Mortuary science is a course of study offered at institutions of higher education. Specifically, this degree program is defined as the study of deceased bodies and matters associated with funeral rites and practices. A person can obtain an associate’s degree in mortuary science at a junior or community college. As an alternative, some colleges and universities have bachelor’s degree programs in mortuary science. A person contemplating this course of study may wonder what jobs are available with a degree in mortuary science.
Most graduates of this type of degree program end up working as funeral directors. “Funeral director” is the term of art that has supplanted “mortician” in recent years. Although the job description of a funeral director varies from one funeral home or mortuary to another, there are some common responsibilities associated with the job. These include body preparation, including embalming. A funeral director assists in planning services, providing advice and assistance to grieving families, and serve as a general resource regarding a wealth of matters associated with the funeral and internment processes.
States have different licensing requirements for funeral directors, according to the American Board of Funeral Service Education. To become fully licensed as a funeral director, a graduate of an accredited mortuary science program must also serve an apprenticeship of between one to three years, depending on the specific state requirements.
Embalming and Restorative Technician
As part of the course of study to obtain a mortuary arts degree, a student studies embalming and restorative techniques. As is the case with many professions of different types in the 21st century, there has been a growing movement towards specialization within the funeral industry. As a consequence, some people who graduate with mortuary science degrees will specialize as embalmers or as restorative technicians.
Larger funeral homes are increasingly likely to have staff members who specialize in different aspects of the remains preparation and funeral processes. Indeed, some larger corporations that own multiple funeral homes have a centralized facility for embalming and restorative care.
Funeral Home Owner
Occasionally, a person armed with a mortuary science degree will start a funeral home early in his or her career. More often, a person with this educational background will become a funeral home owner later in his or her career. This oftentimes occurs when a family member with this type of degree ends up taking over the operations of the family business. In the alternative, a person who has been on the staff of a funeral home for some time is allowed to invest in the business and become a part-owner.
Related Resource: 10 Best Affordable Bachelor’s in Funeral Service and Mortuary Science
Even as large corporations continue to stake out territory in the funeral industry, 86 percent of funeral homes in the United States remain privately owned, according to the National Funeral Directors Association. Many of these funeral homes have been family-owned enterprises for multiple generations. Of the 14 percent of funeral homes owned by corporations, the vast majority are owned by one company; Service Corporation International owns 12 percent of all funeral homes in the United States today.