Education Requirements and Licensing for the Funeral Industry

Columbia Funeral Home in Seattle, Washington.

Columbia Funeral Home in Seattle, Washington.

If you are seeking a career opportunity in the funeral industry, you have numerous sources available to you to learn about educational requirements and licensing. The following information includes a summary of basic educational requirements for most states. You always can contact the funeral service college or check this list of State Funeral Directors Associations at the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) to learn more about specific education guidelines for each state.

With career opportunities in over 20,000 funeral homes across the U.S., you may find a need for a well-trained funeral service professional. Demand is greater for graduates who have prepared themselves for management positions by selecting business and communications courses as part of their college program.

Generally, you will need:

  • A high school diploma or equivalent (GED).
  • An Associate Degree, or its credit hour equivalent, a portion of which is in funeral service education, from an accredited educational institution.
  • Passing a state and/or national board licensing examination.
  • An internship or apprenticeship ranging from one to three years.
  • Many states require that funeral directors meet continuing education requirements to maintain licensure. (See State Boards and Licensing Requirements Information)

The funeral service curriculum, approved by the American Board of Funeral Service Education (ABFSE), the United States’ funeral service accrediting agency, includes courses in:

  • Public Health and Technical Area — microbiology, anatomy, chemistry, pathology, restorative art and embalming.
  • Business Management Area — business management, funeral arranging, funeral merchandising, funeral home management, computer applications, Federal Trade Commission Funeral Rule and accounting.
  • Social Science Area — sociology of funeral service, psychology of grief, funeral directing, history of funeral service, communication skills and counseling.
  • Legal, Regulatory and Ethical Area — business law, funeral service law and regulation and professional ethics.

To learn more about current jobs available in the funeral industry, visit the newest jobs available list at the NFDA’s Funeral Career Center.

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