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Funeral Direction/Service

Program Description

Just the Facts

Funeral Direction/Service. A program that prepares individuals for professional licensure as funeral directors and as managers of funeral homes, cemeteries, and related services. Includes instruction in the sociology of death and dying, psychology of grief and grief counseling, history of funeral service, funeral direction, business law, funeral service law, funeral home management, accounting and related computer operations, and funeral services marketing and merchandising.

This program is available in these options:

  • Certificate / Diploma
  • Associate degree
  • Bachelor's degree

High School Courses

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See the high school courses recommended for programs in this pathway:

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Related Programs

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Additional Information

It takes a special blend of compassion and business skills to work in the funeral services industry. Programs teach you how to help others say their last goodbyes.

The American Board of Funeral Service Education accredits mortuary science programs. Both two- and four-year programs are available.

Kelly Smith is the public relations manager for the National Funeral Directors Association. He believes students should consider a four-year program because it may soon become a requirement.

"This ought to be a student's first option," he says. "If you can't do that, then go to the nearest mortuary school."

Funeral directors must be licensed in every state except Colorado. Requirements vary by state, but in general, you have to be at least 21. You also need to study mortuary science, complete an apprenticeship and pass an exam.

"You should get your education and get your license in the area you plan to work," says Ward Yorke, a professor in the funeral service education program at a college.

Yorke says his program consists of a year of classroom studies and a one-year apprenticeship. Classes cover human anatomy, physiology, embalming, writing skills for health sciences, psychology of grief and small business management.

The Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science (PIMS) offers a diploma in embalming and funeral directing, an associate in specialized business degree for funeral service management and an associate in specialized technology degree in funeral service arts and sciences.

The curriculum includes classes in anatomy, pathology, microbiology, chemistry and environmental health. The funeral-related courses include funeral service law, funeral management, regulatory compliance and embalming.

"There is an embalming lab and a restorative art lab," says Gene Ogrodnik, PIMS president and CEO.

Yorke says high school students should take advanced science classes and have a solid background in English classes as well. Emergency first aid is also a plus.

His college, for example, requires applicants to have a standard first aid certificate. They also need work experience in a funeral home.

Along with tuition, students can expect to pay for books and lab fees.


Occupational Outlook Handbook
For more information related to this field of study, see: Funeral Directors

Links and resources, including career information

National Funeral Directors Association
Get more background on a career in funeral service


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