Embalming is a part of mortuary science that deals specifically with the preparation and presentation of the recently deceased. It is important to remember that the individual that you are working on is someone’s mother, father, brother, sister, child, or friend. The respect that you pay to your work will pass on as respect to the family that is left behind. You will likely work in a funeral home and may work as a funeral director as well as an embalmer. Embalming is far from a simple job, but for the right person, it can be a rewarding career that can give you a lifetime of helping those when they most need it.
What to Expect from an Embalming School
As an embalmer you will be working with those that died from natural causes frequently, but you will also work on people that died well before their time. Children, those that lost their battle with cancer, trauma, motor vehicle accidents and a long list of other unnatural ways of passing from this life will all be part of your daily expectations. You will need to have the stomach to face these challenges. Even though you may not know a child, or an individual that died before their time, you will need to be the strong shoulder that the family can lean on as they decide how best to send their loved one off.
While there will be positions as an embalmer that keep you out of contact with families, it is much more likely that you will need to have the communication and empathetic abilities required to speak with families and friends about a very difficult subject. You will not be an investigator, instead you will be the person that prepares a body for viewing by a family. Some cases may lead to a close casket, but the true reward comes from a family changing their mind after seeing what you have done with their loved one and ask for an open casket viewing. Respect, empathy and the ability to work in a very somber environment will be key to your success.
Moving Into the Embalming Field
Each state regulates the practice of mortuary science in a unique way. You will need to speak with advisors at the school of your choice to ensure that you are meeting the state requirements for mortuary science. Licensing is key to entering the field and finding a school that is accredited by the American Board of Funeral Service Education (ABFSE) will be key. The curriculum will be approved by the board and ensure that your education is preparing you for the task at hand. You should expect to learn all aspects of the career which will include embalming and funeral directing. In addition, the International Conference of Funeral Service Examining Boards (CFSEB) will administer the national examination at the conclusion of your education for licensure.
Employment Hotspots and Income
As an embalmer you will likely want to work in a state that is seeking highly trained professionals. The five states that have the highest employment level for embalmers are California with .03 per thousand jobs, Texas with .04 per thousand jobs, Illinois with .07 per thousand jobs, Georgia with .11 per thousand jobs and Florida with .03 per thousand jobs. You can expect a median income of around $45,000 to $55,000 a year in the field, will Illinois ranking highest among the listed states at $53,000 a year.
If income is the most important part of your career, consider these top five states for mortuary income. Minnesota offers an average of just under $70,000 a year, Connecticut offers almost $61,000 a year, Illinois as mentioned previous offers $53,000 a year, as does Maryland. Finally, Iowa offers embalmers an average income of just under $50,000 a year. Expect plenty of job opportunities in the field, but understand that this is not a field like nursing or computer science that is seeing a boom in growth. You may need to network and set your expectations fairly as you start applying for positions. You will not go a long period without finding work, but it is likely that you will need to apply to more than one employer to find work in a reasonable time. You can find more specific information on BLS.gov.
Keep in mind that you can start you own funeral home as your education will train you as a funeral director and embalmer. With some business classes you can learn the basics to making the most of your investment and start-up and create a welcoming environment that will be appreciated by those that are going through a very difficult time. You may not want to jump right into the field, as experience is important, but it is a consideration and your income can vary drastically based on your success as a business owner.
Schools Offering Embalming & Mortuary Science Programs
Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science
Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science has been setting the standard in mortuary science education since 1882 making it the nation’s oldest educational facility of its kind. It is committed to providing a challenging and comprehensive education with a complete focus on all aspects of the funeral industry as well as preparation for licensure. You will find multiple programs to pursue which include an Association of Applied Science degree that can be completed in 12 months or a Bachelor of Mortuary Science Degree which can be completed in 15 months as long as prior college transfer credits are included.
Worsham College of Mortuary Science
Founded in 1911, Worsham College of Mortuary Science offers an Associated Degree in as little as 12 moths. With students from all 50 states and many foreign countries you will be exposed to a diverse student body that will open your eyes to the world in a new way. This preparation will ensure that you are prepared to meet with the wide variety of clients that you can expect throughout your career. The Colleges is approved by The Illinois Board of Higher Education, The British Institute of Embalmers, The Department of Professional Regulations, The Department of Vocational Rehabilitation, The State Approving Agency for the Training of Veterans and is authorized to under federal law to enroll non-immigrant alien students.
Dallas Institute of Funeral Services
With state of the art facilities, Dallas Institute of Funeral Services is located in one of the main hotspots for the embalming and mortician career. You can expect to earn an education that will prepare you to quickly enter the field upon graduation. Two classes enroll each year in the fall and spring and an open house is offered before each to ensure students can learn more about the amenities and faculty before making this important choice. With a 75% – 90% pass rate for those taking their national board licensing exam, you can rest assured that your education is complete. Accredited by the ABFSE, you can also rest comfortably knowing that your education is preparing you for your future.