How to Become a Mortician in Michigan

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Morticians or funeral directors perform services that have a profound impact on grieving families and communities. Michigan regards mortuary science as an important, skilled discipline requiring proper education, training and licensing. The Michigan Board of Mortuary Science accredits only those who demonstrate their understanding of science, law and ethics through a national examination.

Plan your education. Michigan allows two tracks of mortuary science education: baccalaureate and non-baccalaureate. Baccalaureates can be a four-year degree of any kind. Those who have or intend to earn a four-year college degree must take a mortuary science certification course approved by the American Board of Funeral Service Education, earning no less than a 2.0 grade point average. Non-baccalaureate candidates must have either 60 semester or 90 quarter credits from an accredited community college, college or university. In addition they must also undergo a mortuary science certification course, graduating with no less than a 2.0 GPA.

Enroll in your college and a supplemental mortuary science program. General college coursework for both baccalaureate and non-baccalaureate candidates must include psychology, gerontology, death and dying, public speaking, communications, comparative religion and multicultural studies.

Secure a sponsor and training residency. Under the supervision of a licensed funeral director or mortician, you must work for 40 hours per week for one year and perform at least 25 embalmings. Other essential activities you must perform at least 20 times each include assisting a customer purchase funeral merchandise, filing a death certificate, making cemetery arrangements, applying cosmetics to a corpse and assisting at a funeral.

Apply to the Michigan Board of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs for initial licensing. Include all documentation of your education and residency training. Applications are available online or call to request the board mail one to you.

Take the national examination given by the American Board of Funeral Service Education. This electronic, multiple-choice exam checks your knowledge of mortuary science theory, practices, laws and ethics. You can obtain study guides from book stores and your mortuary science program to help you prepare.

Begin practicing as a funeral director when you receive your license. The board must receive your passing scores from the testing company before it can issue your license, which can take several weeks.


Eric Feigenbaum started his career in print journalism, becoming editor-in-chief of "The Daily" of the University of Washington during college and afterward working at two major newspapers. He later did many print and Web projects including re-brandings for major companies and catalog production.