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How to Become a Mortician

Morticians, also known as funeral directors, are professionals that work with the dead. They prepare bodies for burial or cremation, they help families with funeral arrangements and ceremonies and they also help families during the grieving process. Here's what to know when it comes to becoming a mortician.

What is a mortician?

A mortician is a professional of the funeral industry, involved in the planning, orchestrating, and logistical side of funerals. Morticians are generally responsible for dressing the body, placing the body in a casket, and enhancing the body's appearance in the event of a viewing or open-casket funeral.

What does a mortician do?

What do morticians do? A lot more than most people realize! A mortician's duties can vary depending on the location they're working for, but in general, a mortician's responsibilities includes:

  • Overseeing all aspects of the funeral process
  • Meeting with the family of the deceased to discuss their wishes and plan the funeral
  • Coordinating with other morticians, clergy, and other service providers
  • Preparing and dressing the body
  • Arranging for transportation of the body
  • Making burial or cremation arrangements
  • Maintaining mortuary records
  • Helping families during the grieving process

The job of a mortician can be emotionally demanding, but it can also be very rewarding. Those who are passionate about working with the dead and helping families through their grief will find becoming a mortician to pay in more than just salary.

How much does a mortician make?

How much do morticians make? The answer is: it varies! According to PayScale, the average mortician's salary is $50,050 per year. However, those with experience or who are working in a larger mortuary can expect to make closer to $68,000. This is a profession that offers good job security and steady employment prospects.

What's the difference between a mortician vs. an undertaker?

The terms are interchangeable and additionally synonymous with 'funeral director'. 'Undertaker' used to be the title of the profession but was changed to 'mortician' after the industry wanted to distance itself from the term 'undertaker' as they found it to have a negative connotation.

How do I become a mortician?

Becoming a mortician is a process that takes a few years. Here are the basic mortician requirements:

  • Be at least 21 years of age
  • Complete a mortuary science degree program or an accredited funeral service program
  • Pass the state's and/or the national board exam
  • Serve as an apprentice for around 1-3 years (this depends on your state's requirements)
  • Keep in mind that these requirements can change depending on your state, so you'll need to double-check that you're fulfilling all of your state's requirements.

How long is mortician school?

Most mortician science degree programs take around two years of full-time attendance to complete, but your program length may vary. Of course, becoming a mortician takes more than just completing a program, so you'll want to keep this in mind when planning out the length of time it'll take you to start an actual, paying position as a mortician.

Can I go to mortician school online?

While you can become a mortician by attending an online program, you won't be able to earn your entire mortician degree through an online program. There are generally certain classes that you'll be required to attend in person (such as labs). If you're considering attending an online mortician school, you should get in touch with the school first to see what kinds of classes they require in-person attendance for.

How long does it take to become a mortician?

It generally takes two years to complete an accredited funeral service program to become a mortician. In addition, you'll likely be required to complete around 1-3 years of apprenticeship in the field before becoming fully licensed as a mortician.

How to be a mortician

Ready to learn how to become a funeral director? Here are the steps you'll need to take to get there.

Step 1: Make sure you meet the age requirement

Morticians are required to be at least 21 years old in order to practice in the field. If you're not 21, you can get started by going to an accredited program or working at a funeral home in a different capacity until you meet the age requirement.

Step 2: Complete a mortuary science degree program

Many state licensing boards require morticians to have an associate's degree in the field. Associates degrees typically take around 2 years of full-time attendance to complete. When choosing a degree, try to look for an accredited program so that you can ensure you're receiving accurate and up to date instruction.

It's important to note that mortician school is not the same as medical school. Mortuary science degree programs are typically two years in length and can be completed at a variety of different schools, such as mortuary science colleges, universities, or online.

Step 3: Serve an apprenticeship

Morticians are required to complete an apprenticeship for one to three years, which can sometimes be done before, during, or after completing the mortuary degree (this depends on the state and its regulations). Some states will also require that you have an apprentice license in order to complete an apprenticeship.

Step 4: Complete the licensing exam

Going to school and learning how to be a mortician isn't enough to land you the job in most cases, you'll also be required to complete the licensing exam for licensure. Some states have different licenses for those who want to embalm vs. those who want to be funeral directors, so be sure you know which licensing requirements your state has.

Step 5: Maintain your license

Now that you've fulfilled all the requirements, you can finally become a mortician. But wait! If you plan to be in the field long-term, then you'll want to make sure you keep up with licensure requirements. This most often means attending continuing education (CE) classes and staying informed about current laws regarding funeral services and the industry itself.

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Last updated December 8, 2021
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