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What is a mortician?
A mortician is someone who provides funeral services. A mortician may also be called a casketmaker, casket maker, or coffin maker. A mortician typically works in a funeral home. They make the arrangements for the burial of the deceased and help with the burial.
A mortician is responsible for a range of death care duties, although the daily tasks can vary based on the needs of their clients. Some of the most common death care duties of morticians include meeting with the family members and loved ones of the deceased to make funeral arrangements and help them through the process. Death is a challenging and emotional time for people who have lost someone close to them, so a mortician must help during a trying time while providing access to the necessary resources.
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Morticians also work with dead bodies to prepare them for burial and transport them to various locations. A mortician might pick up the body and take it to the funeral home for preparation and perform the preparatory services, including embalming and applying makeup to make the body look more presentable for an open-casket funeral. Morticians often work with others involved in the process, such as those working at a church where a funeral will take place or the cemetery where the burial will take place.
Some additional terms that may refer to morticians include undertakers and funeral directors. Although some of the duties may vary between each individual role, those working in the death care industry often support one another by offering various services to their clients. A mortician may work solely with deceased bodies to prepare them for funerals and burials, but many work closely with the family and friends of the deceased to provide support and resources through the death process.
Requirements for being a mortician
Working as a mortician requires the completion of an associate degree from an accredited program. The accreditation comes from the American Board of Funeral Service Education (ABFSE) and mortuary science and funeral services programs are offered throughout the U.S. After you complete your education, you will qualify to take the national board examination, which the ABFSE administers. When you pass the examination, the ABFSE can help place you in a paid apprenticeship. After completing the required number of hours as an apprentice, you can then take the state board exam in the state in which you plan to work.
In addition to completing your education and passing the required exams, you must also have certain skills to work in this field. Death care services are challenging and require you to have great compassion for others as they deal with grief and sorrow. Death is a difficult situation, regardless of who has passed away, so those working in this industry must understand that they will work directly with emotional and upset people.
Morticians should also have strong planning skills and strong communication skills. Working in this field requires you to keep track of various plans and be flexible in accommodating the needs and requests of clients, as well as requests made by the deceased before their passing. If you have a passion for working with people and providing them with loving compassion during a difficult time, a career as a mortician might be a good option.
Average salary for morticians
Since the death care services industry is a challenging one to work in, most morticians earn a comfortable salary. The average salary for this position across the U.S. is $59,777 per year. Some of the cities that report the highest salaries for funeral directors and morticians include Denver, Colorado; Jacksonville, Florida; Atlanta, Georgia; and King of Prussia, Pennsylvania.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics includes morticians, undertakers and funeral directors in one category for reporting purposes, referred to as funeral service workers. According to their data, the job outlook for those in this field is projected to decline slightly between 2019 and 2029.
Tips for increasing salary as a mortician
If you want to increase your earning potential as a mortician, follow these tips.
Become more experienced
Experience is highly valued in the death care services industry. Those with more experience tend to feel more comfortable interacting with the loved ones of the deceased and know what tasks to complete when planning a funeral and making arrangements. Since death services companies often rely on referrals, a more experienced and trusted mortician might generate more referrals from those who felt comfortable working with that individual at the time of their loved one’s death. As you become more experienced, you may be able to qualify for a higher hourly or annual salary.
Learn all the tasks associated with death care
In some death care companies, workers have clearly defined roles and do not know how to handle other tasks in the process. If you only handle certain parts of the funeral planning or body preparation process, you may be able to increase your earning potential by becoming more well-rounded and learning how to handle other tasks. For example, if your role involves making funeral arrangements, consider getting trained in the process of embalming or makeup application on the deceased. Increasing your skills may help you get a position where you can earn more.
Establish your own facility
If you have experience in death care services, you might consider opening your own business that provides these critical services to those in your community. Before starting a business, you will need a business license and a facility that can house the bodies of the deceased and provide space to prepare them for burial.
Consider a different work location
The location in which you work plays a significant role in your earning potential. This applies to both the company you work for and where you are physically located. In certain states, morticians make more than others, so relocating may increase your earning potential. If you work for a small funeral home, you might earn more by working for a national company or a business that can take on more clients at a time.