Mortuary Science

The Profession

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Who They Are

Mortuary scientists, or funeral directors are individuals who work with the loved ones of those deceased in order to a funeral for those who have passed away, as well as prepare bodies after death.

What They Do

Funeral directors provide support to the bereaved during initial stages of their grief; they remove the deceased from the place of death, prepare the body according to the wishes of the survivors and requirements of the law, secure information for legal documents, direct funeral ceremonies, and help individuals adapt to changes in their lives following a death through post-death counseling and support group activities.

Where They Work

Funeral workers traditionally work in funeral homes, many of which are owned by the directors themselves. This means funeral directors often take on the managerial tasks of owning a business on top of their traditional duties.


In Minnesota, employment for funeral directors is expected to grow about as fast as average for all occupations. There will be job openings associated with retirements and meeting the needs of the aging population in the next decade. Funeral directors practice in both small homes and, increasingly, as part of large corporations. Median wages for funeral directors in 2010 were reported to be approximately $54,000.


Students looking to become a funeral director or mortuary scientist complete a Bachelor of Science degree. Undergraduate coursework generally includes: anatomy and physiology, pathology, embalming procedures, restorative arts, psychological aspects of death and dying, grief or bereavement counseling, funeral home management, and legal requirements.

An individualized apprenticeship with a funeral director or licensed embalmer is also required for licensure. 

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