how to become a funeral service worker

What does a Funeral Service Worker do?

A funeral service worker manages and organizes the details of a funeral. They work with the families to determine the dates, location, and times of visitations, memorial services, cremations, or funerals. Funeral service workers tend to all the administrative aspects of a person’s death, such as submitting proper papers to state officials to receive a death certificate.

Watch a video to learn what a funeral service worker does.

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How to Become a Funeral Service Worker

how to become a funeral service worker

Funeral service workers typically earn an associate’s degree in mortuary science or funeral service. Some employers prefer candidates to hold a bachelor’s degree, but this is not necessary for all positions. Coursework usually includes grief counseling, business law, ethics, restorative techniques, and embalming.

In addition to schooling, funeral service workers have to pass a state licensing exam after graduation. Each state has it’s own licensing requirements. However, most licensing laws and examinations require the following criteria:

To be able to complete cremations, you must get a specialized certificate. You can do this through the Cremation Association of North America (CANA), International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association (ICCFA), or the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA). For specific eligibility requirements, we recommend that you contact your state board or one of the above organizations.

Job Description of a Funeral Service Worker

A funeral service worker offers condolences and counsels deceased’s families and friends in arranging funeral services. They prepare the remains of the deceased, in addition to determining the location, dates, visitations, memorial service, burial, or cremation. Funeral service workers also assist with decisions on whether one is cremated, entombed, or buried according to their religion and culture.

Funeral service workers also complete administrative documents as needed about the individuals’ death. Often these documents pertain to insurance claims; therefore, they may need to work with the Social Security Administration, Health Department, or the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Knowledge of their community can be helpful as well; because a funeral service worker may provide community information or resources to grieving families as they arrange the funeral. Not only do funeral service workers plan and help families who lost loved ones, but they also work with clients who wish to plan their funerals before their own passing to take the burden off their families.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 60% of funeral service workers are self-employed and work in private funeral homes. This career field can be emotionally draining and stressful. Funeral service workers often have tight deadlines and must plan funerals in 1-3 days after a death occurs. Not only are you planning that one, you may be coordinating other funerals or burials at the same time. Due to the nature of the work you irregular hours and a variety of days.

Funeral Service Worker Career Video Transcript

If you want to become a funeral service worker, the key to success is by obtaining an associate’s degree in mortuary science. Additionally, funeral service workers are expected to do an apprenticeship of 1-3 years under the guidance of a licensed funeral service professional.

As a funeral service worker, you may need to coordinate funeral services within 24 to 72 hours of death. For many funeral service workers, this means working long, unpredictable hours in the evening and on weekends. For funeral service employees, the work is never truly done.

Article Citations

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Funeral Service Workers.

The career video is in the public domain from the U. S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.