How to Become an


The complete career guide to be an Undertaker: 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

Undertakers assist the friends and family members of deceased individuals by performing all arrangements for funerals and assisting with death-related paperwork and tasks. They perform all funeral arrangements and assist with tasks like writing obituaries and filing life insurance claims.

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What is an Undertaker?

The following job responsibilities are common for individuals in undertaker roles:

  • Work with the friends and family members of deceased individuals to plan funerals and showings
  • Transport bodies to funeral homes and gravesites, or to crematories
  • Assist family members with administrative tasks, such as writing obituaries, filing life insurance claims, and transferring pensions and retirement funds
  • Work to prepare bodies for showings and funerals by performing embalming responsibilities or overseeing a hired embalmer
  • Prepare funeral homes for showings and funerals

A Day in the Life

When a loved one dies, people commonly visit a funeral home to form funeral, cremation, and burial plans. While most people are familiar with the process of having a funeral, they may not be aware of just how many tasks funeral homes handle. Undertakers oversee the completion of all tasks, which include the transportation of bodies, the embalming—or preservation—of bodies, the funeral showing, cremation or burial, and helping with administrative tasks like publishing obituaries or filing life insurance claims.

The undertaker works to make the funeral home a one-stop shop for all death-related tasks. The undertaker’s goal is to alleviate the burden of planning and paperwork on families who are in the process of very new grief. The undertaker works to handle all preparations for the funeral. He/she may arrange for transporting the body to the funeral home, even from out of state. The undertaker plans the funeral, may be in charge of embalming the body or overseeing the work of an embalmer, and may work with crematories, graveyards, or clergy to finalize funeral plans and tasks.

Another important role of an undertaker is assisting friends and family with death-related paperwork. The undertaker may help write obituaries and schedule them for publication, or he/she may help beneficiaries with filing life insurance claims. In some funeral homes, the undertaker also helps beneficiaries transfer pensions, bank accounts, and retirements funds to living persons. Additionally, he/she may also be responsible for all accounting and billing tasks, arranging payment plans and billing options with customers.

Typical Work Schedule

Undertakers work full-time schedules, and commonly work overtime. The job of an undertaker is not a 9-5 role—they are on-call often to handle emergencies at all hours of the day and all days of the year. They may be required to go out in the middle of the night to transport a body to the funeral home, or they may have to work over holidays to ensure bodies received are preserved before funerals.

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 undertakers in the coming decades as more individuals will be needed to support end-of-life arrangements for a large population.

Typical Employers

Most undertakers are employed to work for funeral homes. Some may also operate their own small funeral homes and serve as both embalmer and undertaker.

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How To Become an Undertaker

To become an undertaker, 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 an undertaker. 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 undertakers must then enter into an apprenticeship program where they gain practical experience by working under an experienced funeral director, undertaker, 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 association or organization.

All states require undertakers to be licensed in order to work in their field. Licensing requirements vary by state, but generally require completion of an associate’s degree and between one and three years of experience as an apprentice. After becoming licensed, you’ll be able to find work with local funeral homes as an undertaker. Additionally, most states require that licensing candidates be at least 21-years old before applying for an undertaker’s license.

Undertaker 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

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National Hourly Wage

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How do Undertaker salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Undertaker'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 an Undertaker. a is usually recommended and specifically a degree or coursework that prepares you for the particular field, see below.

Highest Education Among Undertakers

  • 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


2024 Est. Jobs


Job Growth Rate


Est. New Jobs


How does Undertaker 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 Undertakers

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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