Careers in Funeral Service
The State of Colorado does not require prior education or experience to enter the funeral service profession. An individual may acquire on-the-job training in funeral directing, embalming and/or cremation under the supervision of an experienced funeral professional at a licensed funeral establishment or crematory.
Most funeral establishments require that applicants be 18-years of age and have completed high school or GED requirements, and a criminal background check may be conducted for potential employees.
Criteria for job candidates is determined by each Funeral Establishment or Crematory. Some businesses prefer to hire candidates with prior funeral service experience, while others desire to train on-the-job.
Statutory requirements are mandated through licensed funeral establishments and crematories for individuals who practice under the titles of "Funeral Director", "Embalmer", "Cremationist" and "Mortuary Science Practitioner."
Funeral directors are often on call 24/7. Long workdays are common, including evenings and weekends. Duties for entry level personnel may include general maintenance duties, removal and transport assistance, and providing support to funeral home or crematory staff.
A career in funeral service might be a good choice if you:
- Are compassionate and have a desire to help others.
- Have an interest in human biological sciences.
- Want to get involved in your community.
- Like to work in a business environment.
- Looking for a second career after retirement.
A Funeral Service Professional:
- Works with the bereaved, providing sensitive, effective intervention during a time of emotional need.
- Is a professional caregiver who enables families and communities to express their concern for life and the living.
- Is a motivated man or woman who practices a unique vocation and who is legally required to possess certain professional qualifications.
- Is involved in a variety of activities within the community.
- Carries out administrative and logistical tasks required by law, custom and accepted practice.
Duties and responsibilities of a funeral service professional:
- Provides support to the bereaved during initial stages of their grief.
- Arranges and directs funeral ceremonies.
- Arranges for removal of the deceased from the place of death.
- Prepares the body according to the wishes of the survivors and requirements of the law.
- Secures information for legal documents.
- Files death certificates and other legal papers.
- Assists survivors with details for filing claims for death benefits.
- Helps individuals adapt to changes in their lives following a death through post-death counseling and support group activities.
Why should you enter funeral service?
- You are a caregiver who desires to serve others.
- You believe that ceremony is an effective means of expressing feelings and meeting needs.
- You are tolerant of ways in which people of different faiths and cultures express their feelings and practice their beliefs.
- You are interested in the technical sciences.
- You exhibit sensitivity and compassion for those with whom you are in contact.
- You are interested in learning all aspects of a business.
A high school diploma or equivalent is the mininum standard to begin a career in funeral service in the State of Colorado. Some establishments prefer to employ individuals with no prior experience in funeral service and may provide supervised, hands-on training in a work environment.
It is advisable to have some prior work experience at a funeral establishment, crematory or cemetery before enrolling in a Mortuary Science Program.
Basic educational requirements required for a license in most states include:
- A high school diploma or equivalent.
- An Associate Degree, or its credit hour equivalent, a portion of which is in funeral service education. (Arapahoe Community College in Littleton, Colorado, has an accredited mortuary science program.)
- Passing a state and/or national board licensing examination administered through the International Conference of Funeral Service Examining Boards. In Colorado, passing the national board exam is required for Mortuary Science Practitioners (under title protection statute) and for CMSP certification.
- An internship or apprenticeship ranging from one to three years. (MSP internship is one year in Colorado.)
- Many states require that funeral directors meet continuing education requirements to maintain licensure. (Six hours of continuing education is required to maintain Active status with the Colorado Funeral Service Board.)
- In most states, funeral directors and embalmers must be licensed through a state-regulated agency. In Colorado, voluntary certification is available through the Colorado Funeral Service Board in lieu of licensing.
The funeral service curriculum, approved by the American Board of Funeral Service Education (ABFSE), the United States' funeral service accrediting agency, includes courses in:
- Public Health and Technical Area - microbiology, anatomy, chemistry, pathology, restorative art and embalming.
- Business Management Area - business management, funeral arranging, funeral merchandising, funeral home management, computer applications, Federal Trade Commission Funeral Rule and accounting.
- Social Science Area - sociology of funeral service, psychology of grief, funeral directing, history of funeral service, communication skills and counseling.
- Legal, Regulatory and Ethical Area - business law, funeral service law and regulation and professional ethics.
With more than 21,000 funeral homes in the United States, there is always a need for well trained funeral service professionals. Demand is great for graduates who have prepared themselves for management positions by selecting business and communications courses as part of their college program.