A funeral director may not be your first choice for a career. However, maybe when you find out a funeral director salary and what exactly goes into the job, you’ll change your mind.
Funerals are not something we necessarily like to think about regularly. But, they are definitely a necessary service that is provided to us during a sensitive time.
The importance of funeral homes and the quality of 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 2016, there were about 54,400 funeral directors in the country, and 2,900 are expected to be created from 2016 to 2026.
Overview of a Funeral Director Salary
In 2018, the average salary of a funeral director (along with undertakers and morticians) was $57,620. This is for 25,740 people with this occupation.
The median salary for a funeral director was $52,650 in 2018.
For further reference, the median salary reflects that 50 percent of funeral director salaries are a bit below the median and 50 percent are a bit above.
The lowest 10 percent of all funeral directors, undertakers, and morticians earned less than $29,050. The top 10 percent earned more than $89,050.
As you can see, it’s possible to work your way up in this profession and earn a pretty high funeral director salary. However, it’s definitely possible for a funeral director salary to be quite low.
It all depends on your experience level, but there is great potential with a funeral director salary.
It’s also important to keep in mind that these numbers are also including morticians and undertakers, which is probably bringing the average numbers down a bit.
The average salary for funeral service managers is a bit higher, earning $93,820 per year on average, or $45.11 per hour.
The median wage for funeral service managers sits at $79,180.
It’s also important to consider that PayScale has a slightly different funeral director. PayScale says the annual funeral director salary is $47,501.
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 primary 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 2018, for instance, according to the BLS, 25,290 funeral directors were working in the death care services industry and making $57,430 per year (or $27.61 per hour). Only 230 funeral directors were hired in the Federal Executive Branch, earning $76,650 per year ($36.85 per hour).
By geography, the top paying states for this occupation are (data provided is for 2018):
- Texas — $53,560 annual wage
- Florida — $57,030 annual wage
- California — $51,350 annual wage
- Illinois — $72,280 annual wage
- Ohio — $55,460 annual wage
NFDA Jobs and 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 integral part of the job.
The other tasks of a funeral director or other NFDA jobs 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.
NFDA Jobs and 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 5 percent from 2016 until 2026.
This is about as fast as the average projected growth for all occupations in the country’s work field.
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 license 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, www.bls.gov.
Career Steps to Becoming a Funeral Director
There are numerous steps to take to become a funeral director, and we’re going to concisely put them all in this section for you.
An Associate’s degree is always necessary, but certain employers will even require a Bachelor’s degree. This degree will be in Mortuary Science.
Most mortuary science programs that are accredited by the American Board of Funeral Service Education (ABFSE) are Associate’s degrees. But, a few of them are Bachelor’s degrees.
Certain states may also require you to complete an accredited program for licensing.
Coursework may include:
- Professional ethics
- Funeral service psychology and counseling
- Restorative art
- Federal regulations and mortuary law
Business courses can also be extremely beneficial, especially if you are going to start your own business later in life.
Communications courses can also be beneficial, as you will be heavily interacting with the families of the deceased.
There is also a license required for funeral directors, as mentioned above.
To be eligible for a license, you must be at least 21 years old and have already completed an accredited two-year degree and apprenticeship program.
Subjects in the national exam include:
- Business law
- Funeral service merchandising
- Funeral service history
- Restorative arts
There is also some training required before becoming a full-time funeral director. Generally, you will need one to three years of apprenticeships required.
There are numerous skills and qualities needed to become a funeral director. These include:
- Knowledge of laws and ethics surrounding funeral services
Is the Funeral Director Career Right for You?
The big question is: “Is a funeral director the right career path for me?”
Being a funeral director takes a certain type of personality. You have to be able to work around the deceased, as well as deal with their families and friends during an extremely sensitive time.
As you can see, because this is such a sensitive job, a lot goes into becoming a funeral director. You need to decide if that is worth it for you.
Maybe the funeral director salary makes it worth it for you, and maybe the reward of taking the load off of stressed out families makes it worth it.
Either way, do you want to become a funeral director? Let us know why in a comment!
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