How to Become a Mortician

Mortician requirements vary widely across states, but it doesn't have to be difficult to figure out your next steps. Read more to determine if this is the career for you.

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by Lyss Welding

Published on February 4, 2022 · Updated on May 13, 2022

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How to Become a Mortician


"If being a kid is about learning how to live, then being an adult is about learning how to die," Stephen King wrote in his horror novel, "Christine." However, learning about death doesn't have to be horrifying. Morticians help families understand their options and coordinate services for their deceased loved ones.

In 2020, there were 25,000 morticians in the U.S., and the median mortician salary was $54,100, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Keep reading for mortician requirements and information about breaking into this field.

Steps to Becoming a Mortician

The path to becoming a mortician isn't one-size-fits-all. It varies from state to state. However, regardless of where in the country you live, the following guidelines may help you get started:

Types of Funeral Service Workers

There are different types of funeral service workers. Below, we list three of these job titles and their most prominent responsibilities:

What Is a Mortician?

Morticians, also called funeral directors, coordinate the variety of services, processes, and paperwork involved with the end of life. In addition to directing events and technical aspects of a funeral, they also help families cope.

What Does a Mortician Do?

Morticians work many evenings and weekends and may be on-call when not at the funeral home. Their responsibilities include interacting with families, performing services for decedents, and filing rigorous documentation.

When someone passes away, families turn to morticians to help them understand the processes and costs for funerals, burials, and cremation. Morticians also may refer families to grief counselors or support groups. Morticians work with families to receive decedents into their care where they may embalm them or otherwise prepare them for a funeral.

Death comes with administrative aspects as well. Morticians file death certificates and must carefully document every service they perform.

Mortician Responsibilities

In a typical day working as a mortician, you might:

Mortician Requirements

Each state has different requirements for morticians. Common requirements include:

You can download a detailed review of licensing requirements for each state from The International Conference of Funeral Service Examining Boards. While it's not legally required, it's a good idea to be familiar with the following concepts:

Certification Process for Morticians

Establish State Licensure

Nearly every state requires funeral directors to be licensed — you cannot practice without a license. Each state has a different process for gaining licensure. Always start by finding your state requirements, which should be listed on its government agency website.

If you enroll in an accredited associate or bachelor's degree program your instructors can help you navigate the licensure process in your state.

In addition, you can find regional resources to guide you through licensure:

Mortician Salary and Job Demand

The median annual wage for all funeral service workers in 2020 was $58,170, according to the BLS. Funeral home managers earned more than other funeral service workers, at $74,200. Morticians and other funeral arrangers earned median annual wages of $54,100.

Jobs for morticians may be growing slower than others. The BLS projects that employment for funeral service workers will grow 4% from 2020-2030. That is half the projected growth rate for all other occupations.

Growth Opportunities

There are many ways to expand your practice as a mortician. Consider the following:

  1. Earn Additional Certifications: Some associations, including the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA), offer certification training programs so you can build skills in cremation or consulting.
  2. Become a Funeral Home Manager: Morticians who want to become funeral home managers may need to pass additional exams or gain more experience.
  3. Meet Changing Client Demands: Today, there are more options for decedents than just cremation and burial. For example, people can volunteer to be composted post-mortem. NFDA found that almost 56% of people expressed interest in "green" services, which focus on environmentally and cost-effective funerals and memorials.

5 Top-Paying States

We have listed the top five highest-paying states for morticians below, according to the BLS.

Top-Paying States for Morticians
State Average Mortician Salary (May 2020)
Connecticut $126,000
Minnesota $81,630
Massachusetts $80,580
Indiana $75,410
Delaware $73,460

Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming a Mortician

How long does it take to become a mortician? true

The length of time it takes to become a mortician depends on your state's requirements for licensed funeral directors. Many states require you to have at least an associate degree. Associate degree programs in funeral service and mortuary science typically take 1.5-2 years. After graduating, you will need to intern in your state for 1-3 years.

How much does mortuary school cost? true

According to data listed by the National Center for Education Statistics, most associate of mortuary science programs cost between $5,000 and $13,000 a year.

You can find scholarships for mortuary school via ABFSE, the National Funeral Directors and Morticians Association, and the Funeral Service Foundation.

Can you do mortuary school online? true

ABFSE has accredited several online options for mortician school. These programs offer at least half of their courses online. However, you will need to complete some in-person training. For example, courses that train students to prepare decedents for funeral services are typically in person. You also must intern in person before becoming a licensed funeral director.

Feature Image: Nikola Stojadinovic / E+ / Getty Images

Interested in becoming a medical assistant? Read our guide to learn more about medical assistant training and certification. Learn how to become a cardiovascular technician and kickstart a rewarding career in healthcare. Not every career requires a bachelor's degree. If you're considering entering a vocation, check out these popular — and lucrative — trade school jobs.

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