Embalming School and Embalmer Salary

The process to get into an embalming school is the same as that of mortuary science schools. Typically, embalmers and morticians go through the same program, but receive separate licenses. In other words, there are no specialty embalming schools in the US. You have to learn both trades. The embalmer license exam often consists of an oral and written exam along with a live embalming to test your skills in field. The academic requirements to be an embalmer could be different from that of a mortician depending on your state, so please consult the license requirements page for more details. Often, there are more requirements to obtain an embalmer license vs a funeral director license because of the technical skills involved. Most students who attend mortuary science schools apply and take the license exam for both embalmers and funeral directors. This is because it opens up many more jobs having both licenses and most mortuary science schools teach both disciplines. If you are confused about the difference between an embalmer and mortician/funeral director please visit the definitions page.

Embalmers typically make a little less than a funeral director, with the median salary being $42, 750 vs $46,550 of a mortician. This is likely because the embalming is a dying process. Cremation is now a growing trend and accounts for nearly 50% of bodies. This is double the cremation rate 15 years ago.  Cremations are more cost effective and with the average  cost of funerals skyrocketing to nearly $10,000, families are looking for ways to save money without sacrificing any religious traditions.

The Embalming Process

The process starts with the embalmer evaluating a person’s height, weight, and physical conditions to determine what mix of fluids to use. Every case is different. The deceased eyes and mouth are closed and cotton is inserted in the mouth to provide a more natural expression. Muscle tension is then removed by relaxing the fingers, arms, and legs. The body is also disinfected with a cleansing soap and then a scalpel is used to make a small incision in the carotid artery and jugular vein. After, the embalmer drains all the blood from the vessels and embalming fluid is pumped through the system using a machine that regulated the pressure and flow. The body is massaged using a sponge to facilitate the even distribution of fluid. Afterwards, the body cavities are also injected with fluid and the body tissue will begin to take on a firm and rosy form.  The mortician may also choose to reconstruct the body to ensure it is in presentation condition.  This is usually the case when the subject has been in a serious accident. A closed casket funeral maybe necessary if the body cannot be adequately resurrected. Finally cosmetics are applied, a wig is put in place, and clothing approved by the family of the deceased is put on.