There are currently about 30,000 funeral directors and 8,700 embalmers working in the United States. According to The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics’ latest data, a funeral director’s median annual salary is $50,370. The lowest 10% earn about $28,890, with the top-end 10% pulling in roughly $92,610. Pay is based on education level, experience, and the size and location of the employing company.*
Average Funeral Director Salary
Obviously, funeral directors’ salaries vary greatly. More growth opportunity is often offered in family-run companies than is in large corporate firms. Service Corporation International (SCI) is the largest mortuary corporation of funeral homes and cemeteries in the world. SCI owns 2,500 funeral homes, 460 cemeteries, and over 150 crematoria worldwide. The average yearly funeral director salary at SCI is $37,392. The National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) serves 87% of the nation’s 22,100 funeral homes, all privately owner/operated. Funeral directors/embalmers average $92,610 yearly or more, according to NFDA.*
*This is average funeral director salary according to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Job Description & Outlook
A Funeral Director – FD, LFD, FD&E, CFSP is a Mortuary School graduate and the overseer of embalming, cremation and burial of the funeral home’s deceased. Many are also embalmers. They are responsible in assisting the deceased family with all circumstances surrounding their comfort along with the burial of the dead.
The funeral business is a secure market. Need for funeral directors will not go away and service jobs will never be replaced by machines. Specialized, personal-service career employees (doctors, ministers, counselors, hospice workers and funeral directors), must possess a higher-than-average level of self-sacrifice and job commitment. They should be good listeners, show clear-thinking a balanced disposition, and an ability to delegate and be patient with others. The most important aspect of a funeral director’s job is their ability to interact well with people that are in their most fragile state.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
There is a lot of paperwork involved in this job. Many forms need to be filled out and mailed in behalf of the deceased. Writing and making copies of death certificates, contacting theVeterans’ Administration, the Social Security Administration, banks, unions and any annuity and insurance companies necessary (along with obituary writing), are all part of the job. Record keeping, bookkeeping and billing need to be kept on, along with preparing guest-books federal and state taxes and, oftentimes, family-need services and aftercare for grieving family members.
Training & Education Requirements
In most states applicants for funeral director must be at least 21 years-of-age. They must have either a two to four years of mortuary science, and have earned either an an AA or BS degree, depending on the state. One to three years of apprenticeship under the guidance of a licensed undertaker—either before or after mortuary school—must be fulfilled.
Thirty states require that funeral directors take continuing education credits yearly to update their mortuary licenses. After taking their state licensing test for funeral director, in some states a secondary test for embalming is required. The American Board of Funeral Service Education has about 50 accredited two-four-year college programs in accounting, computer technology, anatomy, pathology, embalming, physiology, restorative art, client services, business and funeral home management. Courses in public speaking, writing, business law, ethics, grief counseling and psychology are also encouraged areas of study.
In most states certification to become a licensed funeral director takes place after an application for a license is filled out and the fee is paid. Exams vary from state-to-state, but usually consist of written and oral sections, including demonstration of skills. Each state has a designated amount of time (240 educational hours in Ohio) deemed necessary to serve as an apprentice under a licensed mortician (usually 1-3 years) before qualifying for state testing and licensing when completed. Some states have separate tests for embalming and funeral directing; in others it is all in one test.
Professional Associations –
State Funeral Directors’ Association (SFDA) – In which each state lays out it laws and by-laws-An association of funeral directors from each state in the Union, laying out the laws and guidelines for each state’s funeral directors’ licensing.
The International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association and the National Funeral Directors Association – providing postsecondary educational institutional programs in funeral services and mortuary science
The National Funeral Directors & Morticians’ Association (NFD&MA)- A professional mortician and embalmers association whose members-at-large also belong to state associations in effort to promote the common professional and business interests of its members.
Selected Independent Funeral Homes – Founded in 1917, a worldwide association of independent professionals running locally-owned funeral homes
Funeral Service Foundation – A grant-making foundation that benefits people in the mortuary industry, their families and their communities. funeralservicefoundation.org/
American Board of Funeral Service Education (ABFSE) – Serves the National Academic d Accredidation Agency and is the sole “accrediting agency recognized by the US Department of Education and the Council on Higher Education Accreditation” in the mortuary education field. /www.abfse.org
Association of Women Funeral Directors (AWFD) The AWFD helps foster female funeral service women’s strengths www.wfdconnect.com.
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