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 the experience to deal with the myriad tasks that arise on a day-to-day basis.

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How to Select a Mortician School

There are very few schools in each state that offer programs in mortuary science, so the selection process is limited. Individuals may find associate and bachelor's degree programs in this subject at select community colleges and universities.

Summary of Important Considerations

  • Accreditation
  • Licensing requirements
  • Internships and career preparation
  • Learning format

Accreditation

Students should look for schools and programs that have been accredited by the American Board of Funeral Service Education (ABFSE, www.abfse.org), which is the only accrediting organization for morticians accepted by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council on Higher Education Accreditation.

Licensing Requirements

Students should 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 or funeral director (www.nfda.org).

Internships and Career Preparation

Because some states may require morticians to serve apprenticeships or services before becoming funeral directors, students may want to see if their school's program supports these state requirements through the completion of several internships. Some programs may also focus on health care administration, potentially preparing graduates to assume leadership positions. Prospective morticians, funeral directors and embalmers may want to find out if their school offers help with job placement, as well as providing internships.

Learning Format

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.

Mortician Program Overviews

Associate of Applied Science in Mortuary Science

An Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Mortuary Science program typically lasts 2.5-4 years. Students must have completed general education requirements prior to enrollment in an AAS 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, covering topics such as:

  • Microbiology and pathology
  • Embalming and restorative art
  • Mortuary law and management
  • Counseling

Bachelor of Science in Mortuary Science

A Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Mortuary Science program 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 and provide practical knowledge and training through lectures and labs. The curriculum includes an examination of these topics:

  • Funeral service and history
  • Embalming and restorative art
  • Anatomy, chemistry and pathology
  • Marketing
  • Management and law
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