A mortician also called a funeral director, is someone who takes all the necessary measures to arrange funeral services. This career path is not suitable for everyone, but it could bring a lot of reward and satisfaction to those who dare to step on it. In case you decided on mastering this profession, you are going to provide a full range of services surrounding the funeral and burial. It includes communication with families of a deceased person in order to agree on the details such as type of the ceremony, set of options, religious matters and other preferences. One more variation of this is when a person discusses with a mortician his or her own funeral ceremony.
Apart from that, what you are going to do is to take care of the transport of a body, place it in the funeral home and prepare it for ceremonies. You will be contacting other related organizations such as the cemetery and hospital to make sure that all the links in the chain are properly connected.
If you are thinking about how to become a mortician, bear in mind that this specialization requires lots of moral strength and patience. People turn to funeral homes while they are experiencing the darkest times and they need to be heard and consoled. So, great communication skills, tact, cool-headedness, and empathy are your best friends. If you are willing to open your own funeral home one day, you will need to understand what business, leadership, and time-management is.
The last important detail: when it comes to arranging the funeral every minute counts. Often the necessary preparations must be made within the period from 24 to 72 hours after the death. Besides, several burials may occur on the same day. Be ready for irregular working hours under the circumstances of high-pressure level.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Mortician
The sequence of steps you should take to become a mortician depends on the rules of the state you live in. National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) is the largest, respectable, and most famous community to support the specialists of this sphere. Its website provides information on courses and requirements to obtain a license for each state.
There are two major ways to get into the profession: train on the job without getting a college education or go through a mortuary school.
The Path You Can Take After the High School
Some states do not ask for a degree that allows you to become a funeral director. If it is true for your state, you have a chance to start the career right after high school. The good news is you are able to side with a job as soon as possible. The bad news is funeral homes employ people without any experience very reluctantly. That’s why you’ll have to use all powers of your insistence. Steps on this way are:
- Getting a high school diploma or equivalent. First of all, complete the high school education. If you have no diploma of this level for some reason, you can take a general educational development examination or GED. This examination proves that you have acquired knowledge enough for the high school level.
- Practicing during the work. Now when you have the educational certificate, you are free to search for a funeral home to practice. Stay on the one that will provide you with on-the-job training under the supervision of an experienced funeral director. Since you have no practical experience yet, make enthusiastic and willing to learn your trump card. Perhaps, you’ll have to start from a job that implies not exactly a mortician’s obligations to promote to the desired position later.
Going to Mortuary School
In the majority of states, a minimum of an associate’s degree in mortuary science is demanded a future funeral director to be able to obtain a license later. Mortuary science programs are possible to get at many local colleges, but the most reliable way to acquire a specialized education is to enroll at a mortuary school. At the moment, there are 57 mortuary schools approved by the American Board of Funeral Service Education (ABFSE). The majority of them give an associate’s degree, and as many as 9 schools give a bachelor’s degree. Speaking about how long does it take to become a certified mortician, the average duration of the educational program amounts to two years for an associate and four years for a bachelor.
The program in the mortuary school can be of different types. If it is on-campus, there is an opportunity to communicate with teachers and peers directly. You have access to all the college’s facilities, materials, and laboratories. It helps to perform all tasks and clinical requirements in a setting equipped for this purpose. In case you are too busy, already have a job or other responsibilities, distance programs would be an optimal decision. There you complete the tasks online, save journey time, and set a flexible timetable according to your needs. However, the practical part of coursework must be carried out by personal attendance anyway. The mixed form combines the features of on-campus and distance education modes. It is suitable for those who search for both adjustable hours of studying and direct interaction with colleagues.
The crucial aspects of a typical mortuary science program are the anatomy of the human body and preparing the body for viewing. The complex of actions taken before a viewing can include bathing and dressing the body, or in certain cases even reconstruction of facial features that have been damaged after illness or injury and repairing bodies after the consequences of post-mortem. Besides, it is necessary to learn about embalming or the temporary preservation and sterilization of the body after death. Such subjects as the history of embalming, chemistry related to embalming, and performing the procedure of embalming are often included in the curriculum.
Moreover, students of mortuary schools gain knowledge about the process of planning a funeral ceremony for different types of clients. Funeral arrangements for a certain religion and religious denomination may consist of a strict set of rules their adherents are expected to follow. Future funeral directors should be aware of the possible variations of services their clients may need. Specific requirements also exist for funerals of people from various cultures and cultural groups or military funerals.
