Undertakers arrange funerals at the direction of the deceased person's family members or by previous instructions from the person who has died. Also called a funeral director, the undertaker submits paperwork to the state to obtain a formal death certificate, and may send death notices or obituaries to newspapers. Undertakers typically are also licensed embalmers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Most undertakers earn at least $40,000 per year as of 2010.
The average salary for undertakers as of May 2010 was $30.04 per hour, or $62,490 per year, reports the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The middle 50 percent earn $19.25 to $35.06 per hour, or $40,050 to $72,920 per year. The bottom 10 percent have salaries at or below $29,930 per year, and the top 10 percent are making $98,820 per year and more. The salary data does not include the approximately 13 percent of undertakers who were self-employed in 2010.
New Jersey was the top-paying state for undertakers in 2010, where these professionals earned $85,600 per year on average. Other high-paying states for undertakers were Massachusetts, with an average annual salary of $82,200, New York at $81,270, Michigan at $73,410 and California at $73,210.
High-Paying Metro Areas
The top-paying metropolitan area for undertakers was the greater Newark-Union region of New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Their average salary was $105,420 per year. Other high-paying metro areas for undertakers were the Boston-Cambridge-Quincy region of Massachusetts, with an average annual salary of $101,280; the greater New York City area at $100,950; the Warren-Troy-Farmington Hills region of Michigan at $100,530; and Peoria, Illinois, at $91,190.
Job growth in the undertaker profession should be as fast as the average for all occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In addition, the average age of undertakers currently is higher than that of most occupations, and many will likely retire between 2008 and 2018. Turnover occurs in this profession due to irregular work hours.