Funeral homes, bereaving families and cemeteries rely on gravediggers to prepare final resting places for the deceased. These laborers are known more as cemetery caretakers or groundskeeping workers because they also mow lawns, plant flowers and enhance the natural beauty of cemeteries. If you can envision yourself digging graves with backhoes, erecting canopies for funerals and placing headstones on graves, the job of gravedigger may be suitable for you. You can expect to earn an average salary of just over $25,000 annually.
Income and Qualifications
Gravediggers, as many laborers, usually get paid by the hour. They earned average wages of $12.44 per hour as of May 2012, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, or $25,870 per year. If you want to work as a gravedigger, you must be energetic and physically fit, and be flexible about working in all types of weather. The educational requirements are minimal as many of these workers have high school educations or less. Other essential requirements include compassion, self-motivation and a valid driver's license.
Average salaries can vary considerably among gravediggers. In 2012, the middle half earned $19,520 to $29,900 per year. If you were among the top 10 percent in earnings, you'd make over $37,770 annually. The lowest 10 percent made less than $17,330 per year. Your hourly wages may also vary if you work for government-owned cemeteries. If you worked for a cemetery that was owned by the federal government, such as Arlington National Cemetery, you'd make $46,370 annually. Those employed by cemeteries owned by local governments earned $30,250 per year.
Income by State or District
Gravediggers earned the highest annual incomes of $35,930 in the District of Columbia. They also earned relatively high incomes in Massachusetts, Alaska and Washington -- $32,880, $31,200 and $30,200 per year, respectively. If you worked as a gravedigger in Illinois, your earnings would be closer to the industry average, at $25,650 annually. You'd only earn $22,230 per year in South Carolina.
Jobs for grounds maintenance workers, including gravediggers, are projected to increase 20 percent in the next decade, which is faster than the 14 percent national average for all occupations. Additionally, the Administration on Aging expects the number of Americans over 65 to nearly double between 2009 to 2030 to 72.1 million. The increase in the senior population is likely to create more gravedigger jobs.
2016 Salary Information for Grounds Maintenance Workers
Grounds maintenance workers earned a median annual salary of $26,920 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, grounds maintenance workers earned a 25th percentile salary of $22,230, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $33,640, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 1,309,300 people were employed in the U.S. as grounds maintenance workers.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: What Grounds Maintenance Workers Do
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment Statistics: Landscaping and Groundskeeping Workers
- Federalgovernmentjobs.us: Cemetery Caretaker
- United States Department of Veteran Affairs: Day in the Life: Cemetery Caretaker
- Administration on Aging: Aging Statistics
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Grounds Maintenance Workers
- Career Trend: Grounds Maintenance Workers
- Tom Brakefield/Stockbyte/Getty Images