How to Become a Mortician

Do you have comforting words when a loved one has died? Are you able to help grieving families cope with loss? Being a mortician gives you the opportunity to help others make their final goodbyes.

Job Overview
Associates Degree
Find Related CareersSOURCE: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

From arranging transportation of remains, including out of the region, preparing the corpse, producing required paperwork and legal documentation, to meeting with family members in arranging funeral or memorial services and assisting individuals pre-planning their final preparations, a mortician’s career path can be a busy one. You will have responsibility for scheduling viewings, funerals and graveside services, coordinating deliveries, working with local publishers on obituaries and filing details of a death with the required statutory agencies of the death.

Requirements and Qualifications

Morticians usually work from funeral homes and crematories. You will assist individuals or families making decisions, either before or shortly after death. As this is a very distressing time to most people, it can be trying and stressful helping them make decisions and preparations for a memorial service a matter of days after death. There are also times when you may have to coordinate several services in one day, being careful to not confuse them. In addition to working a full time schedule, morticians are often on call 24-7 and can have long hours occasionally. You should explore expanding such qualities as compassion, interpersonal skills and time management skills, as well as empathy and some grief counseling skills. Although handling the deceased is a part of the job, by following health and safety laws the health risks are negligible.

Typical Education

There are 57 mortuary science curriculums accredited by the American Board of Funeral Service Education (ABFSE). Nine of these are bachelor’s programs with the remaining majority being in associate’s degree programs. There are many companies that are beginning to require new morticians to have a bachelor’s degree. Classes will include a variety of subjects including ethics, grief psychology, memorial services, embalming, business law and techniques to restore the appearance of the deceased.

Steps to Become a Mortician

Prior to becoming licensed, and in addition to your educational requirements, a 12 to 36 month apprenticeship supervised by a licensed funeral director is required. Having completed these objectives and having reached a minimum of 21 years old, sitting for the licensing exam for your state is the last hurdle before seeking employment as a mortician. To work in more than one state, you’ll need to meet each state’s requirements. Continuing education is required in most states to maintain your license.

Similar Jobs

If the prospect of death makes you uncomfortable, that’s all right – many people are affected that way. Some similar positions you may want to explore include:

  • Do you have a healing touch? Physicians and surgeons examine, diagnose and give treatment to patients for illnesses and injuries.
  • Do your words bring comfort? Psychologists help people with emotional difficulties work through their problems.
  • Are you good with creative problem-solving? Social workers help people solve issues in their daily lives that they’re not able to cope with alone.


A mortician’s average yearly salary was $54,140 in May 2010, significantly higher than the average annual pay for all careers. Working full time, morticians are also expected to remain on call and available to work nights and weekends if needed with long hours being common.

Job Outlook

Morticians are predicted to see opportunity growth of around 18% over the next decade, in the same range as the average for all careers at 14% for the same time period. A combination of more people pre-arranging their final disposition in order to relieve pressure on loved ones following a death and an aging baby boomer generation is slated to create increased prospects.

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