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Funeral Directors and Managers

At a Glance

  • Organize and direct funeral services
  • May perform many tasks, from embalming to accounting
  • May work on an on-call basis
  • Work with customers during a difficult time
  • Training usually lasts three years
  • Need a license

Career summary

Funeral directors and managers organize and direct funeral services.

Funeral directors may also be called morticians.

#match with wois 8632, checked, updated 2/19/15 lh

Funeral directors and managers work in funeral homes. They help make decisions about the obituary, casket, and service. They may prearrange funerals so that people can have all details taken care of before they pass away.

Funeral managers

Funeral managers oversee the general operations of a funeral home. They hire staff for the funeral home and may manage several employees. They oversee accounts and payments. They also handle the marketing and public relations.

Funeral directors

Funeral directors plan funeral services when someone dies. They often contact members of the clergy or other religious persons to lead the service. Funeral directors help make decisions about the preparation of the deceased. They may also discuss options such as cremation. Some prepare the deceased for out-of-state burial.

Funeral directors organize and direct the memorial service. They arrange the duties of pallbearers. They arrange the flowers and lighting. They may open the casket if the deceased is to be viewed during the service. Some greet mourners at the funeral home and usher them to their seats.

Funeral directors coordinate activities with cemeteries. They oversee transport of the casket and flowers from the funeral home to the burial site. They also make sure the mourners have transportation to the cemetery.

Funeral directors may embalm or preserve the deceased before the funeral service. For more information about embalmers, see that occupation in WOIS.

Funeral directors also perform administrative duties. They often obtain necessary paperwork, including death certificates and burial permits.

Related careers

This career is part of the Human Services cluster of careers.

Related careers include:

Job duties

Task list

The following list of tasks is specific to funeral directors and managers.

Common work activities

Funeral directors and managers perform the following tasks. These tasks are common to many careers.

Work requirements

Working conditions

In a typical work setting, funeral directors and managers:

Interpersonal relationships

Physical work conditions

Work performance


Physical demands

Funeral directors and managers frequently:

It is important for funeral directors and managers to be able to:

It is not as important, but still necessary, for funeral directors and managers to be able to:

Skills and abilities

Funeral directors and managers need to:


Reason and problem solve

Manage oneself, people, time, and things

Work with people

Education and training

Educational programs

The programs of study listed below will help you prepare for the occupation or career cluster you are exploring.

Programs of study directly related to this occupation

Other programs of study to consider


To work as a funeral manager, you typically need to:

To work as a funeral director, you typically need to:

Education after high school

Funeral directors and managers learn their skills through programs in mortuary science. Some community and junior colleges offer two-year programs. A few colleges and universities offer both two- and four-year programs.

Mortuary science programs usually include courses in anatomy and physiology, pathology (the study of disease), embalming techniques, and restorative arts (cosmetic reconstruction of deceased). They also offer courses in business. Other courses cover the psychological side of the business, such as working with people who are suffering from grief and loss. People who graduate from mortuary school are called mortuary science technicians.

Work experience

You should work in a funeral home part time or during summer break before starting a training program. A summer job as a funeral attendant can help you become familiar with the operation of funeral homes. This can help you decide if the work is what you want to do. Funeral managers need office management experience.

On-the-job training

Funeral directors must complete long-term, on-the-job training. You work with a licensed embalmer or funeral director. Depending on state regulations, this training lasts from one to three years. This training may take place before, during, or after you finish mortuary school.

Some funeral homes offer in-house training. This may be hands-on or classroom-based or a combination. Training usually lasts six to twelve months.

Helpful high school courses

In high school, take classes that prepare you for college. A college preparatory curriculum (external link) may be different from your state's graduation requirements (external link).

You should also consider taking some advanced courses in high school. This includes Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses if they are available in your school. If you do well in these courses, you may receive college credit for them. Advanced courses can also strengthen your college application.

Helpful electives to take in high school that prepare you for this career include:

Many funeral directors and managers are self-employed. To help you monitor your finances and taxes, you should consider taking these courses as well:

The courses listed above are meant to help you create your high school plan. If you have not already done so, talk to a school counselor or parent about the courses you are considering taking.

