American Board of Funeral Service Education


Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get into Funeral Service?
Each state has its own licensing regulations governing entry as a funeral director. Most require a combination of postsecondary education (typically Associate Degree in Funeral Service Education), passage of the National Board Examination, and serve an internship for one or two years.

Do I have to go to college to become a funeral director?
In most states the answer is "Yes." The amount of college required varies from state to state with the Associate Degree in Funeral Service Education being the most typical. However, requirements vary from no college to four years of college. Contact the licensing agency for the state in which you plan to work, or contact one of the accredited college programs for more information.

What about the job market in funeral service?
On a national basis there are generally more jobs available than there are licensed funeral directors to fill them. However, this varies from region to region and from town to town. Funeral service is a profession that most people enter only after having had positive personal experience and not as a result of reading books or watching videos.

What type of person becomes a funeral director?
People enter the funeral service profession from a wide variety of backgrounds and possess a variety of motivations. The desire to help others and to work in a human service profession motivates most individuals. Many enter the profession after serving for a number of years in other careers. In 2014, approximately 56% of the funeral service graduates were women and 39% of the graduates were over the age of 30. Eighty-five percent (85%) of new enrollees had no prior family relationship with funeral service.

How much will I earn?
Salary varies from region to region, from urban to rural community, and from small to large funeral homes. Starting salaries for new funeral service licensees often closely approximate those of starting teachers in the same community. Statistics available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate a median annual salary of $51,600 in 2012. (range from $28,100 - $94,860)

How about working conditions in funeral service?
Funeral service is a 24 hour, 7 day per week profession, although the workload is spread among all funeral home staff. You can expect to work a regular schedule of hours, but evening and weekend hours are common. 'On call' duty is expected of many funeral directors. While on duty the funeral director is expected to dress in business attire. Above all the funeral director must reflect a personable, sincere and professional manner.

How do funeral directors spend their time?
A small percentage of the funeral directors' time is spent preparing bodies of the deceased for final disposition. The overwhelming majority of time is spent working directly with families. For this reason funeral service is referred to as a "human service profession."

What subject areas comprise the Funeral Service Education curriculum?
An Associate Degree or its credit hour equivalent is required. This means that your academic program must consist of at least 60 semester (90 quarter) hours of academic course work. At least 25% of that course work must be in general, non-technical courses. Most programs also require the successful completion of practicum time within a funeral home. The curriculum in Funeral Service is comprised of the following courses:

       Sciences, including microbiology, pathology, chemistry, anatomy, embalming and restorative art

       Business and funeral home management, funeral directing, accounting, business communications and computer applications for funeral service

       Social Sciences, including history and sociology of funeral service, funeral service psychology and counseling

       Law and Ethics, including business law, funeral service law and funeral service ethics

Is scholarship aid available?
Scholarship aid is most often available through the financial aid office of the college that you attend. The American Board of Funeral Service Education also offers a scholarship program for which you can apply after you have completed at least one term of study in an accredited funeral service program. Awards from this program range from $500 - $2500. Approximately one half of each the applicants each year are granted a scholarship. More information about the ABFSE Scholarship Program is available in the Scholarship section of this website. Applications are only available via the website.

The completed application must be returned to ABFSE along with two essays, transcripts of all college courses attempted and a written recommendation. Deadlines are in March and September each year. Click here for further information and deadlines.  Local, state and national funeral director associations are also a potential source of financial assistance. Talk to the program director at your school for details.

Questions about the ABFSE Scholarship program may be directed to:

    American Board of Funeral Service Education
    3414 Ashland Avenue, Suite G
    St. Joseph, MO 64506
    Office: (816) 233-3747


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