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Embalmer

Embalmers prepare the remains of people who have died for public visitation and burial.

Also Known As:Mortician, Undertaker
NOC Number(s):6272.2
Minimum Education:1 year post-secondary education/training
Employment Outlook:Job openings generated due to employment turnover. Occupational outlook currently unavailable.
Interests:M O d

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

Duties

Embalmers care for deceased persons with dignity and respect. In general, they:

  • embalm human remains to restore, preserve and disinfect them
  • perform necessary cosmetology or restorative work to improve appearance
  • dress deceased persons and place them in caskets
  • maintain records, arrange equipment and assist in the general maintenance of the funeral home.

Embalmers also may supervise funeral attendants or other funeral home staff.


Working Conditions

Embalmers must follow the health precautions and regulations required for personal and public hygiene. Most of their work is done under surgical conditions in a preparation room.

In larger funeral homes, embalmers work normal office hours plus some evening work. In small establishments, they may work longer hours or be required to pick up deceased persons at any hour.

Some heavy lifting over 20 kilograms is required.


Personal Characteristics

Embalmers need the following characteristics:

  • physical strength and endurance
  • good finger and manual dexterity
  • emotional stability
  • an interest in clinical, scientific and artistic subjects
  • a caring attitude toward the deceased and the bereaved.

They should enjoy work with clear rules and organized methods; working with tools, equipment and instruments at tasks which require precision; and finding ways to restore bodies to as natural an appearance as possible.


Educational Requirements

Prospective embalmers should discuss training options with practicing funeral directors or embalmers 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 a 450 hour, part-time/distance Embalmer 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.

Based 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

Embalmers are employed in funeral homes across the province. Licensed embalmers may train to become funeral directors (for more information, see the Funeral Director profile).

Embalmers 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 Services 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. However, demand for embalming services is declining because more people are choosing cremation.

Section revised October 2011

Salary

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
Funeral Attendant
Funeral Director

Related High School Subjects
Health, Recreation and Human Services (Health Care Services); and Science (Biology)

Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
Personal and Food Services

Produced June 2011
Top of Profile

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