Funeral Director Salary

Funeral directors aren’t perhaps the first role models that pop in your mind when you think about which career path to choose, at least when you’ve young, but later on they can perfectly become one. Funeral services aren’t something we like to think about on a regular basis, but these are definitely a uniquely necessary part of what can be provided to us at delicate times. The importance of funeral houses and the quality of the services they provide directly reflects into a funeral director salary and the inherent job description, making the job quite desirable on more than one level. In 2012, according to the Bureau for Labor Statistics (BLS)*, there were about 32,800 funeral directors in the country, and 4000 new positions are expected to be created from 2012 until 2022 (a projected 12% job outlook).

Overview of a Funeral Director Salary

In 2012, the median salary of a funeral director (and also undertakers and morticians) was $46,840 per year, which is higher than the overall median for all occupations (which was $34,750 at the same moment). The median salary isn’t the equivalent of an average salary, but a middle value. This median value reflects that 50% of all funeral director salaries are a bit below the median one, and the other 50% are a bit above. For further reference, note that in 2012, the lowest 10% of all funeral directors, undertakers and morticians earned less than $25,580, and the top 10% of them earned more than $80,900. The odds for a high pay are looking pretty good, especially since these figures also account for the salaries of undertakers, which are probably dragging the numbers down a bit.

The median salary for all funeral service occupations was a bit higher, scoring $51,600 per year and $24.81 per hour. Also, funeral service managers can expect even higher salaries, with the median in 2012 being $66,720 per year. The lowest earning 10 percent of them made a little less than $38,420 and the top earning 10% of these managers earned more than $140,740 per year. A funeral director can expect to become a funeral service manager after at least 5 years of experience on the job, thus making the prospect of this job even more attractive.

Earning Factors of a Funeral Director Salary

The salary of a funeral director can vary according to a few factors, mainly by geographical location, by the industry which hires them, and by the individual’s experience in the field.

There are two main industries which hire funeral directors. These are the Federal Executive Branch (OES Designation) and Death Care Services (regular, commercial funeral homes). Obviously, the vast majority of jobs are in the death care services industry. However, federal jobs pay better. In 2009, for instance, according to the BLS, there were 25,360 funeral directors working in the death care services industry and making $60,230 per year (or $28.96 per hour). Only 380 funeral directors hired in the Federal Executive Branch, earning $70,190 per year ($33.74 per hour).

By geography, the top paying states for this occupation are (data provided is for 2009):

  • Massachusetts (with $39.80 per hour and $82,780 per year as a median wage for funeral directors);
  • New Jersey (with $38.38 per hour and $79,830 per year as a median salary);
  • Rhode Island (where the median is $37.61 per hour and $78,220 per year);
  • Delaware (with a median of $36.47 per hour and $75,840 per year);
  • New York (where a funeral director median salary is $35.48 per hour and $73,800 per year).

Funeral Director Job Description

A funeral director is the person that manages and organizes all the details regarding a person’s funeral, making it as easy and comforting as possible for the family members and friends of the deceased. Obviously, compassion and empathy are very much required qualities in a funeral director job description, and providing emotional support for the family is an important part of the job.

The other tasks of a funeral director include:

  • Arranging for the removal of the deceased person’s body;
  • Preparing the remains of the deceased for the funeral (performing the necessary embalming procedure and so on);
  • Arranging for the filing of the death certificate and the other legal details;
  • Organizing and managing the funeral service itself;
  • Training and supervising junior staff members.

Most funeral directors are employed full-time by their respective funeral homes and so on. One downside of the job is that they should also be available on call during evenings or weekends (when emergencies arise), which leads to pretty long hours on the job.

Funeral Director Job Outlook

According to the BLS, the funeral director occupation (as well as the overall funeral service occupations) is projected to grow by 12% from 2012 until 2022. This is about as fast as the average projected growth for all occupations in the country’s work field (which is 11%). The employment of funeral service managers is expected to grow a bit more, by 13%, for the same time frame.

The need for more funeral service workers is on the rise mainly because of the number of expected deaths (mostly in the ranks of baby boomers). More and more aging people will start pre-arranging their death services. The best chances for employment (and promotion) will be held by those workers who hold a double license (as a funeral director and as an embalmer as well), and also by those who will be willing to relocate for the sake of work.

Funeral Director Education Requirements

All funeral directors and funeral workers in general need to have an associate’s degree in mortuary sciences, as well as complete a year of apprenticeship during, before or after the Mortuary College. They will also need to pass an exam to obtain state licensing. All funeral directors must be licensed both federally in Washington D.C. and in the individual state they work for (except for the state of Colorado).

In some states, the licensure necessary to become a funeral director and the one needed for an embalmer are separate. But, all aspiring funeral workers should strive to obtain both (for better job prospects) if this is the case.

*All the numerical data present in the post has been obtained courtesy of the BLS,

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