How to Become a Funeral Director in Kentucky

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Funeral directors in Kentucky complete an apprenticeship and take a licensing exam.
Funeral directors in Kentucky complete an apprenticeship and take a licensing exam. (Image: Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

Funeral directors provide services related to undertaking, including preparing dead bodies for burial, cremation and helping families plan services. In Kentucky, funeral directors must undergo extensive educational and on-the-job training and take exams before they can practice their profession. The Kentucky Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors oversees the funeral services industry in the state.

Earn a high school diploma or its equivalent. Earn an associate degree in funeral services from an accredited university or college. The American Board of Funeral Service Education (abfse.org) has a list of accredited programs on its website.

Apply for an embalming apprenticeship program at a licensed funeral home or embalming service. During the program, apprentices must assist in embalming at least 25 bodies under the supervision of a licensed embalmer. Potential apprentices must submit an application to the state funeral board along with college transcripts and a fee. Applications must include the signature of the supervising funeral director. Funeral homes are required to spend at least 40 hours per week training apprentices.

Apply for a Level II apprenticeship in embalming and funeral services and pay the application fee. After a potential funeral director competes at least six months of their first apprenticeship and fulfilled the embalming quota, they can apply for this second phase of on-the-job training. A level II program allows one to perform embalming duties without supervision and also satisfy requirements for a funeral service apprenticeship for those who want to be funeral directors.

Submit the Level II apprenticeship application to the state. Applications must include the signature of the funeral director supervisor. Funeral directors are required to complete at least three consecutive years as an apprentice. The completion of an associate’s degree can be substituted in place of two of those years.

Apply to take the funeral director exam after completing the level II apprenticeship. The application must include a list of all apprenticeship locations, the signature of a licensed embalmer and the signature of a licensed funeral director. Applications must be notarized.

Take and pass the funeral director exams. Exams include the National Board exam created by the International Conference of Funeral Service Examining Boards (theconferenceonline.org), a written test on the funeral laws of Kentucky and an oral exam that tests embalming knowledge. The state offers these exams four months of the year: March, June, September and December.

Follow board regulations for opening a funeral service business including embalming facilities, equipment, viewing areas, advertising, casket pricing, burial containers, signage and obituary publication as outlined in Chapter 15 of the Kentucky Administrative Regulations. Funeral homes must undergo state inspections before opening for business.

Tips & Warnings

  • Apprentices must submit semi-annual reports to the state board detailing their hours worked, number of embalmings completed and the number of funerals in which they participated as assistants.
  • Applicants for funeral director's licenses must pass a criminal background check and must not have any felonies on their record or misdemeanors related to funeral services.
  • Licenses must be renewed every year and funeral directors must take continuing education classes to keep their license valid.

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