From choosing floral arrangements to preparing the deceased for burial or cremation, morticians -- also known as funeral directors -- assist families in making arrangements for their loved ones' funeral services. They work closely with families and often serve as a helping hand and a shoulder to cry on during a very difficult time in people's lives. If you are interested in becoming a mortician, you have a few options available to you.
Most morticians work in funeral homes, so chances are, you'll end up working in one too. Typically, funeral homes have an area designated for merchandise sales, an office area for making funeral arrangements, a laboratory where embalming is conducted and a formal area where funerals are held. Funeral homes may be small, family-owned business or large, corporate entities. As a mortician working in a funeral home, you'll be in charge of arranging all of the details for a funeral service. You might participate in embalming, dressing and preparing the deceased for viewing. To ease the burdens resting on families' shoulders, you'll make the arrangements for death certificates, contact clergy members and notify the Social Security Administration on behalf of the family. People may wander into your funeral home seeking to make arrangements for themselves, and you'll guide them through the pre-planning process.
Not everyone wants to be buried when they pass away, so crematories exist for those who wish to be cremated. Crematories may exist as freestanding businesses or may be part of a funeral home. Crematories are similar to funeral homes, though they do not always have an area where funerals are held. They might offer many of the same services, such as grief counseling, pre-planning and merchandise sales, and there is a separate area within the crematory where cremation is performed. Alternatively, crematories may only offer cremation services and families may need to work with a funeral home to make the rest of their arrangements.
Funeral homes and crematories are well-kept and clean to appeal to customers and to ensure that safety and sanitation laws are followed. As a mortician, your work environment will be professional-minded regardless of where you work. You'll have to dress professionally every day in formal slacks, blouses, dresses or skirts. Makeup and hair are required to be conservative, and visible tattoos and facial piercings are seldom allowed.
If you're expecting a nine-to-five schedule, the funeral service industry is probably the last place you'll find one. Regardless of where you work, you can expect to work long, often irregular hours as a mortician. The smaller the home you work for, the more irregular your hours might be. Usually, funeral directors rotate being on-call, and when you're on-call, you'll be required to go in to work whenever someone passes away. It will be your job to transport them from their places of passing to the funeral home and to meet with the family. Afterwards, you'll begin making the arrangements for their services. You'll work plenty of nights, weekends and holidays as a mortician.