As of 2014, the median annual salary of a mortician is $46,550 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics with approximately 39,000 morticians in the workforce, which is 75% male. Using the 25th and 75th percentile to approximate starting and high end salaries, you can expect to earn about $25,000 when you start your first job and earn about $60,000 or more after you’ve established yourself. A mortician’s salary will vary state by state and whether you are in a rural or urban environment. In general, funeral directors tend to make more in the Northeast and in large cities. Additionally, independent contractors/freelancers who get paid per job completed could also get paid more.
The outlook for the funeral services industry incredibly bright. With the baby boomers coming near retirement age, there will be a massive group of US citizens who will need healthcare and potentially funeral services if the time comes. The BLS projects a 16% increase in funeral services jobs by 2020 to reflect the aging population. Additionally, funeral services are not cheap. The average total cost of a funeral is around $9,000 with professional fees accounting for nearly $2,000 of that total cost. Each year nearly 2.5 million people die in the United States, which makes the professional fees in the industry sum up to almost $5 billion. However, be warned that the growing trend is that people are switching to cremation and even home funerals to save costs in the funeral. Although this affects the funeral home’s income more, a mortician’s salary might get hit as there may be a smaller demand for embalmers. Furthermore, the funeral home industry is rapidly merging. In 2014, two of the largest chains of funeral home operators merged. The combined entity of Service Corporation International and Stewart Enterprises controls about 15% of the funeral home industry. Yes, that’s right, the funeral home industry has it’s own Walmart now. You know what this means? It will be harder and harder to operate as a small family business, because the big conglomerates will just price you out of business. A
Starting your own funeral home
Let’s run through some of the economics. Funeral homes and cemeteries in the US perform on average about 110 funerals and 150 burials per year. The average cost of a funeral is close to $10,000. That means on average, a funeral home earns $1.1-1.5 million in revenues per year. Using Service Corporation International’s operating margin of 15%, the average owner is expected to earn nearly $200,000 a year after paying for all operating expenses (labor, rent, marketing, general administrative expenses). Of course, your experience may vary and you need to put in lots of hard work.
Please keep in mind any talk of salary data is generally misleading. Salary data is hard to find online and most sites such as salary.com will be inaccurate. The Bureau of Labor Statistics provides the most up to data employment and salary figures. Each month and year, the program surveys nearly half and million worksites in order to approximate detailed industry data.