Job Universe: Funeral Directors

Funeral directors arrange the details and handle the logistics of funerals.

+ More
  • The job: Funeral directors arrange the details and handle the logistics of funerals. They interview the family to learn their wishes about the funeral, the clergy or other people who will officiate, and the final disposition of the remains. They also comfort the family and friends. Together with the family, funeral directors establish the location, dates, and times of wakes, memorial services, and burials. They arrange for a hearse to carry the body, prepare obituary notices and have them placed in newspapers, arrange for pallbearers and clergy, schedule the opening and closing of a grave with a representative of the cemetery, decorate and prepare the sites of all services, and provide transportation for the deceased, mourners, and flowers between sites. Most funeral directors also are trained, licensed, and practicing embalmers.
  • Outlook: Employment of funeral directors is expected to increase by 12 percent from 2006 to 2016, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Projected job growth reflects growth in the death-care services industry. In addition to employment growth, the need to replace funeral directors who retire or leave the occupation for other reasons will provide a number of job opportunities.
  • Experience: Funeral directors are licensed in all states. Licensing laws vary, but most states require applicants to be 21 years old, have two years of postsecondary education, serve a one-year apprenticeship, and pass an examination. College programs in mortuary science usually last from two to four years. The American Board of Funeral Service Education accredits about 50 mortuary science programs.
  • The not-so-good: Funeral directors occasionally come into contact with bodies that had contagious diseases, but the possibility of infection is remote if health regulations are followed. Funeral directors often work long, irregular hours, and the occupation can be highly stressful. Many are on call at all hours because they may be needed to remove remains in the middle of the night.
  • Pay: Median annual earnings for wage or salaried funeral directors were $49,620 in May 2006. Salaries of funeral directors depend on the number of years of experience, the number of services performed, the number of facilities operated, the area of the country, and the director's level of formal education. Funeral directors in large cities usually earn more than their counterparts in small towns and rural areas.

Learn more:

This information is from the Occupational Outlook Handbook, published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics .