Are you a pillar of strength when there’s been a death? Can you help grieving families make difficult decisions? A career as a funeral services manager could be your chance to serve your community during difficult times.
Funeral services managers arrange transportation for remains (sometimes to different locations), prepare the corpse to the family’s requests, prepare necessary paperwork and legal documents, consult with the family to make funeral arrangements, train subordinate staff and help individuals pre-plan their own arrangements. You’ll arrange the details and logistics of visitations, memorial services and burial. Receiving floral deliveries, publishing obituaries and notifying government agencies of the death may also fall within your duties.
Requirements and Qualifications
Typically working at funeral homes and crematories, funeral services managers help people make arrangements, either prior to or at the time of death. You will often need to help people going through a very emotional and difficult time to make arrangements for a funeral within one to three days after death. You may need to arrange for several funerals on the same day. Working full time and being on call nights and weekends can create long hours at times. Vital qualities to develop as a funeral services manager include compassion, interpersonal skills and time management skills. Though you will need to handle corpses, health risks are minimal, though you will need to follow health and safety laws.
Funeral service managers need to have a minimum of an associate’s degree in mortuary science, with an increasing number of employers requiring a bachelor’s degree. The American Board of Funeral Service Education (ABFSE) accredits 57 mortuary science programs, of which nine are bachelor’s programs. Your coursework will include grief counseling, funeral services, ethics and business law, with all ABFSE programs including embalming and restorative arts courses.
Steps to Become a Funeral Services Manager
Either before or after finishing your degree program, you are required to complete a one- to three-year apprentice training of hands-on experience working under a licensed funeral director. Once you have completed your educational program and your apprenticeship and are at least 21 years of age, you can sit for your state’s licensing exam. if you want to work in multiple states, you’ll need to meet their licensing and exam requirements as well. If you have learned embalming or are willing to relocate, you will have better prospects in this sector. Most states require continuing education hours to keep your license current.
Some people don’t deal well with death, and if this isn’t the position for you, that’s okay. Here are some similar positions that you may find more to your liking:
- Have a knack for healing? Physicians and surgeons see patients, diagnose and provide treatment for illnesses and injuries.
- Do you say all the right things? Psychologists help people with mental problems by studying and interpreting how they relate with the world.
- Want to help people solve their problems? Social workers help people cope with and solve their problems in daily life or in mental or behavioral problems.
The average annual pay for funeral services managers was $54,140 in May 2010, close to double the average annual pay for all careers. Funeral services managers typically work full time and are often on call to work nights and weekends with long hours being common.
Opportunities for funeral services managers are expected to grow by about 18% over the next ten years, about the same as the average for all careers at 14%. It’s expected that the aging baby boomer generation combined with more people pre-planning their funeral arrangements to relieve stress on family members during a difficult time will create increased opportunities in this field.