A cremator is not just the person who handles, processes and incinerates the remains of a human body or animal. Cremators must also be skilled at working with people during periods of heightened emotion.
Cremators operate equipment that incinerates a human body or the remains of an animal, reducing it to ash and bone fragments. Cremators then process and treat the ash and bone fragments until they resemble powder. As the number of people who want to be cremated, or who want to cremate a dead family member, increase, so will the need for certified and registered cremators and cremation arrangers.
Cremation Operators and Arrangers
There are two primary types of cremator jobs. Cremation operators use a crematory unit and mechanical processor to reduce human remains. A cremation arranger may be the person who processes remains, but is most responsible for arranging a viewing or service. The International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association and The Cremation Association of North America offer certification programs for becoming a cremator.
Cremators who also work as funeral directors must earn an associate degree in mortuary science, though employers often require funeral directors to have a bachelor’s degree. The American Board of Funeral Service Education has credentialed 57 mortuary science programs. Each program offers an associate degree in mortuary science and nine offer bachelor’s degrees in mortuary science. States require funeral directors to be licensed. Laws regulating licensure are state-specific and often require you to work under a licensed funeral director for anywhere from one to three years. You must also be 21. If you want to work as a cremator only, then you need to become certified to do so before a state will let you work.
Cremator Operator Certification
The cremation operator certification program that ICCFA and CANA offer covers industry-specific terminology, principles of combustion, air-quality and environmental issues, exposure control, forms and recordkeeping and incinerator design. You will also learn how to operate and repair cremation equipment, handle bodies and package cremated remains. Depending on the state where you live, you may also need to attend a state-sponsored class on crematory regulations. Both certification programs last for eight hours.
Cremation Arranger Certification
The certification program to become a cremation arranger expects that you already know the basics of working as a cremator. The certification program teaches you how to design and oversee memorials and tributes and how to work with your clients. You’ll learn about cremation consumers, how to discuss options with your client families, liability, how to train the people you work with and the Cremation Code of Ethics. The ICCFA’s creation arranger certification program lasts for six hours, is the only program of its kind and counts toward any continuing education credits the state where you work requires you to take to remain registered and continue working as a cremator.
College of Cremation Services
ICCFA also offers an intensive six-day diploma program in cremation services. This diploma program will teach you how to work as a cremator and as a cremation arranger. Industry professionals lead classes on topics including administration, counseling and crematory operation. You will also take a tour of a crematory.
- International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association: Cremation Operator Certification
- West Virginia Board of Funeral Service Examiners: Cremation Operator Qualifications and Requirements
- International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association: College of Cremation Services
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: How To Become a Funeral Director
William Henderson has been writing for newspapers, magazines and journals for more than 15 years. He served as editor of the "New England Blade" and is a former contributor to "The Advocate." His work has also appeared on The Good Men Project, Life By Me and The Huffington Post.