How to Get an Apprenticeship in Mortuary Science

Becoming a funeral director takes education and training in an apprenticeship.
Becoming a funeral director takes education and training in an apprenticeship. (Image: Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

Mortuary science is a critical field, but it's one that does not attract a large number of people. Funeral directors, or morticians, not only handle bodies for burial but they also work with the deceased’s loved ones to plan a funeral. This makes the job of a funeral director an emotionally draining job that requires a strong stomach and a great deal of compassion and tact. Funeral directors must complete a training program that includes an apprenticeship before they can earn their state license. Schools do not typically get mortuary science students their apprenticeships; students must find one for themselves.

Graduate high school with good grades, and focus on classes in the sciences. Since solid ethics are a part of the mortuary sciences field, you should keep a clean record with the law. If high school is in your past, don't fret. You'll just have some makeup work to do.

Attend and complete a state-approved mortuary science program. These programs last for between two and four years, depending on the attendee’s state laws. Featured classes include ones on anatomy, pathology, physiology, psychology, embalming, grief counseling, law, ethics, restorative art and business.

Check with your state’s apprenticeship program for possible leads on apprenticeships. Most states require a one- to three-year apprenticeship as part of the licensing process, which may include performing a minimum number of embalmings. Some states help those needing an apprenticeship to find a sponsor.

Speak with professional organizations such as the National Funeral Directors Association, National Funeral Directors and Morticians Association and the various state funeral directors associations. Many collect and post job openings and may know of a funeral director who is qualified and willing to take on an apprentice. They can also give advice on the best way to look for an apprenticeship.

Contact funeral directors, funeral homes and mortuaries in your state and ask if they are accepting apprenticeships. The apprenticeship sponsor must be a licensed funeral director who will provide both instruction and supervision. Most apprenticeships take place after some or all of mortuary education is complete, though a few states allow students to complete their apprenticeships prior to starting school.

Tips & Warnings

  • After your education and apprenticeship is complete, you must apply for and receive your state license to be able to practice as a funeral director in your state. This may entail passing an exam.

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