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How to Become an Obituary Writer

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An obituary not only details the highlights of a person's past life, but also serves as a historical document for family members and those interested in genealogy. To become an obituary writer, you need to have the basic skills of any reporter, and also understand how to write an obituary that defines the deceased and offers a positive and joyous perspective about his life.

Obtain a bachelor's degree in journalism or mass communication as a way to compete for jobs as a newspaper reporter — which includes obituary writing — according to information in the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' 2010-2011 Occupational Outlook Handbook.

Apply for and serve in an internship with a newspaper office or organization to gain valuable experience. Request to work with the obituary writer. Hone your skills regarding all types of multimedia. Perfect word processing, computer graphics and desktop-publishing skills.

Research obituary writing techniques and skills and prepare samples of obituary writing. Learn how to go beyond formulaic writing and present a creative, engaging writing style. Part of the application process requires you to demonstrate your skills in the area in which you seek employment. Look at obituaries posted in the most recognized and noted newspapers in the world to detect common trends and determine what type of writing stands out and what doesn't.

Write a cover letter that paints you as a knowledgeable and passionate candidate for the position of an obituary writer. If your letter doesn't catch the hiring editor's attention, he won't read your resume or consider you for an interview.


Speak to other obituary writers to find out insider information that may help you land a position.


Depending on the availability of positions, you could wait a long time to become an obituary writer. Don't get discouraged. Apply outside of your local area and make your goals known to your managing editor.


Based in Texas, Cynthia Measom has been writing various parenting, business and finance and education articles since 2011. Her articles have appeared on websites such as The Bump and Motley Fool. Measom received a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Texas at Austin.