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Funeral coordinators--more widely known as funeral directors, morticians or undertakers--arrange and direct services for the deceased. Tasks include moving the body to a mortuary, preparing the remains, performing or arranging a ceremony that honors the deceased, preparing and submitting necessary paperwork to government agencies and carrying out final disposition of the body. Most funeral directors are also owner-operators of their mortuaries and are responsible for managing business tasks, maintaining financial records and performing general clerical duties. Because all states require that funeral directors be licensed, special preparation and training programs are necessary.
Obtain a high school diploma or GED. Upon completion of high school, determine an academic plan of action. Some colleges, vocational schools and universities offer 2- or 4-year programs in mortuary science. Most states require funeral director candidates to hold an associate degree with some coursework in funeral service education. Relevant coursework also includes social service, public health, law and business management. Once an educational plan is developed, carry it out by applying to schools offering courses in funeral service education, completing registration requirements and attending classes. Successfully complete a program of study.
Apply for an apprenticeship in an accredited funeral home or mortuary. Many apprenticeships last more than a year; some states specify the required length of internship. Additionally, some 4-year college programs in mortuary science allow students to complete apprenticeship or internship requirements as part of a degree program.
Register and prepare for a state and/or national licensing exam. Preparation may include visiting funeral education websites, attending pre-exam seminars, reading texts on funeral education and completing study guides. Exams may include some oral questions and some written responses.
Complete your state's application for licensure. Send necessary paperwork and credentials to the licensing board. Once your license is approved, seek employment with a mortuary or funeral home.
Funeral coordinators are often affiliated with churches or other places of worship. They serve as liaisons between funeral homes and religious institutions. Most of these positions are voluntary and part-time. All funeral directors do not work as embalmers; however, most funeral directors are capable of performing embalming and directing duties. Some states require that all funeral directors receive separate embalming licenses.
States have specific guidelines for attaining licensure. Be sure to contact your state's funeral directors association for more information before embarking on a career. Funeral directors who move to other states must make sure that they meet licensing requirements before obtaining a job. Some states have reciprocity agreements with other states while some do not.
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Kendall Olsen has been writing for more than 20 years She is a University of Missouri-St. Louis Gateway Writing Project Fellow and has published instructional materials with the McDonald Publishing Company. Olsen holds an Ed.S. in educational technology, an M.Ed. in secondary English curriculum and instruction, a B.S. in elementary education and a B.A. in art history.