Career Development

What Does an Embalmer Do?

Find out what an embalmer does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as an embalmer.

Embalmers are responsible for preparing bodies for burial or cremation following death. This often involves draining blood and other bodily fluids from the body, embalming it with chemicals to prevent decay, and restoring it to a presentable state. Embalmers also commonly assist funeral directors with dressing, casketing, and arranging funerals for their clients.

Embalmer Job Duties

Embalmers have a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Preparing the deceased for burial services by washing the body, applying makeup, and dressing it in suitable clothing
  • Preparing bodies for viewing by cleaning them thoroughly and making minor repairs to damaged areas
  • Performing tasks such as dressing, grooming, and preparing bodies for viewing in accordance with religious or cultural traditions
  • Maintaining records of deceased persons in accordance with federal laws, state laws, and local ordinances
  • Ensuring that the deceased is ready for funeral services by embalming the remains
  • Providing information about the funeral process and arranging for the preparation of the deceased for burial or cremation
  • Arranging for transportation of the body to the funeral home or cemetery for interment
  • Removing organs and tissues for donation or research purposes
  • Assisting families by providing information about funeral services, merchandise, and pricing

Embalmer Salary & Outlook

Embalmers are typically paid hourly, and their salaries can vary depending on a number of factors. These include the level of experience they have, the size of the company they work for, and the location of the job.

  • Median Annual Salary: $53,500 ($25.72/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $122,000 ($58.65/hour)

The employment of embalmers is expected to grow slower than average over the next decade.

The need to preserve and restore bodies will continue, but the increasing popularity of cremation may limit employment growth for embalmers. As people consider cremation an acceptable alternative to burial, fewer people will require embalming.

Related: Embalmer Interview Questions and Answers

Embalmer Job Requirements

To become an embalmer, you will likely need to have the following:

Education: Embalmers need an associate or a bachelor’s degree to work in this field. They can earn their degree in mortuary science, anatomy, biology or another related field. Courses in these programs include anatomy, physiology, microbiology, chemistry and pathology.

Training & Experience: Most embalmers receive on-the-job training from an experienced embalmer or embalming assistant. This training helps the new employee learn the specific techniques and procedures required for the job.

Certifications & Licenses: Embalmers need to obtain a license to operate in their state or district. The requirements vary depending on the state, but most require students to complete a basic embalming course or training before they can apply.

Embalmer Skills

Embalmers need the following skills in order to be successful:

Communication: Embalmers communicate with families, funeral directors and other members of the funeral industry. They also communicate with the deceased’s family members and loved ones to explain the process and answer any questions they may have. Effective communication skills can help embalmers communicate effectively with others.

Attention to detail: Embalmers need to have attention to detail to ensure they complete all the necessary tasks for each procedure. They need to ensure they properly sanitize and disinfect the body, fill the body with the correct amount of fluid and place the organs back in the correct position. Attention to detail is also important when embalmers are preparing the body for viewing. They need to make sure the body is dressed properly and the body is positioned correctly.

Empathy: Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. Embalmers use empathy to comfort families during the grieving process. They also use empathy to help families understand the importance of the embalming process and the role it plays in the funeral service.

Physical stamina: Embalming is a physically demanding job that requires a great deal of stamina. You may be on your feet for long periods of time and lifting and moving heavy equipment and caskets. You may also be required to stand for long periods of time while working on a body.

Professionalism: Embalmers should be professional in their interactions with families and other funeral staff. They should be respectful and courteous to families and other professionals, and they should follow all laws and regulations regarding the handling of human remains.

Embalmer Work Environment

Embalmers work in funeral homes, where they prepare the bodies of the deceased for burial or cremation. They work with families of the deceased to plan the funeral service and select the type of casket, burial clothing, and other funeral products. Embalmers also work with funeral directors to coordinate the funeral service. They may be required to work evenings and weekends to accommodate the schedules of grieving families. The work of an embalmer can be emotionally demanding, as it requires dealing with the death of others on a daily basis.

Embalmer Trends

Here are three trends influencing how embalmers work. Embalmers will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

The Demise of the Funeral Home

The funeral home industry is in a state of flux, as more and more people are choosing to have their loved ones cremated rather than buried. This trend is causing a decline in the number of funeral homes that are needed, which means that embalmers will need to find new ways to stay competitive.

One way to do this is by becoming more involved in the grieving process. Embalmers can do this by providing services that help families deal with their loss, such as counseling or helping them to create a memorial for their loved one. In addition, embalmers can also focus on developing new products and services that meet the needs of today’s consumers.

A Shift From Traditional Funerals

The traditional funeral is slowly being replaced by more modern alternatives, such as cremation and burials without a casket. This shift is having a major impact on the embalming industry, as fewer people are choosing to have their loved ones preserved.

As a result, embalmers will need to learn how to prepare bodies for cremation or burial without using formalin or other chemicals. They will also need to be able to provide support to families who are choosing alternative funeral arrangements.

How to Become an Embalmer

An embalmer career path can be rewarding and fulfilling. It offers the opportunity to help people in their time of need, as well as a chance to learn about the science of anatomy and pathology. Additionally, it provides an opportunity to work with families during a difficult time in their lives.

Embalmers must have a strong understanding of anatomy and pathology, so they should take advantage of any opportunities to further their education in these areas. They should also stay up-to-date on the latest trends in funeral service and embalming techniques.

Advancement Prospects

Most embalmers start out as apprentices, working under the supervision of a licensed embalmer. As they gain experience, they are given more responsibility and eventually may be promoted to manager or supervisor of the funeral home’s embalming department.

With additional training, embalmers may become funeral directors. Some embalmers open their own businesses.

Embalmer Job Description Example

At [CompanyX], we provide professional and compassionate care to families during their time of need. We are currently seeking an experienced embalmer to join our team. The ideal candidate will have a minimum of 2 years of experience in the embalming field, a valid embalming license, and a strong attention to detail. He or she will be responsible for embalming bodies, dressing and preparing them for funerals, and ensuring that all work is done in a timely and professional manner.

Duties & Responsibilities

  • Prepare bodies for interment in accordance with legal requirements, embalming procedures, and company policies
  • Perform administrative duties such as maintaining records, ordering supplies, and scheduling appointments
  • Embalm bodies using a variety of chemicals and techniques
  • Restore the natural appearance of the deceased through cosmetic treatments
  • Dress and position bodies for viewing
  • Prepare cremated remains for interment or shipment
  • Assist funeral directors with funeral services
  • Maintain a clean and orderly work area
  • Adhere to all safety protocols
  • Keep abreast of new developments in the field
  • Attend continuing education courses
  • Participate in professional associations

Required Skills and Qualifications

  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • Completion of an accredited embalming program
  • Valid state license to practice embalming
  • 1-2 years of experience working as an embalmer
  • Strong attention to detail
  • Excellent communication, interpersonal, and customer service skills

Preferred Skills and Qualifications

  • Associate’s degree or higher in mortuary science
  • 3+ years of experience working as an embalmer
  • Membership in professional organizations, such as the National Funeral Directors Association
  • Experience teaching embalming courses or seminars
  • Familiarity with a variety of embalming chemicals and techniques


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