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How to become a Mortician

Majors Overview December 21, 2012

Pre-requisites of a Mortician

A mortician, or a funeral director as they are commonly known, helps the family of a deceased person plan a funeral. They plan and manage many details in order to achieve their objective. In fulfilling the responsibilities that go with their job, a mortician has to move the corpse to a mortuary, prepare it for a ceremony, perform spiritual rituals as required by the client’s family and arrange final disposal of the body.

Licensure norms usually require morticians to hold an associate degree or college credits of an equivalent number. A prospective funeral director will need to satisfy an apprenticeship or internship pre-requisite. Though many states frequently require morticians to earn an associate degree, some call for a bachelor degree. Funeral service training must be included in the coursework of specialization. Licensure is essential in every state; prospective morticians are required to complete a national or state board licensing examination. Licensure calls for one to three years of internship or apprenticeship apart from some key skills, such as knowledge of ethics and legal requirements relating to funeral preparation and service; the potential mortician must demonstrate good interpersonal communication skills apart from compassion and sensitivity. Morticians seeking licenses must be twenty-one years of age or older (sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and American Board of Funeral Service Education (ABFSE)).

The following is a step-by-step guide to becoming a funeral director:

Stage One: Completion of Educational Prerequisites

To satisfy licensure norms of state licensing boards, morticians are required to have a minimum educational qualification of a high school diploma followed by one to two years of college education that includes mortuary-college. In some states, coursework must include computer science and gerontology among other specific subjects.

The ABFSE accredits mortuary science courses. Some states require license seeking funeral directors to complete accredited courses. Mortuary law, federal regulations, restorative art, chemistry, funeral service counseling and psychology, embalming, pathology, chemistry, microbiology, anatomy and ethics are usually the topics included in coursework. Business courses are highly recommended especially for morticians who want to run their own business at a later stage. As communication skills are tremendously crucial to a mortician’s job where they have to interact effectively with the relatives of the dead person, a course to improve their conversational skills will certainly help enhance their career prospects as a funeral director.

Stage Two: Completion of an Apprenticeship or Internship

Participation in an internship or apprenticeship for one to three years is part of the ABFSE requirements; prospective morticians can complete such requirement after completion of their formal education, in keeping with the laws of a particular state. Apprentices are required in certain states to possess an apprenticeship license. They are permitted to do mortuary service provided such services are performed under the watchful eye of a professional with previous experience.

Stage Three: Passing a Licensing Examination

Passing a national licensing examination is a must for morticians, and in some cases, they may even need to take a state licensing exam. The national exam covers subjects such as embalming, anatomy, restorative arts, pathology, microbiology, funeral service history, funeral service merchandizing, business law, and psychology. Whether or not a mortician wants to become an embalmer, they need to have sufficient knowledge about the process.

Stage Three: Continuation of Education

In several states, morticians who seek to maintain licensure are required to embrace continuing education. With continuing education, morticians will be able to stay abreast of legal requirements of funeral services; they will be able to keep up to date on their knowledge of current trends and advancements in the mortuary industry.

They can utilize online and distance-learning options in continuing education; examples of distance learning choices are online coursework, teleconferences and webinars. Seminars, workshops and professional development courses can be listed among on-site continuing education options available. Students can earn optional designations voluntarily to enhance their career prospects as a funeral director; the Academy of Professional Funeral Service Practice offers one such course, titled, the Certified Funeral Service Practitioner (CFSP).

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