Funeral directors are usually employed by a funeral home or are in business themselves. There are approximately 29,600 morticians, undertakers, and funeral directors in the United States. About 4,200 embalmers are employed in the United States. Funeral attendants hold another 36,100 jobs. The majority of embalmers, mortuary science technicians, and funeral attendants are employed by funeral homes, though a small number work for hospitals and medical schools. Employers for these professions are located worldwide.
After attending an accredited school of mortuary science for two to four years, beginning workers who plan to become funeral directors or embalmers start out as mortuary science technicians. Those who are interested in working in the industry, but not becoming funeral directors or embalmers, can break into the field by working as funeral attendants.
Most mortuary science schools provide placement assistance for graduates. Additionally, since many schools require internship programs, students are often able to obtain permanent jobs where they have trained.
For many years, most funeral homes were family businesses. Younger members of the family or their husbands or wives were expected to move up into managerial positions when the older members retired. This is changing, however, as the majority of people entering the field today have no prior background or family connection. Therefore, the potential for advancement into managerial positions is considerably greater than in the past.
The natural progression in the field is from mortuary science technician to fully licensed embalmer, funeral director, or both. With licensing comes more opportunity for advancement. While many people who enter this field aspire to eventually own their own funeral homes, there are other possibilities as well. One advanced specialty, for example, is that of trade embalmers, who embalm under contract for funeral homes. Their work typically includes restorative treatment. Also, an increasing number specialize in selling funeral and burial arrangements in advance. Providing the option to make plans ahead of time can give clients peace of mind. Finally, with sufficient financial backing, funeral service practitioners may establish their own businesses or purchase a portion or all of an existing one.
The percentage of mortuary science graduates who pursue advancement outside the funeral home is small. However, opportunities do exist. Funeral supply manufacturers employ licensed funeral service personnel because of their familiarity with the products and their ability to handle technical problems. Workers may be employed in customer relations or product sales.
Read The Director (http://www.nfda.org/news/nfda-publications) to learn more about the funeral services industry.
Visit http://funeralcareers.nfda.org and https://iccfa.com/classifieds for job listings.
Join the National Funeral Directors Association, Cremation Association of North America, and the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association to access continuing education and networking opportunities, publications, and other resources.