How to Become a Mortician

Learning how to become a mortician is not difficult and requires a small amount of education compared to other specialized technical fields. It takes two to five years depending on the state requirements and how hard you work. A degree in mortuary science typically takes two years to earn and is then typically followed by an internship which is anywhere from one to three years. You will then be eligible to take a licensing exam that you need to pass to finally be certified to practice in your state. If you are still confused about what a mortician does, please read the job description page.

Step One: Education

Requirements to become a mortician vary state to state. States that license embalmers require an associate’s degree through an accredited mortuary science school while other states only require a bachelor’s degree with a minor in mortuary science. Some states require you have separate licenses to be a funeral director and an embalmer. Please check out the list of requirements by state.

There are a total of 58 mortuary science schools accredited by ABFSE (American Board of Funeral Service Education). Most of these schools are two year associate’s degree offered at community colleges. Nine of these programs also offer bachelor degrees. These programs are taught by experience funeral directors and provide courses about the human anatomy, death, funeral service psychology, counseling, and mortuary law. Online courses are also offered, but most schools limit the coursework to only general classes. 13 schools offer online courses for a majority of the curriculum. Please refer to the mortuary science schools page for more detailed information.

Step Two: Obtain an Internship

Most states except Colorado require you to take on an internship for one to three years. The state may or may not allow you to do this while you are still in school. During the apprenticeship, you will intern under the guidance of a licensed mortician and could also be asked to perform a minimum number of embalmings. Some states may even require you to perform an embalming as part of the licensing exam. Remember, the purpose of the internship is to gain quality real world experience and to network with professionals in the industry. Be sure to maintain a good relationship with your supervisor and don’t burn any bridges.

Step Three: Licensing and Continuing Education

You need a license to practice as a mortician, but the requirements vary state by state. Generally speaking, to obtain a license you need to be at least 21 years of age, accumulate a certain amount of credits in mortuary science courses at an accredited college, obtain the required internship hours, and finally pass the approved national licensing exams. The exam is tough and includes business law, psychology, funeral service merchandising and history, microbiology, pathology, restorative arts, anatomy and embalming even though you may not want to specialize in embalming. States may also have additional state exams you need to pass to obtain a special state license.  The national pass exam on the licensing exam is about 80%. Also, in most states, morticians require continuing education credits every year in order to keep their license.  These courses generally consist of workshops, seminars, webinars, teleconferences, and online coursework. This allows the funeral director to keep up with current laws and trends in the industry.

Step Four: Employment

Now after all that hard work, you can final practice as a mortician. You should probably start at where you interned or a family office/chain before embarking in your own start up funeral home business. Additionally, you could be an independent contractor for a bunch of funeral homes, which gives you to flexibility to not always being on site. Arguably, you could get paid more as a contractor since work is paid on a per diem basis. As you start working, you should probably join the NFDA (National Funeral Directors Association). By now you should have obtained enough information on how to become a mortician. Your job will always be appreciated.