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How to Become a Funeral Director

High school students can prepare for a job as a funeral director by taking courses in biology and chemistry and by participating in public speaking. Part-time or summer jobs in funeral homes also are good experience.

An associate’s degree in mortuary science is the minimum educational requirement. All funeral directors must be licensed by the state in which they work. 

Education and Training

Funeral directors must have at least an associate’s degree in mortuary science. A growing number of employers, however, prefer applicants to have a bachelor’s degree.

The American Board of Funeral Service Education (ABFSE) accredits 57 mortuary science programs, most of which are 2-year associate’s degree programs offered at community colleges. About 9 programs give a bachelor’s degree.

In all mortuary science programs, students take courses in ethics, grief counseling, funeral service, and business law. All AFSBE-accredited programs also include embalming and restorative techniques courses. 

Funeral directors must complete hands-on training under the direction of a licensed funeral director, usually lasting 1 to 3 years. The apprenticeship may be completed before, during, or after completing a mortuary program.


All states require funeral directors to be licensed. Licensing laws vary by state, but most applicants should

Applicants must then pass a qualifying exam. Working in multiple states may require multiple licenses. For specific requirements, applicants should contact their state licensing board.

Most states require funeral directors to receive continuing education credits to keep their licenses.

Important Qualities

Compassion. Death is a delicate and emotional matter. Funeral directors must be able to treat clients with care and sympathy in their time of loss.

Interpersonal skills. Funeral directors should have good interpersonal skills. When speaking with families, for instance, they must be tactful and able to explain and discuss all matters about services that are needed or expected.

Time-management skills. Funeral directors must be able to handle numerous tasks for multiple customers, often in a short period.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition