How to Become a Mortician

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Mortician Career Options, Benefits and Challenges

If being of service to grieving families is something that interests you, consider a career as a mortician. In this role, you'll help individuals, couples and families make decisions about cremation, burial, funerals and memorial services. Many funeral homes are family-owned businesses, operated by multiple generations of relatives. Work hours are not always consistent, which may allow working mothers to accommodate their family schedules.

Job Description

A mortician, sometimes also called a funeral director or undertaker, cares for the remains of the deceased, coordinates administrative matters and makes arrangements for religious or non-religious services in honor of the deceased. Common tasks performed by morticians include:

  • Transporting the deceased's body from a hospital to a funeral home or crematorium.
  • Arranging for long-distance transportation of a body to the deceased's hometown or another location.
  • Providing information to the deceased's family about cremation, burial and funeral options.
  • Arranging

    for the purchase of caskets, urns, vaults and floral arrangements.
    Providing space in a funeral home chapel for viewings, funerals and memorial services. Working with clergy or other officiants in planning and conducting a service. Notifying the Social Security Administration and other relevant agencies of the death. Coordinating burials with local cemeteries. * Embalming the body for viewing.

Education Requirements

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, morticians typically prepare for their careers by completing an educational program as well as an internship or apprenticeship in a funeral home. Both community colleges and universities offer degrees in mortuary science or funeral service.

While an associate's degree is typically considered standard, holding a bachelor's degree may lead to more job opportunities or career advancement. Another consideration is accreditation: The American Board of Funeral Service Education accredits degree offerings, and you may have an easier time finding a job if you graduate from an ABFSE-accredited program.

All states, with the exception of Colorado, require morticians to hold a professional license. Licensing requirements include completing an educational program, an internship or apprenticeship and passing an exam. In addition, morticians who offer cremation services are required by many states to obtain professional certification through a recognized industry organization, such as the Cremation Association of North America.

According to the BLS, the median annual wage for morticians as of May 2020 was $74,070. The top 10 percent of earners made more than $91,140 and the bottom 10 percent earned less than $29,080.

About the Industry

Most morticians, 88 percent, work for funeral homes or other death care services. As a mortician, you can expect to work full-time and often must work within strict deadlines. Depending on a variety of circumstances, including the religious tradition of the deceased and family, you may be expected to coordinate a funeral or memorial service within 24 to 72 hours after being contacted by a family or hospital. This kind of urgency can require you to work evenings, nights and weekends.

Years of Experience

Entry-level morticians can expect to earn more as they gain more experience. Here's how experience corresponds to median average wages according to a survey by

  • 0-5 years: $39,000 
  • 5-10 years: $44,000 
  • 10-20 years: $53,000 
  • 20+ years: $55,000 

Job Growth Trend

Employment for morticians and funeral directors is projected to increase by about 4 percent between 2020 and 2030. The BLS notes that funeral service workers can improve their employment prospects by obtaining licensing in both embalming and funeral direction. Job opportunities may be better in certain parts of the country.