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Mortician Job Description

Morticians attend to the business of funerals. They work from funeral homes and crematories, helping the family of the deceased manage decisions about the event. They also take part in running the funeral itself and are involved in many of the bureaucratic tasks that attend upon a death.
Morticians are the public-facing workers within a funeral home. To do their jobs well, they must be able to communicate effectively with people who are grieving or anxious. Equally important as compassion in the work of the mortician is a familiarity with funeral regulations and traditions. The job calls for long shifts and often requires evening and weekend hours.
Beyond the preparations necessary in arranging the ceremony itself, it often falls to morticians to file paperwork for death benefits and other legal matters. Morticians must both be and seem dependable; adherence to a conservative manner of behavior and dress is the rule throughout the industry.
Besides working closely with families, morticians also have professional relationships with clergymen, the police, and hospital directors.

Mortician Duties

  • Arrange details of funeral with family
  • File paperwork and legal documents
  • Submit obituaries
  • Prepare body
  • Pre-plan funerals
  • Continuing education

Alternate Job Titles

Other common titles for a mortician are funeral director, funeral arranger, funeral counselor, and funeral pre-need consultant. Undertaker, less commonly heard now than it formerly was, is another name for the profession.

How To Become A Mortician

Morticians earn a degree or a certificate in funeral science, serve an apprenticeship, and find a permanent place working within a funeral home or crematorium. While some people choose to become morticians in order to carry on a family business, more come from outside the industry.

How Long Does It Take To Become A Mortician?

The degree required in becoming a mortician takes around two years to earn. In most cases, states stipulate that a future mortician also spend some time as an apprentice. Depending on the state, the apprenticeship may take either one year or two; some states allow it to happen concurrently with school, while others require it to happen after graduation.

Education Requirements

An associate’s degree or its equivalent is the current standard for entry-level jobs as funeral directors. Increasingly, however, a bachelor’s degree is seen as desirable. The mortician’s field of study is mortuary science, which is taught in the nearly 60 schools accredited by the American Board of Funeral Service Education (ABFSE). To complete these programs, students must complete around 45 course hours related to funeral service.


A mortician can earn certification by passing a board exam. In some states, taking the National Board Exam is a step toward acquiring a license. These states include Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and Vermont. Kansas requires applicants to take a state board exam, while Pennsylvania, Texas, and Utah ask for results from both the national and state boards.


The licensing requirements for morticians vary from state to state. Some states, such as Colorado, have only a voluntary certification. However, most states require a license to practice as a mortician. Generally speaking, in order to acquire a license, the applicant must accumulate apprenticeship hours, take a certain number of course hours in mortuary science, and pass a board exam. Some states also require morticians to take a certain number of continuing education hours annually. These requirements vary a great deal from one state to the next, however, so ascertain the details with the state board responsible for the oversight of funeral directors.

Job Outlook

The number of jobs available to morticians is expected to grow around 18 percent over the next decade. This is an average amount of growth when compared to other professions. The industry willcontinue to serve the aging population of those born in the years just after World War II. Not only will burials increase, but so will too the work of planning funerals ahead of time. Morticians who can move to areas where the population tends to be older will benefit the most from growth within the industry. Detailed Mortician salary data is available here.

States With Highest Employment Levels

State Hourly mean Wage Annual mean salary # Employed Employment/1000 jobs
Texas $23.01 $47,850 1,820 0.17
New York $25.68 $53,400 1,660 0.19
California $32.63 $67,860 1,510 0.11
Florida $24.98 $51,960 1,410 0.19
Ohio $25.30 $52,630 1,130 0.22


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