What Degree Do You Need To Be A Mortician

By David Krug David Krug is the CEO & President of Bankovia. He's a lifelong expat who has lived in the Philippines, Mexico, Thailand, and Colombia. When he's not reading about cryptocurrencies, he's researching the latest personal finance software. 3 minute read


According to US Representative Steve Southerland, who has served in Congress since 2011, “you’ll have to look pretty hard” to find a career that offers more opportunities than working in the funeral industry if you love helping people and bringing them comfort and peace during a difficult time.

Many people may look down on or avoid this line of work as being too macabre. Perhaps. In 2012, the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) predicted that the combined business of funeral homes and crematories would reach $16.2 billion in 2014. The revenue has increased by 5.2% in the two years from 2011 to 2013, despite a slight decline in the number of funeral homes. In 2008, there were 20,915 homes, and in 2013, there were 19,486.

According to Mr. Southerland, this is a call to compassion. In addition to making a living, the funeral director must enjoy being able to offer comfort to those who are grieving. In this role, the funeral director assists families in making funeral arrangements by meeting with them, planning church or memorial services, planning wakes, publishing obituary notices in newspapers, and dealing with the plethora of paperwork required by local and state authorities. A mortician may also be responsible for embalming and preparing the body for burial.


It is a science because there are degree programs in mortuary science at the associate and bachelor’s levels. Basic knowledge of the human body and posthumous care are taught at the associate’s level. The following are examples of common curricula:

  • Anatomy of a human
  • This is the theory of embalming.
  • Being in charge of a morgue
  • In today’s funeral homes, the practice of cremation is commonplace
  • Publicity for a funeral home

Mortuary science bachelor’s degree programs include courses in:

  • Terminology utilized in a hospital setting
  • The fundamentals of anatomy
  • Sociology of Funeral Directing
  • Embalming tenets and practices
  • Counseling at a funeral
  • Arts for Reparation

The American Board of Funeral Service Foundation (ABFSF) must accredit both the two-year Associate’s degree and the four-year Bachelor’s degree (ABFSE). Only this organization serves as the national accrediting body for programs in funeral service and mortuary science education at colleges and universities.

Mortuary Science students can also earn an Associate of Applied Science in Mortuary Science through a distance-learning program. Online courses are exactly the same as those offered on-campus. These are some of the most popular online courses:

  • Anatomy
  • Funeral Home Administration
  • Embalming
  • Ethics and the Law
  • Art for Healing


When the BLS released its annual report in May 2013, it showed that the average American household earned $51,720 per year. States like Texas, New York, California, Florida, and Ohio have the highest rates of employment. West Virginia, Mississippi, Kentucky, South Dakota, and Kansas are the states with the most morticians.

Pre-mortuary school or post-mortuary school apprenticeships are both acceptable in most states. To find out if you need a license to work in a particular state, you should contact that state directly. Local funeral homes may also be able to provide you with this information.


Courses in funeral directing are available through the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA).

  • Certification as a Certified Crematory Operator (COO) teaches crematory operators how to perform due diligence and provide the best cremation service to families. As cremation lawsuits increase, the NFDA recommends this course.
  • In order to enhance a funeral director’s reputation as a Certified Pre-Planning Consultant (CPC), you must have met a national standard of excellence in this field.

Those working in the funeral industry can join the NFDA, which is open to everyone. Membership comes with a price tag and a slew of perks.

Bottom Line

Privately owned funeral homes account for 86% of all establishments, according to the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA). Publicly traded companies hold the remaining 84% of the stock. Three full-time and four part-time employees are employed by the average funeral home.

Visit a funeral home in a major city if you’re thinking about going into this line of work. The director is here to meet you. Keep an open mind when it comes to the overall industry. This will help you make the right career choice by providing you with more information.

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