How to Become a Mortician

How to Become a Mortician – A Step-by-Step Guide

If you’re wondering how to become a mortician, you’ve come to the right place. This comprehensive guide will walk you through all of the steps required to earn your license or certification (depending on the state you live in) and answer many of the common questions that students have when embarking on their studies in mortuary science.

How Do I Become a Mortician?

The process of becoming a mortician typically lasts from two to three years and involves a combination of classroom-based study and hands-on training.

The entire process involves three main steps:

  1. Earn at least an associate’s degree through an accredited mortuary science program
  2. Serve an apprenticeship
  3. Pass the licensing exam required by your state board

A closer look at each step follows in the section below. Simply click on any of the tabs to read how to complete that step.

1 - Earn Your Mortuary Science Degree2 – Complete an Apprenticeship3 – Pass Your State Licensing Exam

Step One – Earn Your Mortuary Science Degree

The first step in becoming a mortician is to complete your mortuary science degree. In the past, some states (e.g. Colorado) allowed individuals to become morticians with only a professional certification, but this has changed recently. All states now require a minimum of an associate’s degree in mortuary science for anyone wishing to become a funeral director, embalmer or mortician.

How long do mortician programs last?

As with other types of associate’s and bachelor’s degree programs, mortuary science degrees take between two and four years to complete. Programs must be accredited through the American Board of Funeral Service Education (ABFSE) in order for their graduates to be eligible to test for licensing, so it is important for you to verify accreditation prior to enrolling.

To learn more about mortuary science degree programs, check out our complete guide here.

Step Two – Complete an Apprenticeship

As an additional requirement for licensing eligibility, aspiring morticians are required to serve a one-to-three year apprenticeship under a licensed funeral director or mortician. Prior to beginning this apprenticeship, certain states require the student to secure an apprentice permit.

When should I start my mortician apprenticeship?

You may begin your mortician apprenticeship either during college or immediately after. The only timing constraint is that the apprenticeship must be completed prior to sitting for the state licensure exam.

What will the apprenticeship entail?

Most apprenticeships involve following the funeral director or mortician during his or her day and observing the tasks required by their job. The apprentice will also assist with various duties (some states regulate which tasks an apprentice may assist with) related to the embalming and funeral services processes. Your state may also require you to assist with a certain number of these processes prior to completing the apprenticeship program.

Where can I find apprenticeship opportunities?

Many mortuary science schools have working partnerships with local funeral homes and mortuaries, so you’ll be able to coordinate your apprenticeship through the program. If, for some reason, this is not the case with your institution, you can approach the aforementioned businesses yourself and speak to the funeral director or mortician directly about serving an apprenticeship under them.

Step Three – Pass Your State Licensing Exam

While each state has different rules and regulations pertaining to their funeral services professionals, the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) does establish a national code of professional conduct that all funeral homes operating within the U.S. are expected to abide by.

The tenets outlined within this code do make-up the foundation for individual states’ licensing guidelines. You may also find state-specific licensing guidelines through the appropriate governing agency.

See this list provided by the NFDA to learn about mortician licensing in your state.

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