There are few professions that are as rewarding as being a funeral director. When a family loses a loved one and is experiencing an incredibly difficult time, they turn to you for assistance. By serving a family, you help honor the legacy of their loved one and allow them to say goodbye. It can be difficult to describe just how rewarding a feeling you get when a family thanks you for all your hard work and help in their time of need. That’s because a funeral director does not just care for the deceased but offers support and guidance for the deceased’s family and friends.
If you’re interested in becoming a funeral director, there are generally three key steps to follow to get started in this career. Note that these steps may vary depending on your state; see NFDA for more information.
Step 1 | Get an Education
As with most careers, you need more than a high school diploma to become a funeral director. With higher education, you develop the necessary skills, knowledge, and life experience to help you excel in your career. It’s no surprise, but as you grow older your life experiences impact and help shape you. By choosing to receive post-secondary education, you’re making the responsible choice to lay the foundation for your future.
What type of education do you need? That depends on the state in which you plan on working, since each state has their own educational requirements to become a funeral director. If you are planning on working in Ohio, you will need a Bachelor’s degree. To meet this state requirement, CCMS offers both an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) and a Bachelor of Mortuary Science (BMS). During the BMS program, students gain real-world experience in our Co-op course and receive certifications to give them an edge over other graduates. Plus, our degrees are accredited, which means you can take your credits to any other college or university in the country!
Since CCMS only offers courses in mortuary science, you’ll need to complete some general education courses elsewhere before enrolling at CCMS. The number of credits you’ll need to complete depends on which of our degrees you’ll be pursuing. It’s very important that you earn your credits from a regionally accredited college/university; we don’t accept credits from non-accredited schools.
Step 2 | Become an Apprentice
An apprenticeship (sometimes called an “internship”) is a critical step on the path to becoming a funeral director. While in school you will learn all the necessary skills and knowledge to become a funeral director. An apprenticeship is when you get to put those skills and knowledge into practice and further develop them.
In most states, the length of your apprenticeship varies from 1-3 years. You can find out more about your state’s licensing requirements here.
During your apprenticeship, you will work under the guidance of a licensed funeral director. This person will serve as a mentor and help guide you through the first steps of your career. As an apprentice, you can expect to assist in funeral arrangements and planning, embalming, office administration, acting as a host at the funeral home, care of the funeral home and vehicles, and much more.
An apprenticeship allows you the opportunity to gain practical experience by continuing to learn after you’re done with school. Learning on the job is when you will truly experience how rewarding a career in the funeral profession is. This is also a time when you can network with other funeral professionals and begin to build professional relationships.
The Job Board section of our website is an excellent resource to utilize when looking for an apprenticeship opportunity.
Step 3 | Pass Your Licensing Exam
One of the most important steps on the road to becoming a funeral director is passing a state and/or national board licensing examination(s). This is when all of your knowledge and experience will be tested. It is necessary to ensure you are capable of completing all the necessary legal documents and procedures to act as a competent funeral director.
Upon successfully passing your licensing exam(s), you will become a fully licensed funeral director. It is important to know that if you move to a different state, you may be required to pass the state board exam or apply to have a reciprocal license issued. Until either of these situations occurs, you will not be able to work as a funeral director in the new state.
Never Stop Learning
Your education doesn’t end after mortuary school! Funeral service professionals are required to participate in continuing education in order to maintain their licensure. Con Ed is also critical for remaining relevant and up-to-date in your career. Fortunately, CCMS is a hub of continuing education for licensees in Ohio and nation-wide, offering seated and online courses. See our Continuing Education page and NFDA for more information on con ed requirements specific to your state.
If you are interested in joining the funeral service profession, CCMS is the place to start your journey. Please feel free to Contact Us if you would like to learn more about our programs and how we can set you up for success.