Anatomy of a Successful Funeral Director

March 12, 2019
Student working on Restorative Art project.
Student working on Restorative Art project.

As the first and oldest mortuary college in the country, we’ve helped thousands of death care professionals go on to have fulfilling, successful careers. With more than 8,000 alumni and 12 Presidents of the National Funeral Directors Association, we’ve seen firsthand what it takes to succeed in the funeral profession.

It’s important to make the most of your time at CCMS. The skills, contacts, and traits you develop here will go a long way in helping you find opportunities down the road. Below are a few other suggestions – for future students, current students, and everyone in the profession. As a shortcut, think of these as the 4 H’s: hands, heart, hear, head.

Students in a class

Get Hands on

Here at CCMS, we believe that hands-on experience is the best way to prepare future death care professionals. One of the big advantages CCMS has over other mortuary schools is our on-site labs, including 7 embalming stations, Gross Dissection Lab, and Restorative Arts Lab. The fact that our labs are right here on-campus means you will receive unparalleled experience in the clinical arts and sciences. All students spend time in our Clinical Lab and Restorative Art Lab, learning skills and techniques in embalming and facial restoration. We embalm approximately 500 cases each year. Our Bachelor of Mortuary Science students also spend time in our Gross Dissection Lab. Having taken embalming classes for 3 semesters, Gross Anatomy gives our B.M.S. students the chance to put all of their knowledge together.

In addition, we offer our students paid positions as Lab Assistants and Night Intake Assistants, and students can volunteer for additional experience in our lab during weekends and holidays. Many of our students live and work in local funeral homes during their time at CCMS and enjoy the experience of working in the profession while attending school. Coming in 2020, students will gain a whole new level of experience in our Educational Cremation Center!

Student participating in Celebrant training
Student participating in Celebrant training

Let Your Heart Get Creative

Having a strong knowledge of funeral rites and ceremonies is also very important. Especially if you work at a firm that frequently serves families from different religions and/or cultures. Having this knowledge can also reassure the family that they are working with someone who is experienced and can plan the service they want. Along with knowledge of traditional religious or cultural rites, creativity and a willingness to innovate is important. Today more than ever, many families want a personalized funeral service. To meet this need, our B.M.S. students complete Insight Certified Celebrant™ training. Celebrants are becoming increasingly popular in today’s diverse communities, including those families who opt for a secular tribute without a clergy officiant. Graduates emerge prepared to offer funeral and memorial services, or tributes that are personalized and individualized to reflect the personality and life-style of the deceased.

The Ears Have it: Hearing Vital for Counseling Skills

It is inevitable that families will turn to you for advice on how to cope with their grief. One of the goals of a funeral director is to provide opportunities to promote healthy grieving. Classes such as Psychology of Grief and Aftercare help students understand the psychology of loss, grieving, and mourning, and help students develop skills to assist families through the entire grief process. Our students also receive plenty of practice in communication and active listening throughout their time at CCMS, including during the conducting of mock funerals in the Capstone project and when completing their funeral director requirements.

President Lechner meeting prospective students during an Open House
President Lechner meeting prospective students during an Open House

Put Your Head into it: Network Every Day

President Lechner meeting prospective students during an Open House

They say that a large percentage of employment opportunities aren’t advertised. It’s all about who you know. That’s why networking is so important – especially for new graduates entering the workforce. You might not realize it now, but when a future opportunity arises, someone you met today could be the person who refers you for that opportunity tomorrow.

At CCMS, we provide you with many opportunities to network, including field trips, conventions, presentations by funeral service professionals, serving Co-ops, and interaction with CCMS alumni. When you graduate from CCMS and begin your apprenticeship, you get to work with death care professionals. Your peers, faculty, administration, and alumni are all valuable connections. Think about it, the more people who know you, even as an acquaintance, the more chances you have to learn about career opportunities. Our placement rate is 93% and our graduation rate is 96%!

We Can Help You Get There

If you really want to have a long, successful career as a funeral director, your education is where you build the foundation. Each of the traits and skills discussed above can be learned. Our students are fortunate to have the opportunities to develop these skills through our mortuary science program, and our alumni can continue sharpening their expertise through our range of continuing education events.

To learn more about our mortuary science program and how we can set you up to be a successful funeral director, contact us today to learn more. Most funeral students look no further than their local options. Look local and then come visit CCMS; when you compare your options we’re confident you’ll want to make the right investment in your education.