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Things You Should Know About Funeral Directors

What does a funeral director do? The role is much broader than you might first expect.

Funeral directors are people who plan or take part in funerals.

The funeral director will speak to the family members of the deceased person and decide what sort of ceremony they would like for him/her, such as a burial or cremation. The funeral director also arranges the coffin, oversees the funeral service and ensures that everything is carried out smoothly.

The job is emotionally and physically demanding, but there are lots of opportunities for people who would like to work in this area. You can become a funeral director when you receive training at college or university.

Responsibilities

A funeral director’s responsibilities include:

-organising funerals and paying respects to the deceased person in a dignified and respectful manner

-arranging for the body to be removed from the place of death, and ensuring that it is transported in a suitable way

-respectfully preparing the body to make it presentable for visitors at a funeral or memorial service

-deciding what sort of coffin should be used, and organising transportation of the coffin

-liaising with the person responsible for registering the death and arranging an inquest, if necessary

-arranging catering at a funeral service

-managing staff, including those who provide catering or help to carry out religious ceremonies

-keeping accurate records of the funerals that are carried out

-ensuring that all paperwork is completed correctly and submitted on time

-costing funerals and dealing with payment, offering advice about the financial impact of a funeral

Funeral directors need to be patient, sensitive and have excellent communication skills. They also need to have an understanding of bereavement to support families that are affected by the loss. Most funeral directors work full time. There are some opportunities to work part-time or on a flexible basis.

Requirements

There is no legal requirement to have formal qualifications but it is becoming more common for funeral directors to have a degree, diploma or postgraduate qualification in this area of work. You can train as a funeral director at college or university. Training courses are offered by the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management (ICCM), the Institute of Licenced Embalmers and Funeral Directors, or by local colleges.

Training is available at different levels, including diplomas, higher education courses and degree levels.

Most funeral directors are self-employed but some are employed by a company that provides funeral services to customers. Self-employed funeral directors can benefit from support and advice from national industry associations.

There are no specific entry requirements for this role, but it will be advantageous if you have experience of dealing with the public or showing empathy with people facing grief and bereavement as well as speaking confidently to groups of people. You may also need to own a car to carry out the work.

You can find job opportunities for funeral directors through recruitment agencies and online. There are also some vacancies advertised in local newspapers, on notice boards at colleges and universities, and directly with funeral services organisations.

It is very unlikely that you will be able to set up your own business as a funeral director without having first worked as an apprentice. It may be possible for graduates to start their businesses if they have experience in retail, catering or customer services. Self-employed people charge the family members of the deceased person a fee to cover the cost of organising and managing the funeral.

Salary

A funeral director’s salary is usually based on an hourly rate; however, some self-employed people charge a fixed fee for organising and managing a funeral. The median income of self-employed funeral directors is £23,500 per year.