Morticians get a scary reputation through unrealistic Hollywood horror films, but in real life, they are typically caring people with a heart to serve. Becoming a mortician requires at least an associate degree in mortuary science in most states, along with continuing education and certification requirements. Job opportunities abound for those who meet the requirements.
Morticians are often known as funeral directors. This title implies that a mortician's main duty is dealing with the family of the deceased while family members plan the funeral. Orchestrating funerals is only part of a mortician's job. Morticians embalm bodies, dress them and apply makeup, and handle the cremation process if that is preferred.
Morticians need education to get started in their careers and to maintain their state certifications. This opens teaching as a viable career option for a mortician. Options for those interested in teaching mortuary science include working at technical schools, colleges and universities, and specialty trade schools.
A traditional sales technique is to understand your customer's needs. One way to do this is to have the same education and training as the customer. Morticians are often responsible for making purchasing decisions on caskets, cremation urns and embalming supplies. Former morticians make excellent funeral supply salespeople, since they understand the challenges practicing morticians face every day and how the funeral budgeting process works.
If being on call nights and weekends as a mortician isn't enough of a challenge, you can run for your local coroner position in towns that have an elected position. Technically a law enforcement job, a coroner helps establish the identity of someone in the county who dies as well as the cause and manner of death. Most states require newly elected coroners to take a certification course and some basic education is expected. Morticians' knowledge of the human body, dealing with grieving family members and a lack of squeamishness make morticians common candidates for coroner positions. A coroner doesn't usually perform autopsies, as these are completed by forensic pathologists or medical examiners who typically are doctors.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: What Funeral Directors Do
- American Board of Funeral Service Education: Frequently Asked Questions
- Twin Falls Times-News: Morticians Talk About What’s Tough and Why It’s Almost a Calling
- Indiana.gov: Coroners Training Board
- South Carolina General Assembly: A205, R214, S1014 (Coroner Qualifications)
- Funeral Ethics: Conflicts of Interest in U.S. Coroner Systems
- Delta College: Mortician/Funeral Director
Based outside Atlanta, Ga., Shala Munroe has been writing and copy editing since 1995. Beginning her career at newspapers such as the "Marietta Daily Journal" and the "Atlanta Business Chronicle," she most recently worked in communications and management for several nonprofit organizations before purchasing a flower shop in 2006. She earned a BA in communications from Jacksonville State University.