How Do I Become a Funeral Services Director?

Despite funerals being a sad event, many people still aspire to work in funeral homes and ask, “How do I become a funeral services director?” A funeral services director must be highly educated and trained in areas like cremation, embalming, grief counseling and funeral services, among other things. Because they’re assisting people who are going through the worst thing in their lives, funeral services directors must also be kind and compassionate individuals. Learn what it takes to become a funeral services director and what this career entails.

What a Funeral Services Director Does

Funeral service workers are the professionals who coordinate and manage a funeral. They consult with family members to determine the dates, location and times of memorial services, funerals, visitations, cremations and burials. They also prepare the deceased’s body for the funeral and help the family members decide if the body should be entombed, cremated or buried.

They also handle the administrative details pertaining to the person’s death, such as submitting paperwork for the death certificate, applying for funeral benefits, helping deal with insurance companies and notifying government agencies of the person’s death. Other duties of a funeral services director include:

  • Offering comfort and counseling to family members
  • Taking care of removing the deceased’s body
  • Offering information on funeral service options
  • Filing death certificates with appropriate authorities
  • Notifying local newspaper about the death and funeral
  • Offering information on support groups

How to Become a Funeral Services Director

To become a funeral services director, an individual must have at least an associate degree and complete an accredited mortuary science or funeral service program. Although an associate degree is the minimal requirement, some employers may require the candidate have a bachelor’s degree. Currently, Minnesota and Ohio require funeral services directors (morticians) have a bachelor’s degree. There are 60 funeral service and mortuary science programs accredited by the American Board of Funeral Service Education.

Students in the program take courses in embalming and restorative techniques, grief counseling, funeral service, ethics and business law. Funeral services directors should also have good interpersonal and communication skills. Aspiring funeral services directors must also complete an apprenticeship or internship under the supervision of a licensed funeral director. This can take from 1 to 3 years.

Certification/Licensure

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that all the states other than Colorado require funeral services directors be licensed. Colorado doesn’t require licensure, but they do offer a voluntary certification program. Licensing laws vary from state to state, but most require the following requirements be met in order for the individual to obtain licensure.

  • Must be at least 21 years old
  • Must have completed an accredited funeral service program
  • Must pass a state or national board examination
  • Must have completed an internship

A funeral services director may work in more than one state but must be licensed in each state that he or she works. They must also complete continuing education to maintain licensure. Candidates wishing to obtain crematory certification can do so through these agencies.

  • National Funeral Directors Association
  • International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association
  • Cremation Association of North America

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Although the idea of helping people get through this very difficult period in their lives can be very difficult, it can also be rewarding to know that they’re helping others in their time of need. Most people who’ve decided to become funeral services directors have stated that it was the best decision they’ve ever made.