Funeral Directors

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Death care services 24,400 2,000 2%
Self-employed workers 5,900 200 0%
Federal government, excluding postal service 400 -100 ---

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