How to Become a Funeral Director: Training & Requirements

Published November 10, 2020
Funeral director showing woman memorial plaque

If you are wondering how to become a funeral director, keep in mind that this career path can take several years and requires specialty schooling, an apprenticeship, as well as passing a licensing exam. If you plan on becoming a funeral director, having experience and speciality schooling is especially important for this particular career choice, as it can be an intense and emotionally draining career.

How to Become a Funeral Director

Funeral directors, sometimes referred to as undertakers or morticians, will need to complete several steps before their career can actually begin. While each state may have some slight variations in licensing requirements, in general:

  • Graduate from high school or complete GED.
  • Get your associate's degree in Mortuary Science from a program accredited by the American Board of Funeral Service Education.
  • Complete an internship either before, during, or after your schooling depending on your state's requirements.
  • Pass the national licensing exam and if applicable your state licensing exam.
  • Maintain your licensure based on your state's requirements.

How Long Does It Take to Be an Undertaker?

To become an undertaker, a term now synonymous with funeral director, you can expect about two to four years of schooling to earn your degree in mortuary science and between one and three years of apprenticeship that may or may not be completed during your time at school. You will also need to allow time to study and schedule your licensing exam.

Funeral Director Standing in Funeral Parlour

What Are the Educational Requirements for Funeral Directors?

The educational requirements can vary by state, so be sure to check out your specific requirements before signing up for courses. First, you will be expected to obtain your associate's degree in mortuary science. Keep in mind that some programs may offer funeral director courses online, but most will either be in person or a combination of online and in person schooling. Mortuary science courses may include:

How Do I Become a Better Funeral Director?

To improve your funeral director skills:

  • Seek out continuing education.
  • Find a more experienced mentor who you can connect with and learn from.
  • Join a support group with other funeral directors.
  • Know that with time and gained experience your skills will improve.

Funeral Director Skills

In general, it's important for funeral directors to be empathetic, even keeled, and organized individuals who are able to work well with those in the process of mourning. It is also critical that funeral directors are comfortable with death and working around deceased individuals. Funeral directors should be emotionally healthy and have the skills to process their workplace experiences in appropriate ways.

Senior couple speaking with a funeral director

How Much Do Funeral Directors Make?

A funeral director's salary will depend on various factors, including location of services. On average, funeral directors tend to make around $40,000 to $50,000 in terms of annual salary. However, on the higher end of the scale, some funeral directors make upwards of $100,000 annually.

What Does a Funeral Director Do?

A funeral director helps coordinate everything having to do with planning the funeral. Responsibilities will vary depending on the specific funeral director and the amount of staff working in the funeral home. For example, a funeral director may also act as the embalmer, or may have another staff member do so.

How Do You Become an Undertaker?

While it may take a few years to become a funeral director, know that the required schooling and internship experience is meant to prepare you for this career path.

How to Become a Funeral Director: Training & Requirements