First, are you sure you want to be a mortician? It is important to understand the challenges, investment of time and money, and emotional demands of a career in death care. Death work can be incredibly rewarding, but there are downsides that are almost never discussed. For example: the long hours, the low starting pay, the emotional burden, the disappearance of stable jobs in the industry, the toll on mental health, the evidence that mortuary workers present higher rates of PTSD symptoms compared with the general population, and the impact of being a last responder during a global pandemic. While we don’t want to crush your dreams, it’s important to know if this work is really, truly right for you. We want you feeling informed, confident, and to have robust support systems in place before beginning your death care journey.
To start, here’s an article penned by a mortician and funeral home owner called “I Can’t Encourage You to Become a Mortician.” Harsh title perhaps, but we hope this gets you started honestly answering these questions for yourself. Follow that up with A Magnum Opus On Whether Being A Funeral Director Is Right For You.
Atlanta based Funeral Director Joél Anthony also has a number of helpful resources including a mortuary school self study course, and a video with tips on selecting a Mortuary Science school program that’s right for you.
If after reading you’re still interested in the traditional funeral industry, it might be time to consider going to mortuary school. You can find accredited programs on the American Board Of Funeral Service Education website.
Requirements to become licensed as a mortician or funeral director or embalmer vary wildly from state to state, and from country to country. Montana will look different from Auckland, Toronto will look different from Brighton. When it comes down to it, your greatest ally to find a mortuary school in your area is good ol’ Google dot com.
Wondering what it’s like once you get into a Mortuary Science program? Here are a couple articles that provide insight from students, like this student who questions the gaps in their education and a look inside the oldest Mortuary Science program in NY.
You probably already anticipate learning a lot of science to get your mortuary science degree, but you should also expect to spend a lot of time learning business, management, accounting, and merchandising too.
Another consideration that sometimes gets left out of the conversation is that funeral directors can also act as cultural preservationists. When enacting death rituals specific to a community important ties to homeland, history, and beliefs are made, enriching and reinforcing a culture. Such rituals are often a necessity for achieving a good death. This vital legacy work can be seen in funeral homes like Fukui Mortuary, Aloha Mortuary, All People’s Funeral Home and countless others.