Mortician Training and School Information
Morticians - also known as embalmers, funeral directors or undertakers - are vital not only for the preparation and disposal of the deceased, but also for attending to the survivors by organizing funeral and burial services. Because funeral directors are responsible for a variety of tasks and may work in a variety of settings, it is important that they are educated and have experience to deal with the myriad of tasks that arise on a day-to-day basis.
How to Select a Mortician School
Prospective funeral directors will find that there are very few schools in each state that offer programs in mortuary science, so the selection process is limited and will be based mostly on location and accreditation. Students should look for schools and programs that have been accredited by the American Board of Funeral Service Education (ABFSE), which is the only accrediting organization for morticians accepted by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (www.abfse.org).
Students should also check with the state in which they wish to work for additional requirements of morticians. The National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) website provides a list of state licensing boards and each state's requirements for being an embalmer and funeral director (www.nfda.org). Because some states may require morticians to serve apprenticeships or service before becoming a funeral director, students may want to see if their school's program supports these state requirements. Prospective morticians, funeral directors and embalmers may want to find out if their school offers help with job placement as well as meeting state licensure requirements with regards to internships.
After applying to a mortuary science program, some schools will conduct interviews and background checks of prospective students. Due to the nature of the mortician career, programs and class sizes are typically small. Students will attend small lectures and participate in hands-on learning labs. The curriculum for all mortuary science programs is rigid and often rigorous in order to conform to ABFSE and NFDA standards and state requirements.
Mortician Program Overviews
Associate of Applied Science in Mortuary Science
An Associate of Applied Science in Mortuary Science (A.A.S) program typically lasts between 2.5 to 4 years. Students must have completed general education requirements prior to enrollment in an A.A.S program and most programs specify that students have completed introductory courses in psychology, accounting and anatomy. Students will receive their associate degree after successfully completing the program and passing the National Board Examination. Mortuary science programs provide additional training in the sciences and business such as:
- Microbiology and Pathology
- Embalming and Restorative Art
- Mortuary Law and Management
Bachelor of Science in Mortuary Science
A Bachelor of Science in Mortuary Science (B.S.) typically lasts four years. During the first two years, students must complete their general education requirements; the last two years are spent within the mortuary science program. Programs prepare students for the National Board Examination as well as providing practical knowledge and training through lectures and labs. The curriculum includes:
- Funeral Service and History
- Embalming and Restorative Art
- Anatomy, Chemistry and Pathology
- Marketing, Merchandising
- Management and Law
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