At one point, I briefly thought about becoming a funeral director. Since Dad was a gravedigger, and I spent hours in cemeteries and funeral homes, I felt pretty comfortable in that environment.
Funeral directing appealed to me greatly when I was in high school trying to figure out feasible career options. I was a people person, organized, and dedicated. I knew I wouldn’t have a problem helping families making arrangements and coordinating the whole show. I also considered myself fairly empathetic, especially since I knew what it meant to experience the death of an immediate family member.
If I had grown up 25 years earlier, this career path would have been a viable option. But I lived in Minnesota, a state that no longer made the distinction between funeral director and embalmer/mortician. At one point, you could have been either a licensed funeral director or a licensed mortician. The former didn’t work with dead bodies, while the latter did. And actually working on dead bodies didn’t appeal to me as much as working with the living.
I think I could probably do the embalming in most cases. But what always held me back from considering this career is my lack of interest in math and science. I have a feeling that math and science figure predominantly in mortuary school. I would much rather work with words than numbers or formulas.
Maybe I should move to a state where I could be a licensed funeral director and finally live my dream 🙂 According to the National Funeral Directors Association, a number of states allow a separate license for funeral director. In many cases, you only need a high school diploma or equivalent. Examples include Alabama, Arkansas, and Mississippi. I can’t even hop the border; all the states surrounding Minnesota do not make a distinction between mortician and funeral director.
What are some alternative career paths you considered?
Virgil T. Morant said:
This post actually led to an interesting conversation yesterday evening. I was chatting with someone I know who is a mortician, and I remembered this post and mentioned to him that I had learned something new about his work (I also showed off by saying something about how in some countries the legal profession is divided into categories, more or less, of trial lawyers and representatives [agents]), and he nodded in understanding. Turns out this fellow has licenses in two states, one with a fused practice and the other where embalmer and funeral director are separate. He also then mentioned how, going to school back some, oh, thirty-odd years ago in West Virginia, he had one classmate who was just a kid right out of high school, because no prior college was required to go to embalming school in that state.
Anywho, I thought you’d like to know that your post led to a bit of conversation for a few minutes when one of your readers was far from his computer.
I’m so glad this sparked some conversation! That’s the point of writing anything, right?
I was surprised that some states still require only a high school degree, but I think now that is mostly to be a licensed funeral director. It looked like for embalming you still had to progress beyond high school 🙂
Margie Newman said:
I think you would have been a very good funeral director. Maybe you could be a Jewish one–no embalming allowed.
I thought of you when I passed a store on Snelling Ave in St. Paul. They advertised coffins for $300. I told both of my kids about it and said that if the deal is still on when it’s my time to pass on, to go for it.
Yes, a funeral director at a Jewish funeral home! That’s the ticket!
I think I saw something about that coffin sign several months ago. You should take a picture and send it to me! I’d love to know the story behind it.
Lisa Simons said:
Interesting, Rachael! Being a broadcast news producer (producing the evening news). But after two bad experiences as an intern at two different news stations (Des Moines and Colorado Springs), I realized tragedy was move important than human relations. Not my cup of tea.
I can see you doing that! But that would be a job where you would get cynical very quickly. It’s not easy to work in news, trust me!