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|The examples and perspective in this article deal primarily with the United States and do not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (December 2010)|
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 cosmetizing (applying any sort of cosmetic or substance to the viewable areas of the person for the purpose of enhancing appearances).
"Undertaker" is a term that was used overseas, technically today there is no such thing. They owned funeral homes and furniture stores, where the casket was sold.
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.
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.
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, passage of a state board examination, and one to two years' work as an apprentice.
The TV series Six Feet Under is about a family-owned funeral home and the family's life.
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