Information on Being a Mortician

A successful mortician puts a family at ease while they make end of life decisions
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If you are looking for a career in which you can help others and also use your business skills, then you may want to consider the field of mortuary. Morticians, also known as undertakers or funeral directors, are a special blend of counselor, therapist and businessperson. They use these skills to help ease the pain of the bereaved while handling the technical aspects of a burial. Although at first glance this field may be considered morbid, morticians actually perform a necessary service that benefits people.

Job Description

    Morticians are responsible for helping families with the funeral arrangements for their loved ones. In many cases they act as funeral directors for the funeral home. In this capacity they are responsible for management of the staff, administrative duties and scheduling of funeral services. It is becoming more common for people to purchase prepaid burial plans. The mortician walks them through the paperwork and arrangements. The mortician also takes care of the legal aspects of death, such as filing a death certificate request to the state, notifying the IRS and completing the paperwork for Social Security. The mortician works closely with the deceased’s family to arrange burials or cremations in accordance with religious beliefs and final wishes.

Work Life

    Normal business hours do not exist for morticians. People pass away at all hours and the mortician must be available to assist the family and arrange to transfer the body. The mortician works almost exclusively at the funeral home although there may be trips to customer sites, hospitals, nursing homes, private homes and churches throughout the workday. Most morticians work in a fairly serene office environment. In smaller funeral homes, the mortician may be responsible for preparing the bodies for burial.

Becoming a Mortician

    Prospective morticians do not require a bachelor’s degree, but should have at least an associate’s degree. Community colleges and universities offer courses in mortuary science, which is the major for morticians. After graduation, interested applicants can intern in funeral homes working under established morticians to gain experience. This is a residency of sorts and lasts from one to three years. After completing their internship, future morticians sit for an exam that tests their knowledge of burial preparations and funeral services. If they pass, they receive a license to practice in their state. Attending continuing education classes over time is necessary to maintain a valid license.


    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, morticians earned a median annual wage of $54,140 in 2010; the highest paid morticians made $98,340. As the population ages, the need for morticians increases, giving this occupation an expected growth rate of 18 percent. The job prospects are even higher for those who perform embalming services. Those willing to relocate to areas with greater demand may also stand to gain more in terms of income and job availability.

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