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Funeral Director

Funeral directors take charge of caring for the remains of people who have died, help families plan funeral services, and co-ordinate and manage arrangements for services.

Also Known As:Mortician, Undertaker
NOC Number(s):6272.1
Minimum Education:1 year post-secondary education/training
Employment Outlook:Job openings generated due to employment turnover. Occupational outlook currently unavailable.
Interests:D S M

Duties | Working Conditions | Personal Characteristics | Education | Related Legislation | Employment | Salary | Other Information | Related Occupations | Related School Subjects | Related Field of Study

Duties

Funeral directors co-ordinate the work involved in bringing the deceased to the funeral home and making all the necessary arrangements for a funeral service. In general, they:

  • provide information about funeral service options, products and merchandise
  • maintain a casket display area
  • prepare funeral service contracts
  • arrange funeral services according to the social or religious practices of the people involved
  • help bereaved families with immediate legal, social and emotional concerns
  • arrange for the time and place of funerals
  • contact religious leaders
  • file death certificates, obtain burial permits, contact the cemetery
  • prepare obituary notices for newspapers
  • arrange transportation for mourners, pallbearers and religious leaders 
  • oversee the conduct of funeral services.

Working Conditions

Funeral directors sometimes work long, irregular hours that may include many evenings and weekends. They work both indoors and outdoors regardless of weather conditions.

Heavy lifting over 20 kilograms is required.


Personal Characteristics

Since they work in an atmosphere of grief and bereavement, funeral directors need the following characteristics:

  • maturity
  • emotional stability
  • compassion
  • tact
  • sensitivity to the needs of the people they serve.

They should enjoy supervising people and co-ordinating information, consulting with families, and having clear rules and organized methods to guide their activities.


Educational Requirements

Funeral directors need good business, organizational, interpersonal and communication skills. Those considering this occupation should discuss their education options with practicing funeral directors before enrolling in a program. The following institutions offer related post-secondary education programs.

In Alberta, the Mount Royal University Faculty of Continuing Education offers an 1800 hour, part time/distance Funeral Director Extension Certificate program and an 1800 hour, full-time/blended or part-time/distance Funeral Director and Embalmer Extension Certificate program. The entrance requirement for either program is a high school diploma or equivalent. Biology 30 and Chemistry 30, or equivalents, are strongly recommended. Applicants must have completed Mount Royal's Introduction to Funeral Service course or have 14 to 20 hours of documented work or volunteer experience in a funeral home.

In Dauphin, Manitoba, the Canadian College of Funeral Service offers online distance learning programs including periodic workshops and seminars held in Alberta in a classroom setting. Three options are offered:

  • a two year Embalmer Licensure program. Applicants must be at least 18 years of age, have a high school diploma or equivalent and two letters of reference, and be sponsored by a licensed embalmer.
  • a two year Funeral Director and Embalmer Licensure program. Applicants must be at least 18 years of age, have a high school diploma or equivalent and two letters of reference, and be sponsored by a licensed funeral director and embalmer.
  • a 10 month Funeral Service Foundation program for people who are not sponsored or employed by funeral homes. The entrance requirement is a high school diploma or equivalent and two letters of reference.

Continuing education programs may be offered on an as needed basis.

For current information about programs, admission requirements and mature student admission policies, please check post-secondary calendars or websites.


Related Legislation

Under Alberta's Funeral Services Act and General Regulation, funeral directors, embalmers, business managers and pre-need salespersons must be licensed through the Alberta Funeral Services Regulatory Board (AFSRB). A license is not required to work as a funeral attendant under the supervision of a licensed embalmer or funeral director.

Section revised December 2011

Employment and Advancement

Funeral directors work in funeral homes located throughout the province. The Alberta Funeral Service Association helps people interested in training as funeral directors to find potential employers. Re-location to a smaller, rural community may be required.

Self-employment is an option that requires a large capital investment to purchase or establish a well furnished funeral home.

Funeral directors may use their business skills to transfer into related occupations. Many funeral directors are licensed embalmers as well.

Funeral directors are part of the larger National Occupational Classification 6272: Funeral Directors and Embalmers. In Alberta, most people employed in this classification work in the Repair, Personal, Religious and Other Services industry.

The employment outlook in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the Repair, Personal, Religious and Other Service industry)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • size of the occupation.

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Section revised November 2011

Salary

Funeral directors' earnings vary depending on location and ownership of the funeral home.

According to the 2011 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans in the Funeral Directors and Embalmers occupational group earned on average from $19.01 to $28.82 an hour. The mean wage for this group was $25.06 an hour.

For more detailed information, see WAGEinfo.

Section revised February 2012

Other Sources of Information

Post-secondary institution calendars and websites (see Educational Requirements above)

EDinfo website: www.alis.alberta.ca/edinfo

Alberta Funeral Service Association (AFSA) website: www.afsa.ab.ca

Alberta Funeral Service Regulatory Board (AFSRB) website: www.afsrb.ab.ca


Related Occupational Profiles
Embalmer
Funeral Attendant

Related High School Subjects
Business, Administration, Finance and Information Technology (Management and Marketing); and Science (Biology; and Chemistry)

Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
Personal and Food Services

Produced June 2011
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For more information on career planning, occupations and educational programs, visit the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website at alis.alberta.ca, call the Alberta Career Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-661-3753 or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

The information contained in this profile was current as of the dates shown. Salaries, employment outlook and educational programs may change. Please check the information before making any career decisions.


Government of Alberta, Human Services