Morticians, often referred to as funeral directors or undertakers, assist families of the deceased by coordinating the details of a funeral. While it can be emotionally taxing at times, a mortician does some of the most rewarding work a person can ever do. Morticians provide support and care during a time when people need it most.
Of course, becoming a mortician is not for the faint of heart. If you are considering a mortician degree, but wondering if you are cut-out for the job, read on. Below we dive into what it takes to be a successful mortician in the field – and the signs that show you are ready to launch a mortuary science career.
- You want to work with people.
Many people believe that morticians only work with the dead, but the truth is, they often (and at times, more often) work with the living. Morticians and funeral directors work closely with the family and friends of the deceased. They offer comfort and consolation to those in need, and help them make arrangements for their loved one’s funeral and wake.
If you are good with people and a strong communicator, a mortuary science degree and career may just be for you. The best morticians are those who enjoy leading people, teaching people, and helping people in need. They also have great interpersonal skills. When speaking with family members, for example, a mortician should be clear, yet tactful and considerate, about the services provided.
- You are compassionate and empathetic, when people need it most.
Morticians and funeral service managers, in many ways, are a lot like grief counselors. So, in addition to being a people-person, you must also be a good listener and empathetic towards people. You will be helping them through some of the most difficult times in their lives.
If you have considered a career in social work or therapy, it makes sense you are also considering a mortician degree. Death is a delicate and emotional matter, and morticians work closely with those who are mourning. As a mortician, you must be able to listen to what your clients are feeling, treat them with sympathy and care, and validate their feelings, while providing support, during their time of loss.
- You are organized and good at planning.
Part of a mortician career is counseling, but the mainstay of the career is event planning. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Funeral directors and morticians plan the details of a funeral.” This includes everything from preparing obituary notices to arranging day-of services like transportation. They help determine the place, date, and time of the funeral, the wake, and the memorial services.
In addition to working with grieving family members, many morticians and funeral directors will work with clients who are planning ahead for their own funerals, to ensure their needs are met.
- You have a passion for the sciences.
A mortician career revolves around the sciences (mortuary sciences, to be exact). That said, you should be interested in topics like anatomy and physiology prior to pursuing this career. A mortician degree program will cover subjects such as human biology, microbiology, thanato-chemistry, and the psychology of death. You can read about some of the specific funeral service classes at Goodwin here.
- You also have the know-how to run a business.
If you took a look at the mortuary science curriculum above, you’ll notice that it isn’t all science. That’s because morticians wear many hats. In addition to being a counselor, event-planner, and a science expert (i.e. embalmer), morticians must also have a number of business skills. They must be able to carry out administrative duties such as submitting paperwork, meeting and managing client needs, organizing personal records, and more. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, morticians can also be found applying for the transfer of insurance policies, as well as any pensions/annuities, on behalf of survivors.
- Death, or specifically, dead bodies, do not scare you.
There is no doubt that the notion of death sparks a little fear in everyone. It’s an unknown. Yet for some morticians and funeral service professionals, death becomes a bit more normalized. As a mortician, you can expect to work with the deceased as part of your job, embalming bodies (i.e. preserving them for viewing) in preparation for the funeral services.
Morticians do not fear the bodies they work with, but instead pay respect to them through their work. As one mortician put it in her interview with Bustle, “I focus on the body as a memory of their life… I still see them as people. They aren’t alive, clearly, but they still have people who love them and a life they’ve left behind, and you are the last person who will care for them. I know I do good, important work.”
- You are physically and emotionally fit.
Are you physically fit for a mortician job? Morticians are on their feet for much of their day. In preparing for funerals, they may help in carrying caskets and moving flower arrangements. Behind-the-scenes, they may also lift and move bodies as part of their embalming work. In addition, morticians can occasionally work long hours or be on-call with local hospitals, so it’s important to be ready for these types of physical demands at any hour.
Are you emotionally prepared for a mortician career? Morticians work with grieving families and their deceased loved ones, which can – at times – be dark and sorrowful. That is why they say mortician careers are not for the faint of heart. However, if you have a sound mind (and a way to unwind at the end of the workday), a mortician career is a great option for you. Morticians must be calm, patient, understanding, stable, and fully able to separate their emotions from their job.
If you’ve checked off the items listed above, there is no doubt you have what it takes to become a mortician. Now you just need to check the education and certification requirements off your to-do. In Connecticut, morticians must have at least an associate degree in a related field, such as a mortuary science degree, before entering the field. You can learn more about the specific requirements here.
To learn how to get started on your mortician degree in Connecticut, please do not hesitate to contact Goodwin College at 800-889-3282. You may also learn more about our funeral service school online.
Goodwin College is a nonprofit institution of higher education and is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Goodwin College was founded in 1999, with the goal of serving a diverse student population with career-focused degree programs that lead to strong employment outcomes.