How to Become a Mortician: A Step-by-Step Guide

The death care industry plays a crucial role in providing end-of-life services to grieving families and loved ones. Morticians, also known as funeral directors, are at the forefront of this industry, helping to plan and execute funerals, burials, and cremations with dignity and respect. Pursuing a career in mortuary services can be rewarding, but it requires a unique set of skills and qualifications. In this blog post, we’ll explore the steps you need to take to become a mortician, including education and training requirements, job prospects, and salary expectations. Whether you’re just starting out or looking for a career change, this guide will provide you with the information you need to make an informed decision about pursuing a career in funeral services.

What is a Mortician and What Do They Do?

Roles and Responsibilities

Roles and Responsibilities

As a mortician, you will be responsible for various aspects of funeral services. Some of the key roles and responsibilities that you will need to perform are:

Death Certificate

One of the primary responsibilities of a mortician is to file a death certificate with the local government agency within a specified time frame. The death certificate contains vital information about the deceased person, including their cause of death, full name, date of birth, and parents’ names.

Arrange Funeral Services

Morticians are also responsible for arranging funeral services as per the wishes of the family members or according to religious customs. This includes coordinating with vendors such as florists, caterers, musicians, and other service providers to ensure that everything runs smoothly during the ceremony.


Another responsibility of a mortician is to offer cremation services to those who prefer it over burial. Morticians must follow state-specific regulations regarding cremation and ensure that the process is handled with care and dignity.

Casket Selection

Morticians work with families to help them select caskets or urns that suit their needs and budget. They may also provide advice on different types of caskets based on material, design, and cost. A mortician must have excellent communication skills to understand the family’s preferences and suggest appropriate options.

In summary, being a mortician involves several responsibilities, including filing a death certificate, arranging funeral services, handling cremation, and assisting in casket selection. Morticians must possess empathy, attention to detail, and excellent communication skills to offer compassionate and supportive services to grieving families.

Skills and Qualifications

Skills and Qualifications

Becoming a mortician requires more than just education and training. It also involves developing certain skills and qualities that are essential for success in this profession. Here are some of the key skills and qualifications you should possess if you want to become a mortician:


One of the most important skills for a mortician is empathy. Funeral services can be emotionally charged, and families who have lost a loved one need someone who can understand and support them during this difficult time. A compassionate and empathetic approach is crucial for building trust and rapport with clients, and for providing the level of care and attention they deserve.

Communication Skills

Effective communication is another critical skill for a mortician. Funeral directors need to communicate clearly and professionally with grieving families, vendors, and other stakeholders involved in funeral arrangements. They must be able to explain complex concepts, answer questions, and provide guidance in a way that is sensitive, respectful, and tailored to each client’s unique needs.

Attention to Detail

Attention to detail is another vital skill for a mortician. Funeral services involve many details, including paperwork, scheduling, and logistics. A mistake or oversight could cause unnecessary stress or inconvenience for clients, so it’s essential to be meticulous and thorough in all aspects of the job. Additionally, morticians must pay close attention to aesthetic details, such as makeup and clothing, to ensure that the deceased looks dignified and presentable.

Artistic Ability

Finally, artistic ability is a valuable skill for a mortician. Restorative arts, which involve preparing the deceased for viewing, require a high level of skill and creativity. Morticians must be able to use makeup, prosthetics, and other techniques to create a natural, lifelike appearance for the deceased. This requires both technical skill and artistic talent, as well as an eye for detail and a commitment to quality.

In summary, becoming a successful mortician requires more than just technical knowledge and certification. Developing soft skills, such as empathy, communication, attention to detail, and artistic ability, is essential for providing compassionate and professional funeral services that meet the needs of grieving families.

Education and Training Requirements

Mortuary Science Program

The field of mortuary science requires a strong educational foundation to ensure proper training and expertise in funeral services. A mortuary science program is the first step for those interested in pursuing a career as a mortician.

Anatomy is a crucial element of a mortuary science program, as it provides students with an understanding of human anatomy necessary for embalming and reconstructing bodies. Chemistry is also a vital component, as it teaches students about chemical processes used in embalming and preservation.

Restorative art is another key aspect of a mortuary science program. In this course, students learn how to use makeup and other techniques to restore a body’s natural appearance after trauma or disfigurement.

In addition to technical courses, business management is also included in a mortuary science program. This course covers topics such as accounting, marketing, and business law, preparing students for the administrative side of funeral services.

Overall, a mortuary science program offers a comprehensive education that equips students with the knowledge and skills necessary to become a successful mortician. With a strong foundation in anatomy, chemistry, restorative art, and business management, graduates are prepared to enter the field with confidence and provide quality service to families during their time of need.

Licensing Exam

To become a licensed mortician, you must pass a licensing exam. The specific requirements vary by state, but all aspiring morticians must meet the educational and training requirements before they can sit for the exam.

One of the most important components of the licensing process is the National Board Examination (NBE). This is a comprehensive, multiple-choice exam that covers all aspects of funeral service, including embalming, funeral directing, and restorative art. The NBE is administered by the International Conference of Funeral Service Examining Boards (ICFSEB) and is used by many states as part of their licensing requirements.

In addition to the NBE, some states require a practical exam as part of the licensing process. This exam may include tasks such as embalming, funeral arranging, and handling human remains. It is designed to test a candidate’s ability to apply their knowledge and skills in a real-world setting.

Each state has its own specific requirements for licensure, so it is important to research the requirements in your state before beginning the licensing process. Some states may have additional requirements beyond the NBE and practical exam, such as continuing education or an apprenticeship.

