It can be said that the funeral business, as a whole, is at least 50 years behind the times at any given point. Probably the last time you heard about a profession that trains its practitioners with a master/apprentice relationship was in history class: Blacksmiths, leathersmiths, any other varient ending in -smith. I believe I heard once that lawyers still practice the master/apprentice model as well.
March 25 is the 6-month mark for my year-long funeral director/embalmer duel license apprenticeship.
This post is going to be an expansion of the previous sentence to illustrate the process by which someone gets a funeral director and/or embalmers license. As such, it’s going to be kind of dry so I apologize. But! If you’re actually interested in becoming part of the field, this will help point you in the right direction.
A lot of people don’t know that you have to be licensed to be a funeral director and/or embalmer. Another thing that a lot of people don’t know is that the funeral business is heavily regulated by seemingly everyone…. except the federal government. The Feds are the only one who don’t want to stick their fingers into the pie of death. (Pie of Death – similar to Poisonous Magic Pie as seen in Venture Brothers s01ep05 “A Poisonous Magic Pie”)
Every state has different laws governing the practice of funeral directing or embalming but there are several national organizations that also govern the ways things are done on the whole. For example, every licensed individual has to have the minimum requirement of an associate’s degree in mortuary science; Ohio and Minnesota are (currently) the only two states that require a bachelor’s. To achieve that degree, you have to go through special schooling at a mortuary science college, pass the national exams, and of course, graduate. As a depressing sidenote, any of this can become easier or harder depending on your connections within the funeral service industry – this has been my experience, anyway. (Without naming names, I watched a member of my class graduate and receive a diploma even after she had failed the national exams. Favouritism exists everywhere, unfortunately.)
Okay, so you have your degree but you’re still not licensed. In-between those two actions, you must first complete an apprenticeship. The length of the apprenticeship is determined by what kind of license(s) you’re going to be receiving. Some people only want to be licensed in funeral directing, others only in embalming, some in both. I figure, why not both?
I was extremely fortunate enough to be hired into a funeral home directly out of school and began my apprenticeship shortly thereafter. I should mention, too, that being hired for an apprenticeship is not the same as being hired for a job since there is a known termination date. Funeral homes can choose to re-hire you as part of their staff after you’re licensed but they can also choose to be done with you. In this sense, apprenticeships are kind of nice for both parties because it gives you a trial time with each other to determine if you’re a good fit.
So my apprenticeship is one year long and I have to fill out lots of paperwork detailing particular cases in either funeral directing or embalming. I then mail that paperwork in my state board organization and they review it. Yesterday, I went in for my 6-month interview which consisted of a meeting with a member of the Board as well as a member of the public. They asked me questions about what basically amounts to my daily occurrences to make sure that I’m learning what I need to learn during this year so that I can handle myself once I’m licensed.
Alright. This post is boring so I’m going to quickly re-cap on the licensing process:
1. Go to mortuary science school.
2. Pass the National Board Exams.
4. Acquire an apprenticeship with a funeral home.
5. Turn in your paperwork on time, go through the 6-month interview process, etc.
6. Terminate your apprenticeship after the allot time is up.
7. Take and pass your state board exams.
8. Acquire license.
9. Huzzah! You are not a failure!
I’ll field any questions about this topic, it’s just so boring to me that I want to stop writing this post.