Who knows, maybe in the future you’ll decide to establish a funeral home or mortuary yourself. In this scenario, you will have to face the business side of a mortician’s work. Some educational programs take it into account and involve courses in business law, funeral service law, risk management, human resources management, merchandising, marketing and ethics.
And of course, knowledge of psychology is the core of working with people in grief. You can learn subjects as the psychology of death, death and children, gerontology, and psychology of counseling. There you will get the tools of understanding the emotional state of a client.
To finally obtain a license as a mortician you commonly must complete an apprenticeship first. As soon as you are ready turn to a certified funeral director who agrees to give you the possibility to become an apprentice. Requirements here vary from state to state. In some places, both you and your mentor have to contact the State Board of Morticians and Funeral Directors to sign a protocol where the terms of apprenticeship are stated and then get a mortician’s apprentice license. Somewhere your assistance in funerals and embalming is a must to complete this level and thus you are going to file a special documents after every accomplished mission.
License or Certification
Usually, license and certification are not mandatory steps in the process of how to become a mortician. Nevertheless, possessing it opens a wider range of opportunities and serves as a support of a stable career. National Funeral Directors Association gives access to a number of certifications, for example, Certified Crematory Operator or Certified Preplanning Consultant.
If the license of a mortician is still mandatory in your state, the program in mortuary science you took while getting the degree must be approved by the American Board of Funeral Service Education. Conditions of receiving the license also depend on the state.
A resume is the first impression by which you will be judged. So pay attention to the details of its composition. It should give a clear impression of you, contain got across ideas and, what is most important, corresponds to the facts. If you cannot rely on yourself, resort to paid service of a professional resume construction or search for sites with ready resume patterns.
When you describe the gained experience, skills, and knowledge, use keywords that are typical for the funeral service industry. It will make it easier for both you and your employer to identify each other. Try to avoid common phrases that are repeating in most of the vacancies. Stick to the personal approach that will demonstrate your sincere interest.
For this purpose, you may search for information about a company in advance to be familiar with it. Customizing each reply is certainly more time-consuming, but sufficiently increases your chances to get the desired job.
How Can I Find the First Job?
In fact, you have a chance to find the job not only on the most popular websites posting the vacancies, like Monster.com or Indeed.com. There are also separate morticians’ communities such as FuneralNet.com, where you can find the news about jobs or internships. The NFDA has its own platform for searching and posting vacancies in the industry. You can upload your resume right on the job board to be visible to a potential employer. Or maybe you will be lucky enough to find a position using the resources of your school.
And finally, when all the previous stages are over, you are invited to the interview. You are actually on the threshold of getting the job you want. However, a successful interview makes you a step closer to the position you pretend on, and at the same time, several mistakes can spoil everything. That’s why it is so essential to be completely prepared. What can truly help you is training in answering some questions common for an interview for a mortician’s position. Here are some questions you can face during an interview.
- What is most important for you in a new job?
- What difficulties and challenges have you faced in this career?
- How do you communicate with difficult clients?
- What features do you have that make you suitable for this position?
- What stressful situation have you undergone?
- Which of the assignments you completed was the hardest for you?
- How do you maintain concentration during the work with multiple tasks?
Remember that this is only a sample and real-time questions can vary depending on the situation. Don’t give up anyway: if you are not sure of an answer, being open and sincere can save the situation. Try to answer straightly and without too much waste of time. Apart from answering the questions prepared for you ask one or two of those prepared by you. Not only a company evaluates a person, but also a person evaluates a company.
But questions and answers are not the only part of the interview. Here your aim is to present yourself as effectively as you can. Stay confident, watch your posture and make proper eye contact. As the interview comes to an end, express a hope to meet again, but try not to seem too pushy. Don’t forget to bring the necessary package of documents that sometimes can be more eloquent than words. And of course, get enough sleep before the interview; it will help you to stay concentrated.
Last, but not least: do not get too upset even if you failed to get the position. Keep in mind that it is not your last chance to find a job. Don’t give way to panic and always keep your options open.
How Much is the Salary of a Mortician?
Statistics show that the average salary for a mortician in the US is $58,360 per year. If we divide the average salary by the states, the picture in several of them will be the following:
- Connecticut – $134,740
- Massachusetts – $91,140
- California – $54,300
- Colorado – $49,330
- Florida – $56,200
- Kentucky – $50,750
Now you have an impression of how to become a mortician, forewarned is forearmed. You know what variations of a career path exist, where to look for additional information and professional communities, what approximate salaries are, and what you are going to learn. If you are still not afraid and feel the strength to help people through the times of grief, perhaps you are the right person to get into this career and lead it successfully.