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Shop window of a funeral director in France

A Funeral Director: FD, LFD, CFSP, FD&E, Mortuary College graduate (also known as a mortician or undertaker) is a professional involved in the business of funeral rites. These tasks often entail the embalming and burial or cremation of the dead, as well as the planning and arrangement of the actual funeral ceremony. FD's may at times be asked to perform tasks such as dressing (in garments usually suitable for daily wear) casketing (placing the human body in the container) and cosmetizing (applying any sort of cosmetic or substance to the viewable areas of the person for the purpose of enhancing appearances).


The role of a funeral director

The role of a morticians has expanded further and encroached on what used to be seen as the job of the clergy. Their job gradually grew to include more intensive involvement in funeral services (rather than mere organization) and hiring ministers for families without church membership. They also worked at transferring the location of the funeral from the church to the funeral home, because there they could establish clear authority over the funeral service.[1]

Most modern day funeral homes are run as family businesses. The majority of morticians work in these small, independent family run funeral homes. The owner usually hires two or three other morticians to help him. Often, this hired help is in the family, perpetuating the family's ownership. Most funeral homes have one or more viewing rooms, a preparation room for embalming, a chapel, and a coffin selection room. They usually have a hearse for transportation of bodies, a flower car, and limousines. They also normally have choices of caskets and urns for families to purchase or rent.[2]

Evolution of the industry is continuing today. While most funeral homes are still operated by families, larger and more centralized organizations are coming to prominence.[3] This shift towards larger and less personal organizations can largely be attributed to changing societal views toward the death process, such as the institutionalization of death.[3]

Organizations and licensing

In the UK many funeral directors may belong to the British Institute of Funeral Directors (BIFD), membership of which is open to anyone holding the NAFD Diploma in Funeral Directing. Companies may be members of National Association of Funeral Directors or the Society of Allied Independent Funeral Directors (SAIF). Some family owned businesses may be a member of both trade organisations.

The principal United States professional organizations in the field are the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association and the National Funeral Directors Association. The American Board of Funeral Service Education provides accreditation to postsecondary educational institutions offering programs in mortuary science or funeral services.

In the US, the individual states each have their own licensing regulations for funeral directors. Most require a combination of postsecondary education (typically an associate's degree), passage of a National Board Examination [1], passage of a state board examination, and one to two years' work as an apprentice.[4]

Employment opportunities

Employment opportunities for funeral directors are expected to be good, particularly for those who also embalm. However, mortuary science graduates may have to relocate to find jobs.[2]

  • BBC Wiltshire An article on the College of Funeral Sciences in Salisbury that trains over fifty qualified undertakers a year.

See also


  1. ^ Bradfield, Cecil D., R. Ann Myers. "Clergy and Funeral Directors: An Exploration in Role Conflict." Review of Religious Research. 21.3, (1980): 343-350
  2. ^ a b "Funeral Directors." Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2006-07 Edition. 4 Aug, 2006. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. 8 Dec, 2008. <>
  3. ^ a b Parsons, Brian. "Yesterday, today and tomorrow. The lifecycle of the UK funeral industry." Mortality. 4.2 (1999): 127-145
  4. ^ American Board of Funeral Service Education, Frequently Asked Questions


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