How to Become an Embalmer & Restorative Artist

Do you feel better when things are fixed up and look nice? Do the words, “She looks like she’s just sleeping” sound like a compliment to you? You could have a wonderful career serving your community as an embalmer and restorative artist.

Job Overview

Embalmers and restorative artists prepare the deceased for the viewing, funeral and burial. Family members will appreciate what you’re able to do to make their loved one seem to be at peace. You will help prepare the deceased using embalming fluids, absorbent materials, sutures, provide reconstructive services on areas that have been traumatized or otherwise need work to take on a normal appearance and wash and dress the body per the family’s requests.

Requirements and Qualifications

In addition to meeting legal requirements, you’ll also need technical, communication, social and problem-solving skills. Though handling remains is not dangerous, there are legal requirements which must be met.

Typical Education

Embalmers or restorative artists have a minimum education in the form of a certification, an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree, typically in mortuary science. Many employers are beginning to require a bachelor’s degree prior to hiring, and this will certainly become a requirement for advancement in the field. The American Board of Funeral Service Education accredits many associate and bachelor programs.

Steps to Becoming an Embalmer

At some point before, after or while you are completing your educational program, you will also serve a one to three year apprenticeship with a licensed funeral director or mortician in order to gain work experience. Once the apprenticeship and your educational program is complete, provided that any other requirements by your state are met, you may take the licensing exam. Once you are licensed, you will need to complete a certain amount of continuing education on an annual basis to maintain your license.

Similar Jobs

Maybe this isn’t quite you. It could be you’re a little creeped out by this career path – it’s okay, a lot of people are. Here is a selection of similar positions you may find more to your liking.

  • Are you calm under pressure? Emergency medical technicians and paramedics provide emergency medical attention to patients and transport them to the hospital.
  • Just want to handle the basics of healing? Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses provide basic ongoing care for patients in a variety of settings.
  • Have an interest in keeping teeth healthy? Dental assistants work with dentists in setting up equipment, getting patients ready for treatment and keeping records.
  • Want to help heal people without all the extra education? Medical assistants provide clerical and very basic patient care including taking records and histories, recording vitals, administering medication and drawing blood.
  • Like flashing lights and sirens? Police patrol officers regulate traffic, control crowds and enforce laws.
  • Do you like finding what’s out of place? Police identification and records officers gather evidence including fingerprints, forensic evidence and take photographs of a crime scene.
  • Good with bereaved persons? Morticians, undertakers and funeral directors help families arrange funerals or memorial services and all arrangements for the deceased.


The average annual salary for an embalmer or restorative artist is $42,240, higher than the average of all careers of $33,840 during May 2010. A higher education typically equates to higher pay and a better position in this sector.

Job Outlook

The job outlook for embalmers and restorative artists is slightly slower than the average of all other career tracks between 2010 and 2020. It is expected that this is in part due to increased health and medical technology allowing people to live longer. However, with the baby boomer generation beginning to age, this career path will begin to see an upswing in opportunities.

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