1. Funeral Directors are not educated or licensed.
False. Funeral Directors in most states need a minimum of two years of college or Mortuary College to apply for a Funeral Director’s license. Some states require two licenses; a Funeral Director’s license and an Embalming license. Then, there is usually an apprenticeship and/or internship –many times unpaid for six months to a year before they can actually work in a funeral home and earn a paycheck. They must also earn continuing education credits on an ongoing basis just like nurses, teachers and other professionals. Many attend trade shows and conventions also to learn about new techniques and new products to offer their families.
2. Most Funeral Directors are older men.
False. In years past, most Funeral Directors were male and many inherited the business from their fathers and grandfathers. In recent years, that trend has changed. As of 2011, 57% of all graduates of Mortuary College were female and predominately young. The number is probably closer to 65% in the year 2013 and continues to rise. There are also a large number of women over 40 yrs. who are choosing to become Funeral Directors after they raise their families or as a mid-life career change. These women are making the choice to spend the rest of their professional lives caring for others in their time of need, not for monetary gain.
3. Funeral Directors view this profession as a business with a high potential income.
False. Most Funeral Directors enter this field just as they would enter any service profession such as teaching, nursing, police work or social work – to help people. Their singular goal is to assist grieving families and to make sure that their loved one’s funeral service is dignified and appropriate to the family’s wishes.
Funeral services on average have only about a 12% profit margin, so people entering this profession do not do it for the money. Salaries are only between $20,000 and $55,000 average nationwide. It’s a living but not a lucrative one.
4. Funeral Directors are introverted and not sociable types.
False. Funeral Directors are Soccer Moms, Basketball Coaches, Girl Scout Leaders, Scrap bookers, Fisherman, Artists, Singers, etc. They are as sociable as any other group of people. You might sit next to them in church, exchange small talk at the supermarket, serve with them on the PTA or bowl with them. They do all the same things as you do and they have excellent people skills. They deal with people at their worst, every day. Yes, there are “funeralzillas”. But, just like wedding planners, Funeral Directors take it in their stride. Imagine planning and coordinating every aspect of a wedding in less than three days? Well, Funeral Directors plan and coordinate just as many tasks, in the midst of profound sadness and grief. Funeral service is a very stressful job and the hours could not be worse.
5. Funeral Directors work regular hours and take weekends and holidays off.
False. Unlike weddings, people don’t die on a schedule. Funeral Directors get calls from hospitals, hospices, morgues and families at all hours of the day and night, seven days a week. Death never takes a holiday and neither do they. Most Funeral Directors eat Thanksgiving dinner ready to leave their families at a moment’s notice, should the phone ring. You think it’s difficult to get someone to cover for your vacation? Try being a Funeral Director. Only a colleague you can trust and has the same skill set can cover for you. Not an easy task.
Funeral Directors deal with death and sadness every day of their career. They are there to assist families in the worst moments of their lives; when they’ve lost a mother, father, sibling, or their young child. They take families through the grief process towards the light of a new day. They offer grief resources after the funeral service. They know that grief will still be there after family and friends have gone home.
They spend their professional lives in service to families, like you, because just like you, they lose loved ones too.
Nancy Burban 2013
Nancy Burban 2013