You should also check with a teacher or counselor to see if work-based learning opportunities are available in your school and community. These might include field trips, job shadowing, internships, and actual work experience. The goal of these activities is to help you connect your school experiences with real-life work.

Join some groups, try some hobbies, or volunteer with an organization that interests you. By participating in activities you can have fun, make new friends, and learn about yourself. Maybe one of them will help direct you to a future career. Here are examples of activities and groups (PDF file) that may be available in your high school or community.

Things to know

Traditionally, funeral homes have been run as family businesses. At one time, funeral directors and managers might have needed a family connection to get hired. Today, the best way for funeral directors and managers to get hired is through connections made in mortuary school. Many mortuary schools have close ties with local funeral homes. They often provide job placement for graduates. They can also provide internship placement for students still in school. These internships often lead to permanent jobs.

Though licensing can be done at age 18, employers usually look for funeral directors who are at least 21 years old and have finished at least two years of mortuary school. They also look for at least one year of training with a licensed funeral service worker. Finally, employers look for funeral directors who have a state license.

Employers also look for funeral directors and managers with strong management and administrative skills. Funeral directors and managers may have to hire and oversee staff, such as assistants, embalmers, and office workers.

Employers look for funeral directors and managers who are calm and professional in their work. They also look for funeral directors and managers who will build and manage a reputable and profitable business.


Students are strongly advised to get their practical training in a funeral home before formal training to determine compatibility with the work.

Costs to workers

Some workers may have to purchase appropriate work clothes.


Funeral directors must be licensed in Washington. Licensing requirements are as follows:

Funeral directors pay $100 for the state licensing application and examination and $150 for the annual renewal. Intern directors pay $135 for registration for the application and $100 for the annual renewal.

For more information, contact:

Washington State Department of Licensing
Funeral Licensing Program (external link)

PO Box 9012
Olympia, WA 98507-9012

#Checked licensing: No AIDS training required anymore; added OSHA/WISHA req, 4/19/16 cj. updated fees 3/21/17 lh. Added criminal history ?s for renewal 4/2/18; rest same, cj. 2/25/19 lh

Job listings

Listed below are links to job categories from the National Labor Exchange that relate to this career. Once you get a list of jobs, you can view information about individual jobs and find out how to apply. If your job search finds too many openings, or if you wish to search for jobs outside of Washington, you will need to refine your search.

To get a listing of current jobs from the WorkSource system, go to the WorkSource website (external link).


Funeral service managers (SOC 11-9061)

Pay Period
    Vancouver Hourly $26.42 $28.83 $56.31 $69.46 $75.95
Monthly $4,579 $4,996 $9,759 $12,037 $13,162
Yearly $54,954 $59,959 $117,123 $144,485 $157,978
United States Hourly $19.91 $28.83 $38.07 $53.30 $72.92
Monthly $3,450 $4,996 $6,598 $9,237 $12,637
Yearly $41,410 $59,970 $79,180 $110,870 $151,680

Morticians, undertakers, and funeral directors (SOC 39-4031)

Pay Period
Washington Hourly $17.84 $22.64 $27.34 $31.18 $37.99
Monthly $3,092 $3,924 $4,738 $5,403 $6,584
Yearly $37,110 $47,090 $56,860 $64,860 $79,010
    Kennewick-Richland Hourly $24.08 $26.70 $30.77 $39.94 $46.77
Monthly $4,173 $4,627 $5,332 $6,922 $8,105
Yearly $50,092 $55,543 $63,996 $83,077 $97,295
    Mount Vernon-Anacortes Hourly $15.73 $16.87 $18.67 $23.91 $35.45
Monthly $2,726 $2,924 $3,236 $4,144 $6,143
Yearly $32,722 $35,110 $38,827 $49,747 $73,742
    Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue Hourly $20.14 $24.55 $29.24 $34.47 $41.37
Monthly $3,490 $4,255 $5,067 $5,974 $7,169
Yearly $41,880 $51,075 $60,825 $71,710 $86,043
    Spokane-Spokane Valley Hourly $19.89 $24.12 $27.64 $30.91 $37.54
Monthly $3,447 $4,180 $4,790 $5,357 $6,506
Yearly $41,361 $50,162 $57,484 $64,286 $78,086
    Vancouver Hourly $14.43 $18.16 $26.04 $32.57 $38.02
Monthly $2,501 $3,147 $4,513 $5,644 $6,589
Yearly $30,012 $37,792 $54,164 $67,760 $79,086
United States Hourly $13.97 $18.64 $25.31 $33.89 $42.81
Monthly $2,421 $3,230 $4,386 $5,873 $7,419
Yearly $29,050 $38,770 $52,650 $70,500 $89,050

