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Coroner vs. Mortician: What Are the Differences?

Learn about the two careers and review some of the similarities and differences between them.

A coroner and a mortician are both professionals who work with the dead. Though their jobs are similar, there are several key differences between them. In this article, we discuss the similarities and differences between a coroner and a mortician, and we provide helpful tips for choosing which profession is right for you.

What is a Coroner?

A coroner is a government official who investigates sudden, unexpected or violent deaths to determine the cause of death. Coroners typically have a medical degree and are trained in forensic pathology. In some jurisdictions, the coroner is a medical examiner who is responsible for both investigating deaths and performing autopsies. In other jurisdictions, the coroner is responsible for investigating deaths, but the medical examiner performs the autopsy. Coroners typically work with law enforcement officials to investigate homicides, suicides and other suspicious deaths. They may also be called to testify in court about their findings.

What is a Mortician?

Morticians, also known as funeral directors or undertakers, are responsible for the physical preparation and burial of the dead. They work with families of the deceased to plan and carry out funeral services. This includes selecting the casket or container, arranging the funeral service, and coordinating the burial or cremation. Morticians also prepare the body for burial or cremation by washing and embalming the body, dressing the body, and applying cosmetics. They may also be responsible for transporting the body to the funeral home or cemetery.

Coroner vs. Mortician

Here are the main differences between a coroner and a mortician.

Job Duties

Coroners and morticians share some of the same job duties, such as preparing a deceased person’s body for burial or cremation. This may involve cleaning the body, removing any medical equipment or clothing and performing an autopsy to determine the cause of death.

Other job duties that coroners have include determining the circumstances surrounding a death and investigating deaths that appear suspicious. These professionals report their findings to a district attorney, who decides whether to press charges in cases of criminal activity related to a death. Coroners also inform families about the details of a loved one’s death and help with funeral planning.

Job Requirements

Coroners and morticians typically need at least a bachelor’s degree in forensic science or a related field. Some coroner positions may require a medical degree, and mortician positions may require an associate degree in funeral service or mortuary science. Many professionals in these fields also complete internships or apprenticeships to gain hands-on experience. In some states, coroners and morticians must also be licensed.

Work Environment

Coroners and morticians work in different environments. Coroners typically work for county or state governments, so they may spend most of their time at a government office. They also travel to crime scenes to perform autopsies on the deceased.

Morticians usually work in funeral homes, where they assist families with funeral arrangements and prepare bodies for burial. Some morticians own their own funeral homes, while others work for larger companies.


Both coroners and morticians need to have a strong attention to detail as they are often working with sensitive material. They also both need to be able to handle difficult situations, as they are often working with grieving families.

Coroners typically need to have medical knowledge, as they are responsible for determining the cause of death. This can involve performing autopsies and other tests on bodies. Morticians do not necessarily need to have medical knowledge, but they do need to understand how to prepare bodies for funerals. This can involve embalming, dressing and cosmetology.

Both coroners and morticians need to have good communication skills, as they will be interacting with grieving families. They also both need to have good organizational skills, as they need to keep track of paperwork and maintain a clean work environment.


The average salary for a coroner is $71,916 per year, while the average salary for a mortician is $55,916 per year. Both of these salaries can vary depending on the location of the job, the level of experience and the type of employer.


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