Funeral Arranger Careers: Salary & Job Description

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What are the pros and cons of becoming a funeral arranger? Get the facts about job duties, educational requirements and potential salaries to see if becoming a funeral arranger is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of Becoming a Funeral Arranger

While the role of funeral arranger (more commonly known as a funeral director) won't appeal to everyone, some may find that helping people get through the difficult process of laying a loved one to rest can be personally fulfilling. Learn about the pros and cons of becoming a funeral arranger in order to make an informed career decision.

Pros of a Career in Funeral Arranging
Average job growth (12% from 2012-2022)*
Varied job duties (job can involve embalming, meeting with clients, paperwork, preparing service sites, etc.)*
May console families who need comfort in trying times*

Cons of a Career in Funeral Arranging
May need to work long hours and be on call*
May require contact with dead bodies and bodily fluids*
Work can be stressful*
May be required to learn embalming and cremation techniques*
Possible need to relocate to find a job*
Average pay of around $52,000 per year*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Essential Career Information

Job Description

As a funeral arranger or director, you manage the entire process of the funeral, from contacting clergy members to planning floral deliveries. Many funeral directors also work as embalmers. Exact duties vary depending on the funeral homes' requirements but may include writing obituaries; submitting appropriate paperwork for death certificates, pensions or insurance claims; and consulting with those who wish to plan funeral arrangements in advance. You may also offer support to grieving family members and ensure that all of their needs are met.

Job Outlook and Salary Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the average salary for a funeral arranger or director was around $52,000 as of May 2014. The number of employed professionals in this field was expected to grow 12% between 2012 and 2022. According to the BLS, job opportunities may be better for funeral arrangers/directors who know how to embalm and process bodies as well.

Education and Training Requirements

Most funeral arrangers and directors hold associate's degrees in funeral service or mortuary science. These programs are usually two years in length, and many are accredited by the American Board of Funeral Service Education (ABFSE). In addition to general education coursework, common core topics include funeral management, embalming techniques, the psychology of mourners and funeral service regulations. Most ABFSE-accredited programs require students to pass the National Board Examination prior to graduation.

Licensure

In order to practice, funeral arrangers and directors need to obtain state licensure. Common licensure requirements include completion of an associate's degree and 1-3 years of on-the-job training under the supervision of a licensed funeral director. Depending on your state, these training sessions can be completed before, during or after college enrollment. You also need to pass a licensing exam. Exact requirements vary from state to state, so be certain to check with your state board.

Job Postings from Real Employers

Desired qualifications vary for potential employers, but most require licensure and a few years of experience in the industry. Below are some potential careers available in the field as of April 2012:

  • A funeral home in Texas is seeking a funeral director that can also perform embalming services. This position pays $30,000-$45,000 per year and requires professional certification and some experience in the industry. Some on-call time is part of this position.
  • In Arkansas, a funeral home is looking for a funeral director that can embalm, arrange funerals and direct funeral services. This position requires licensure, experience and at least two years of post-secondary education. Applicant must be up-to-date on all laws and regulations in the industry.
  • A funeral home in Indiana seeks a funeral director that has a license, one year of experience in funeral directing and at least two years of post-secondary education. This position requires that the director meet with clients to handle all arrangements prior to the funeral, perform embalming services and direct funeral services.

How to Make Your Skills Stand Out

Because most funeral arrangers hold associate's degrees, earning a bachelor's degree in funeral service or funeral home management is one way to stand out from the crowd. You can usually earn a bachelor's degree in four years. However, if you already hold an associate's degree, you may be able to transfer credits into a bachelor's program.

You can also bolster your resume by joining a professional organization, like the National Funeral Directors Association. In addition to member benefits, like networking opportunities and product discounts, some organizations offer voluntary certifications. For example, the Academy of Professional Funeral Service Practice offers the Certified Funeral Service Practitioner credential to members who meet state licensure requirements.

Other Careers to Consider

If you don't feel that the physical and emotional work of funeral arranging is for you, there are related careers you may consider. One potential option is social work, which involves the same amount of human interaction. However, this career also has the potential to be high stress or depressing due to the highly emotional nature of the work. Most social workers have at least a bachelor's degree and a license, so you need to complete more education than you would as a funeral arranger. According to the BLS, the median salary for all social workers was roughly $42,000 as of May 2010. However, the job outlook is more promising - the number of employed social workers was expected to rise 25% from 2010-2020.

If you'd like to help save or preserve lives, rather than prepare the dead for burial, consider becoming a physician or surgeon. It's important to note that schooling for this position is much more in depth and expensive. You need to complete four years of medical school after earning your bachelor's degree and may spend another 3-8 years in residency training, depending on your specialty. However, physicians and surgeons earn higher wages than most funeral arrangers. According to the BLS, the median salary for physicians and surgeons was at or above $166,000 as of May 2010. Job growth for these professionals was expected to reach 24% between 2010 and 2020.

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