A mortician or funeral director is a professional serving in the business of funeral rites. A mortician is responsible for tasks that include embalming, cremation, or burial of the deceased. This type of professional may also be responsible for preparing remains for viewing, including dressing a body and assisting in the application of cosmetics to optimize a deceased individual’s appearance. A mortician also assists in making arrangements for a funeral or memorial service. A mortician does complete a course of study in an institution of higher learning. With that noted, a mortician does not need to be a physician to embark on this type of career.
Mortician Versus Coroner: When a Professional in These Professions Might be a Physician
On occasion, at least some level of confusion arises between a mortician and a coroner or medical examiner. A coroner or medical examiner is responsible for assisting in ascertaining the cause of death is situations specifically set out in the laws of a particular state. In many jurisdictions, a coroner does need to be a physician. However, this is not universally the case in all jurisdictions in the United States. Specific state law governs whether or not a coroner or medical examiner must be a physician.
Education of a Mortician
There are currently almost 20,000 licensed morticians in the United States today, according to the National Funeral Directors Association. On a related note, there are about 10,000 funerals homes or mortuaries in the country. As an aside, the term “mortician” has been largely replaced by the title “funeral director” in most locations in the United States.
A person interested in a career as a mortician or funeral director in the United States typically obtains a degree in mortuary sciences. As is the case with coroners or medical examiners, the laws of each state dictate what type of educational background a person must have to become a duly licensed mortician.
Some community or junior colleges in the United States offer two-year mortuary science degree programs. In the alternative, some colleges and universities offer two- or four-year mortuary science degree programs. Typical mortuary science curriculum includes courses in physiology, pathology, anatomy, embalming, restorative arts, and business administration and management.
In most states, following obtaining a degree in mortuary science, a person spends a year undertaking an apprenticeship at a funeral home. In many instances, the apprenticeship serves as a means of joining a funeral home as a permanent employee. Before being able to lawfully work as a mortician, nearly all states require a person to sit for an examination and obtain a license.
Related Resource: 10 Best Affordable Bachelor’s in Funeral Service and Mortuary Science
The demand for morticians remains strong in the United States. This is particularly proving to be the case as the large Baby Boom generation continues to progress into and through their Golden Years. One trend in the business is for some licensed professionals to undertake embalming as their primary job function. At the same time, other people with mortuary science backgrounds tend to the other elements of the funeral process, including assisting families in planning funerals or memorial services for their loved ones.