Funeral home managers held about 40,700 jobs in 2021. The largest employers of funeral home managers were as follows:
|Death care services||31|
Morticians, undertakers, and funeral arrangers held about 27,400 jobs in 2021. The largest employers of morticians, undertakers, and funeral arrangers were as follows:
|Death care services||90%|
Funeral services traditionally take place in a house of worship, in a funeral home, or at a gravesite or crematory. However, some families prefer to hold the service in their home or in a social center.
Funeral service workers typically perform their duties in a funeral home. Workers also may operate a merchandise display room, crematory, or cemetery, which may be on the funeral home premises. The work is often stressful, because workers must arrange the various details of a funeral within 24 to 72 hours of a death. In addition, they may be responsible for managing multiple funerals on the same day.
Although workers may come into contact with bodies that have contagious diseases, the work is not dangerous if proper safety and health regulations are followed. Those working in crematories are exposed to high temperatures and must wear appropriate protective clothing.
Most funeral service workers are employed full time, and some work more than 40 hours per week. They are often on call; irregular hours, including evenings and weekends, are common.
An associate’s degree in a funeral service or mortuary science education program is the education typically required to become a funeral service worker. Most employers require applicants to be 21 years old, have at least 2 years of formal postsecondary education, have supervised training, and pass a state licensing exam.
An associate’s degree in a funeral service or mortuary science education program is typically required for all funeral service workers to enter the occupation. Courses usually cover topics such as ethics, grief counseling, funeral service, and business law. Accredited programs also include courses in embalming and restorative techniques.
The American Board of Funeral Service Education (ABFSE) accredits funeral service and mortuary science programs, most of which offer a 2-year associate’s degree at community colleges. Some programs offer a bachelor’s degree.
Although an associate’s degree is typically required, some employers prefer applicants to have a bachelor’s degree. Common fields of degree include mortuary science, psychology, and business.
High school students can prepare to become a funeral service worker by taking classes in biology, chemistry, business, and public speaking.
Students may gain relevant experience working part-time or summer jobs in a funeral home.
Those studying to be morticians and funeral arrangers must complete training, usually lasting 1 to 3 years, under the direction of a licensed funeral director or manager. The training, sometimes called an internship or an apprenticeship, may be completed before, during, or after graduating from a funeral service or mortuary science program and passing a national board exam.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Most states and Washington, DC, require workers to be licensed. An exception is Colorado, which offers a voluntary certification program. Although licensing laws and examinations vary by state, most applicants must meet the following criteria:
- Be 21 years old
- Complete an ABFSE accredited funeral service or mortuary science education program
- Pass a state and/or national board exam
- Serve an internship lasting 1 to 3 years
Working in multiple states requires multiple licenses. For specific requirements, contact each applicable state licensing board.
Most states require funeral directors to earn continuing education credits to keep their licenses.
The Cremation Association of North America (CANA), International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association (ICCFA), and the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) offer crematory certification designations. Many states require certification for those who will perform cremations. For specific requirements, contact your state board or the relevant professional organizations.
Work Experience in a Related Occupation
Funeral home managers typically have multiple years of experience working as a funeral director or mortician before becoming managers.
Funeral service workers typically have an interest in the Helping, Persuading and Organizing interest areas, according to the Holland Code framework. The Helping interest area indicates a focus on assisting, serving, counseling, or teaching other people. The Persuading interest area indicates a focus on influencing, motivating, and selling to other people. The Organizing interest area indicates a focus on working with information and processes to keep things arranged in orderly systems.
If you are not sure whether you have a Helping or Persuading or Organizing interest which might fit with a career as a funeral service worker, you can take a career test to measure your interests.
Funeral service workers should also possess the following specific qualities:
Business skills. Knowledge of financial statements and the ability to run a funeral home efficiently and profitably are important for funeral directors and managers.
Compassion. Death is a delicate and emotional matter. Funeral service workers must be able to treat clients with care and sympathy in their time of loss.
Interpersonal skills. Funeral service workers should have good interpersonal skills. When speaking with families, for instance, they must be tactful and able to explain and discuss all matters about services provided.
Time-management skills. Funeral service workers must be able to handle numerous tasks for multiple customers, often in a short time frame.
The median annual wage for funeral home managers was $74,000 in May 2021. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $42,260, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $135,660.
The median annual wage for morticians, undertakers, and funeral arrangers was $48,950 in May 2021. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $29,640, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $83,550.
In May 2021, the median annual wages for funeral home managers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:
|Death care services||$73,930|
In May 2021, the median annual wages for morticians, undertakers, and funeral arrangers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:
|Death care services||$48,830|
Most funeral service workers are employed full time, and some work more than 40 hours per week. They are often on call; irregular hours, including evenings and weekends are common.
Overall employment of funeral service workers is projected to grow 8 percent from 2021 to 2031, faster than the average for all occupations.
About 7,900 openings for funeral service workers are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.
Funeral service workers will be needed to assist the growing number of people prearranging end-of-life services. This demand will be constrained by consumers increasingly preferring cremation, which costs less and requires fewer workers than do traditional funeral arrangements. However, since most cremations still involve a memorial service or funeral, funeral home managers are expected to be needed to guide families and loved ones through the death care process and to plan end-of-life events.
For more information about funeral service workers, including accredited mortuary science programs, visit
For scholarships and educational programs in funeral service and mortuary science, visit
For information about crematories, visit
Candidates should contact their state board for specific licensing requirements.