Career Development

What Does a Funeral Director Do?

Find out what a funeral director does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as a funeral director.

Funeral directors are responsible for the planning and execution of funeral services. They work closely with families to ensure that funerals are handled in a way that is respectful, dignified, and culturally appropriate.

Funeral directors may also be involved in other aspects of the funeral industry, such as cemetery management or cremation services.

Funeral Director Job Duties

Funeral directors have a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Coordinating with clergy members and other funeral professionals such as musicians and floral designers to plan and execute the service
  • Offering grief counseling to the bereaved family members to help them cope with their loss
  • Interviewing families to learn about their loved one’s life, interests, and achievements to create a eulogy or other tribute
  • Coordinating the logistics of the service including booking venues and hiring musicians, organists, or vocalists as needed
  • Arranging for the transportation of the deceased to the funeral home from the place of death
  • Maintaining records of the arrangements made for each funeral service provided by the business
  • Facilitating the transaction of accounts with insurance companies, social security administrations, and other entities that pay out benefits to families of the deceased
  • Coordinating with florists and other professionals to coordinate floral arrangements, music choices, catering needs, etc. for the service
  • Coordinating with the cemetery or crematorium where the funeral will be held to ensure that all details are finalized

Funeral Director Salary & Outlook

Funeral directors’ salaries vary depending on their level of education and experience, the size of the funeral home they work for, and the geographic location of their job.

  • Median Annual Salary: $56,500 ($27.16/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $99,500 ($47.84/hour)

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

The need to plan ahead for end-of-life services will continue to drive demand for funeral directors. However, the increasing popularity of cremation may limit employment growth because it requires less time and expense than funerals.

Related: In-Depth Funeral Director Salary Guide

Funeral Director Job Requirements

A funeral director typically needs to have the following qualifications:

Education: Most funeral directors earn an associate’s degree in mortuary science or a related field. These programs typically take two years to complete and include courses in anatomy, pathology, embalming, funeral service, ethics, law and business.

Training & Experience: Most funeral directors receive on-the-job training from their employer after they are hired. This training typically includes shadowing a current funeral director and performing duties under supervision until they are comfortable enough to complete tasks on their own.

Certifications & Licenses: To work in the funeral industry in the U.S., a funeral director must be licensed by the state. Requirements vary from state to state, but most require attending mortuary school and passing all portions of the National Board of Funeral Service Exam.

Some states require additional state-specific tests.

Funeral Director Skills

Funeral directors need the following skills in order to be successful:

Customer service: Customer service is the ability to interact with customers in a friendly and helpful manner. Funeral directors often interact with families who are grieving, so it’s important for them to be able to provide comfort and support while also answering any questions the family may have.

Empathy: Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. Funeral directors use this skill to help families during their time of grief. Empathy can help you comfort families, answer their questions and guide them through the funeral planning process.

Communication: Communication is the ability to convey information to others in a clear and concise manner. This is an important skill for funeral directors to have because they often work with people who are grieving and may not be familiar with the funeral industry. They must be able to explain the process of preparing a body for burial and help families understand the various options available to them.

Detail-oriented: Funeral directors need to be detail-oriented to ensure they meet the needs of their clients. They need to be able to listen to their clients’ needs and understand what they’re asking for. This allows them to provide the right information and services to their clients.

Technological skills: Funeral directors use technology to create marketing materials, manage records and communicate with clients. They also use technology to create presentations for families and to manage their businesses. Technological skills can include knowledge of software programs, computer hardware and software systems.

Funeral Director Work Environment

Funeral directors work in funeral homes, which are typically open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They are on call at all hours to respond to deaths, which may occur at any time. Funeral directors often work long hours, including evenings and weekends. They may work more than 40 hours per week, and their work may be stressful because they must deal with grieving families. Funeral directors must be able to handle the emotional stress of their work and be compassionate and understanding with the families they serve.

Funeral Director Trends

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

The Death Care Industry Will Become More Personalized

The death care industry is becoming more personalized as families are looking for ways to memorialize their loved ones in a way that reflects who they were as individuals. This trend is leading to an increased demand for funeral directors who can help families create unique and meaningful funerals.

Funeral directors who are able to provide this type of service will be in high demand, as they will be able to help families create funerals that reflect the life of the deceased. This will allow families to celebrate the life of their loved one in a way that is both respectful and memorable.

More People Are Choosing Home Funerals

As people become more comfortable with the idea of home funerals, the funeral industry is seeing a shift towards this option.

Funeral directors who are able to adapt to this trend will be better positioned to serve the needs of their clients. They will need to be familiar with the services that are available for home funerals, such as cremation, burial, and memorial services. In addition, they will need to be able to communicate with families about the options that are available and help them make decisions that are right for them.

A Greater Focus on Customer Experience

The funeral industry is changing rapidly, as customers are increasingly demanding a better customer experience. This means that funeral directors will need to focus on providing excellent customer service and creating a positive atmosphere for grieving families.

By focusing on customer service, funeral directors can set themselves apart from the competition and ensure that their customers are happy with the services they received.

How to Become a Funeral Director

A career as a funeral director can be rewarding in many ways. It offers the opportunity to help people at one of the most difficult times in their lives, and it also provides an opportunity to learn about different cultures and religions.

As a funeral director, you’ll need to have a strong understanding of the legal requirements for funerals, as well as the cultural and religious traditions associated with death. You’ll also need to be able to provide compassionate care to grieving families.

To become a funeral director, you’ll need to complete a training program that includes both classroom instruction and practical experience.

Related: How to Write a Funeral Director Resume

Advancement Prospects

After completing an accredited mortuary science program and being licensed, funeral directors generally start out working under the supervision of a more experienced funeral director. With experience, they may advance to positions such as assistant manager, manager, or funeral home owner.

Many funeral directors eventually move into related occupations, such as selling funeral-related products or working as a cemetery manager. Some become insurance sales agents, counselors, or chaplains. A small number become medical examiners or coroners.

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