A degree in mortuary science and embalming is necessary for those who plan to work as morticians and funeral directors. Mortuary science and embalming deals with the restoration and preservation of bodies prior to funerary services. A mortuary science and embalming program does not just educate the student in working with dead bodies, but also with the consolation of the friends and families of the deceased. Mortuary science and embalming programs include coursework in business management and ethics.
Classes in mortuary science and embalming include:
- Restorative Art
- Funeral Service Orientation
- Principles of Embalming
- Psychology of Grief
- Descriptive Pathology
Upon completion, programs assist individuals with apprenticeship placement, a necessity for eventually obtaining licensure. All states require licensure for funeral directors, though some states may require separate licenses for embalming and funeral direction. The governing body for program accreditation is the American Board of Funeral Service Education (ABFSE).
A career in mortuary science and embalming can be financially rewarding. Embalmers receive an average salary of $44,000 per year, with starting wages being approximately $26,000 per year. Funeral Directors received an average of $52,000 dollars per year, with lowest 10% receiving less than $29,000 per year and the highest 10% receiving more than $92,000 per year. The salary of a funeral director is dependent on experience, services performed, level of education and number of facilities operated. Additionally, funeral directors operating in large cities will make more than those in smaller or rural areas.
It is important to note that due to the nature of the field there are negative aspects in pursuing a career in mortuary science:
- Some students may feel isolated from their non-mortuary science peers due to their major.
- One of the more difficult aspects of mortuary work is the various odors in the work place.
- The danger of working with infectious cadavers (Can be avoided with proper precautions)
- Emotional and psychological stress brought on by working with bodies, especially those of children.
- There is a high dropout rate for mortuary students primarily because of the mental toll it takes.