How to Start a Career as a Funeral Director

Are you considering a career as a funeral director? If you have a desire to help others and a respect for memorial services, then you may find personal fulfillment as a funeral director knowing you have helped families during their most difficult time.

According to, the demand for morticians, undertakers and funeral arrangers is expected to rise. The need is there, and there are resources available to help you learn more and start on the path to serving in the funeral profession.

But where do you start? You might start by first researching this career path to ensure it is the right fit for you. The National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) has information about working in funeral service. State associations offer even more specific information about licensing requirements and opportunities to connect with funeral professionals. Learn from a funeral director about their experiences and how funeral service might align with your interests. You could also reach out to mortuary colleges for additional resources.

Like most professions, becoming a funeral director involves a combination of education and experience. You must also obtain the applicable licensing, which varies by state. First, review the examinations and laws for your state, and then follow these steps.

Complete your education

In many cases, a licensed funeral director must complete an associate’s degree at an accredited funeral service or mortuary science education program. There are schools across the country offering on-site and remote coursework. Do some research to identify the right fit for you and contact the programs to get started on the admissions process.

There are many scholarships available for students pursuing a career in funeral services including these resources from the National Funeral Directors Association, and the Funeral Service Foundation Scholarship Program. Homesteaders is proud to help support the Funeral Service Foundation’s efforts to prepare the next generation of funeral service leaders for success in the profession.

Complete an apprenticeship

Often, before taking your exam and obtaining your license, you must first complete an apprenticeship. Again, each state has different rules for this, including about the amount of apprenticeship experience required, so check with your state’s licensing board for more information.

Some states allow mortuary science students to complete their apprenticeship while attending school, but others require the apprenticeship to occur after graduation. Work out a schedule that will fit your needs while maintaining a proper balance along the way.

If you are looking for a funeral home to complete your apprenticeship then consider networking at your state funeral director convention.

Obtain your funeral license

Once you have completed your education and apprenticeship you are ready to take a state or national exam to officially obtain your license.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, most states require applicants meet the following criteria:

  • Be 21 years old.
  • Complete an American Board of Funeral Service Education (ABFSE) accredited funeral service or mortuary science education program.
  • Pass a state and/or national board exam.
  • Serve an internship lasting one to three years.

The International Conference of Funeral Service Examining Boards (ICFSEB) administers a National Board Examination (NBE) to evaluate the knowledge needed to become a licensed funeral director or embalmer. After completing your training, you will have real-world experience to bring to your exam.

Maintain your license

Once you are a licensed funeral director, you can expect your educational journey to continue. Funeral professionals in many states are required to complete continuing education hours to maintain their licensure. This training will also help keep you up to date on best practices and offer new insights into how you can better serve families and grow your skills.

Homesteaders proudly offers a variety of continuing education courses throughout the year. These convenient online programs are available for funeral director and/or insurance credit in many states. View our continuing education schedule to learn more and sign up.

Subscribe to the Homesteaders BlogGet the latest funeral service tips and insights delivered to your inbox.