Grave Digger
How to Become a

Grave Digger

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

Why We Love It

  • $27,840
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • 5.1%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Growing Demand
    Job Outlook
  • Don't Take Work Home
    Career Attribute

Under immediate supervision, a grave digger is responsible for digging graves in city cemeteries, which requires high levels of physical effort under all kinds of weather conditions.


What is a Grave Digger?

Duties

Here are the tasks to be performed by a grave digger on a regular basis:

  • Use tools or equipment like shovels, tractors, or lawn mowers in the process of digging graves to the proper level.
  • Provide assistance with lifting and accurately placing coffins on lowering devices into the assigned grave.
  • Frequently cleaning and removing ice or debris from cemetery grounds, utilizing power trimmers, chainsaws, axes, shovels, rakes, blowers, vacuums, etc.

Day In The Life

If you are comfortable with death and enjoy working outdoors for long hours, then working as a gravedigger is a good career prospect. You will be working in landscaped cemeteries with the primary task of digging graves for coffins to be placed. While some professionals still prefer the old school method of digging with a shovel or axe, most have upgraded to excavation equipment to complete the job in less than half the time. While manual digging can take up to eight hours, with a backhoe, you would complete digging a grave in 30 minutes.

Typically, gravediggers are supplied with a specified coffin size and the scheduled day of the funeral, since digging should be completed at least one hour before the ceremony time. Due to the sensitive nature of the proceedings, the dirt is loaded into a vehicle and covertly removed from the cemetery. Once mourners leave after the ceremony, it is the grave digger’s job to return with the dirt to fill the grave and prepare the site according to established protocols. In this role, you must be aware of the type of soil you are digging in, which will influence how long it takes and the depth of the grave.

Every plot in a cemetery is optimally planned to increase capacity of available grave sites. In certain cases, graves are placed only five inches apart from the next, so a gravedigger must be very accurate and able to complete digging without displacing or affecting the next grave. In addition, digging a big hole is not easy since one has to be careful of underlying rocks, frozen soil and roots from trees. In colder climates, a burial could be delayed till spring since the ground must thaw before a gravedigger can complete his or her task.

Work Schedule

As a grave digger, your working hours will range between 9 am to 5 pm, from Monday to Friday. On an occasional basis, you may have to work over the weekends and remain outdoors in all sorts of weather. Overtime is not unusual, since staff have to sacrifice holidays and weekends when necessary to meet the requirements of the cemetery. You might also be called back to the work site in case of emergency overtime work. The role is physically demanding and you should be in good health to sustain this profession, as it involves using heavy machinery and equipment.

Growth Of The Job

As per the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for grounds maintenance workers such as a grave digger is projected to rise by 20% during the 2010-2020 decade. This marks an increase of 254,600 potential jobs, which is far higher than the average growth rate for other professions in the nation. Once you gain sufficient experience, you can be promoted to supervisor, Cemetery Caretaker Technician or Burial Grounds Custodian.

Typical Employers

While digging graves may not be the most exciting career choice, it provides great job security and is a rapidly growing sector. You can find employment at local cemeteries, funeral homes or via government bodies such as the US Department of Veteran Affairs. This particular department oversees the military cemetery system in the country. Some municipalities have employment advertisements for grave digger positions online and at their employment office at City Hall.


How To Become a Grave Digger

If you intend to work as a grave digger, no formal education is required but should possess some relevant skills like gardening, familiarity with equipment and power tools, etc. Having a driver’s license is particularly helpful when marketing yourself in this field since you may use tractors to dig graves efficiently.  If you are particularly enterprising, approaching a recruitment agency is a wise choice. They have a screening process to better identify candidates that will be able to handle the sensitive nature of grave digging.


Grave Digger 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

$20,270

Average

$27,840

High Range

$41,780

National Hourly Wage

Low Range

$10/hr

Average

$13/hr

High Range

$20/hr

How do Grave Digger salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Grave Digger's can make an average annual salary of $27,840, or $13 per hour. This makes it an Above Average Salary. On the lower end, they can make $20,270 or $10 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #731 Nationally for All Careers


Highest Education Among Grave Diggers

  • 0.2%   Doctorate
  • 0.7%   Masters
  • 5.2%   Bachelors
  • 5.2%   Associates
  • 21%   College
  • 48.2%   High School
  • 19.6%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs

2,441,300

2024 Est. Jobs

2,566,400

Job Growth Rate

5.1%

Est. New Jobs

125,100

How does Grave Digger job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 125,100 jobs for a total of 2,566,400 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 5.1% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Below Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #434 Nationally for All Careers


What Companies Employ The Most Grave Diggers

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Temporary help services 435,500 74,800 75%
Warehousing and storage 190,200 9,200 9%
Department stores 80,200 -16,400 -16%

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