It is also important to note that licensing requirements can change over time. As the funeral industry evolves and new technology and techniques are developed, states may update their licensing requirements to reflect these changes. Therefore, it is essential for morticians to stay up-to-date on any changes to licensing requirements in their state.

Overall, passing the licensing exam is a critical step in becoming a licensed mortician. By meeting the state-specific requirements, passing the NBE, and completing any necessary practical exams, aspiring morticians can obtain the necessary license to begin working in the field of funeral services.



One of the key steps to becoming a mortician is completing an apprenticeship. This involves receiving on-the-job training and mentorship from experienced funeral directors or embalmers in a funeral home or crematory setting.

During an apprenticeship, aspiring morticians learn the ins and outs of the funeral industry, including how to arrange funeral services, handle remains, and interact with grieving families. They also gain hands-on experience in embalming, restorative art, and other tasks related to preparing a body for burial or cremation.

Apprenticeships vary in length depending on the state, but typically last between one and three years. Some states require a certain number of hours of apprenticeship before taking the licensing exam, while others allow it to be completed concurrently.

In addition to providing invaluable experience, apprenticeships can also lead to job opportunities. Many funeral homes and crematories hire their apprentices after they complete their training and become licensed. Even if an apprentice doesn’t end up working at the same establishment, the connections and references they make during their apprenticeship can be valuable in finding employment elsewhere in the industry.

Overall, completing an apprenticeship is a crucial step in the journey to becoming a licensed mortician. It allows aspiring funeral directors to gain real-world experience under the guidance of seasoned professionals, providing them with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in this rewarding and challenging career path.

Continuing Education

Continuing Education

Continuing education is a vital aspect of any career, and the funeral industry is no exception. As a mortician, it’s important to stay up-to-date with the latest industry trends, regulations, and techniques to provide the highest quality service to clients.

One way to continue your education is through professional development opportunities such as attending conferences, workshops, or seminars. These events offer a chance to network with other professionals in the field, share knowledge and experiences, and learn about new developments in the industry.

Another option for continuing education is staying informed about industry updates through trade publications, online forums, and social media groups. Keeping up with news and trends can help you identify areas where you may need to improve or expand your skills.

Specialization is also an important aspect of continuing education in the funeral industry. Many morticians choose to specialize in areas such as embalming, cremation, or grief counseling. Specialization can help you stand out in the industry and attract a specific clientele.

Additionally, some states require morticians to complete a certain number of continuing education hours each year as a condition of license renewal. This ensures that licensed professionals are staying current with industry standards and best practices.

In conclusion, continuing education is essential for anyone pursuing a career in the funeral industry. Whether it’s through professional development, staying informed about industry updates, or specializing in a particular area, ongoing education is critical to providing the best possible service to clients.

Job Prospects and Salary Expectations

Job Prospects and Salary Expectations

If you’re considering a career in funeral services, it’s important to understand the job outlook and salary expectations for morticians. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of funeral service workers is projected to grow 4 percent from 2019 to 2029, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations. As the baby boomer generation ages, there will be an increased demand for funeral services, which means more job opportunities for morticians.

Salary range for morticians varies depending on factors such as location, experience, and type of employer. The median annual wage for funeral service managers was $78,040 as of May 2020. Morticians who work in metropolitan areas tend to earn higher salaries than those who work in rural areas. Additionally, those who work for larger funeral homes or chains may have access to higher salaries and benefits packages.

Employment settings for morticians can vary, with many working at funeral homes or crematories. Some may also work at hospitals or coroner’s offices to assist with the preparation of bodies. There are also opportunities for morticians to work independently by starting their own funeral home business.

Advancement opportunities for morticians can include moving up to management positions within a funeral home or even owning their own funeral home. Additionally, some morticians may choose to specialize in areas such as embalming or grief counseling, which can lead to advanced certifications and higher salaries.

Overall, a career as a mortician can be rewarding both personally and financially. Understanding the job outlook and salary expectations can help you make an informed decision about pursuing this career path.


The funeral industry may not be for everyone, but for those who are passionate about it, it can be a deeply fulfilling career path. Pursuing a career as a mortician can provide a sense of purpose and satisfaction that few other professions can match.

For many, the opportunity to help families during their most difficult times is the main draw of this career. Being able to provide comfort and support to grieving relatives and friends is incredibly rewarding, and can help make a significant difference in their lives. Additionally, helping families create meaningful and personalized funeral services that honor their loved ones can be a creative and fulfilling process.

While the funeral industry may not be the most glamorous or lucrative career path, many find personal fulfillment in the work they do. Knowing that they are providing an essential service to their community and making a positive impact on people’s lives can be immensely satisfying.

Overall, pursuing a career in the funeral industry requires dedication and hard work, but it can be an incredibly rewarding career path for those who are passionate about it. Whether you’re interested in embalming, funeral directing, or another aspect of funeral services, there are opportunities to find personal fulfillment and make a meaningful impact on the lives of others.
Becoming a mortician is a meaningful and rewarding career choice that requires dedication, compassion, and a strong sense of professionalism. In this guide, we have explored the roles and responsibilities of morticians, the education and training requirements, as well as job prospects and salary expectations. From arranging funeral services to providing support and comfort to grieving families, morticians play a critical role in our communities. By pursuing a career in funeral services, you have the opportunity to make a positive impact on people’s lives during difficult times. It may not be an easy path, but the personal fulfillment that comes with helping others in their time of need is immeasurable. If you are considering a career in funeral services, take heart in knowing that you are embarking on a journey that will leave a lasting impression on those you serve.

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