Earnings depend upon the director's or manager's experience and ability to build a good business reputation. Funeral directors and managers who work in large cities can expect to earn more than those who work in small towns.

Funeral directors and managers usually receive benefits such as paid vacation, health insurance, and sick leave. Self-employed funeral directors and managers must provide their own insurance.

Employment and outlook

#Removed State Employment section as DOL now requiring submission of Public Records request to get licensing numbers, 4/2/18 cj.

Washington outlook


The table below provides information about the number of workers in this career in various regions. It also provides information about the expected growth rate and future job openings.

Funeral Directors (SOC 11-9061)

Location Current employment Growth over 10 years Annual openings
Washington 154 3.2% 16.1% 11
    Benton and Franklin Counties 18 0.0% 15.0% 1
    Clallam, Jefferson, and Kitsap Counties 16 6.3% 11.9% 1
    Island, San Juan, Skagit, and Whatcom Counties 44 6.8% 14.6% 3
    King County 28 -3.6% 19.6% 2
    Kittitas, Klickitat, Skamania, and Yakima Counties 19 5.3% 13.8% 1
    Spokane County 11 9.1% 13.9% 1
United States 23,500 5.1% 5.2% 1,900

Morticians, undertakers, and funeral directors (SOC 39-4031)

Location Current employment Growth over 10 years Annual openings
Washington 403 2.0% 16.1% 51
    Adams, Chelan, Douglas, Grant, and Okanogan Counties 26 15.4% 13.4% 4
    Asotin, Columbia, Ferry, Garfield, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Stevens, Walla Walla, and Whitman Counties 20 -5.0% 8.6% 2
    Benton and Franklin Counties 19 0.0% 15.0% 2
    Clallam, Jefferson, and Kitsap Counties 18 5.6% 11.9% 2
    Clark, Cowlitz, and Wahkiakum Counties 24 4.2% 15.2% 3
    Grays Harbor, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, and Thurston Counties 12 25.0% 14.1% 2
    Island, San Juan, Skagit, and Whatcom Counties 39 5.1% 14.6% 5
    King County 144 -6.9% 19.6% 15
    Kittitas, Klickitat, Skamania, and Yakima Counties 10 0.0% 13.8% 1
    Pierce County 33 0.0% 15.2% 4
    Snohomish County 25 8.0% 12.4% 3
    Spokane County 46 6.5% 13.9% 6
United States 29,600 2.4% 5.2% 3,600

National employment

About 64% of funeral managers and 13% of funeral directors are self-employed.

Major employers:

National outlook

Demand for this occupation will be steady. The number of people over 55 will grow rapidly in the next decade. As the population grows older and passes away, the demand for funeral and memorial services will increase.

More and more people are pre-arranging their end-of-life services. This also increases the demand for funeral directors and managers.

Job openings will occur as people retire.

Other resources

American Board of Funeral Service Education (external link)
992 Mantua Pike, Suite 108
Woodbury Heights, NJ 08097
Exploring a Career in Funeral Service (external link)
National Funeral Directors and Morticians Association (external link)
6290 Shannon Parkway
Union City, GA 30291
National Funeral Directors Association (external link)
13625 Bishop's Drive
Brookfield, WI 53005
US Small Business Administration (external link)
Seattle District Office
2401 Fourth Avenue, Suite 450
Seattle, WA 98121
Washington State Funeral Directors Association (external link)
9116 E. Sprague Avenue, #809
Spokane Valley, WA 99206


Career cluster

Career path

O*Net (external link) occupations

O*Net job zone (external link)

DOT occupation

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