Funeral director

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Shop window of a funeral director in France

A funeral director, also known as a mortician or undertaker, is a professional involved in the business of funeral rites. These tasks often entail the embalming and burial or cremation of the dead, as well as the planning and arrangement of the actual funeral ceremony. Funeral directors may at times be asked to perform tasks such as dressing (in garments usually suitable for daily wear), casketing (placing the human body in the container), and cossetting (applying any sort of cosmetic or substance to the viewable areas of the person for the purpose of enhancing appearances).

Role in the United States[edit]

In the US, most modern day funeral homes are run as family businesses. The majority of morticians work in these small, independent family run funeral homes. The owner usually hires two or three other morticians to help them. Often, this hired help is in the family, perpetuating the family's ownership. Other firms that were family-owned have been acquired and are operated by large corporations such as Service Corporation International, though such homes usually trade under their pre-acquisition names.[citation needed]

Most funeral homes have one or more viewing rooms, a preparation room for embalming, a chapel, and a casket selection room. They usually have a hearse for transportation of bodies, a flower car, and limousines. They also normally sell caskets and urns.[1]

Organizations and licensing in the United States[edit]

In the United States, the individual states each have their own licensing regulations for funeral directors. Most require a combination of post-secondary education (typically an associate's degree), passage of a National Board Examination,[2] passage of a state board examination, and one to two years' work as an apprentice.[3]

Employment opportunities[edit]

Mortuary science graduates may have to relocate to find jobs.[1]

In media[edit]

The TV series Six Feet Under is about a family-owned funeral home and the family's life.


  1. ^ a b "Funeral Directors." Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2006-07 Edition. 4 Aug, 2006. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. 8 Dec, 2008. <>
  2. ^, Students' NBE
  3. ^ American Board of Funeral Service Education, Frequently Asked Questions

External links[edit]