Being a Mortician

Topics: Funeral, Undertaking, Funeral home Pages: 5 (1679 words) Published: October 8, 1999
Being a Mortician

The word mortician brings what images to mind? The career of a mortician is surprisingly different than it is portraied in movies and books. Being a mortician is a very rewarding job both personal as well as psychological to those with the temperament, training and discipline required to do the job properly. In this paper I'll be reporting the requirements to become a mortician, also called funeral director or undertaker, the duties the job requires of you, and the outlook of this career in the future of the United States.

To become a funeral director in the United States today isn't an easy task. You need to be twenty-one, a high school graduate with some undergraduate college work, as well as at least one year of professional training in mortuary science, and completion of an apprenticeship. "Upon completing a state board licensing exam, new funeral directors are qualified to join the staff of a funeral home. In many states successful completion of a national examination given by the National Conference of Examining boards will qualify you for licensure"(IRN 10). In different states the undergraduate college credit varies considerably, one-third of the states require one year; another third wants two years; and the other third requires three years of credit(IRN 9). A concentration of courses is also required in some of the states. You may need to take 15 credits in natural science, 13 in social sciences, 13 in business, 14 in chemistry(IRN 10). In addition to your college work, you will need at least 50 credit hours of professional work in mortuary science. "There are about 40 schools of mortuary science officially recognized by the U.S. Department of Education today"(Shipley 220). The curriculum generally consists of courses in:

"Embalming, Restorative Art, Chemistry, Microbiology, Pathology, Anatomy, Small Business Management, Funeral Home management, Merchandising, Accounting, Funeral Home Law, Computers, History and sociology of Funeral Service, Psychology of Grief, Grief Counseling, oral and Written Communication, Funeral Service Law, Business Law, and Ethics"(IRN 11).

Along with educational requirements you need to look at the personal requirements it takes to be a funeral director. You have to be on call 24-hours a day 7 days a week, death doesn't know any holidays. The people's needs come before any of yours in this career. You'll need to work with others in a very fragile condition, you'll have to be very patient with them. A lot of the time the mourners will vent their pent up anger on the funeral director and will blame you for their problems. Some of time you'll need to deal with religions new to you and that seem strange, but you'll have to be understanding and willing to let the mourners carry out their forms of burial and mourning. In other words, can you handle a career that requires constant sensitivity to needs and wants of other people?

One of the duties of a mortician is to embalm the corpse for show. "If the body is not to be buried within twenty-four hours, most communities require that it be embalmed"(IRN 6). After the body is brought to the funeral home, you would see first of all that the body and hair are cleaned and washed for embalming. A small incision is made at the base of the neck or in the groin to secure access to a major artery or vein. "The object in embalming is to pump our the body fluids, or blood, and to replace it with special long lasting chemicals which will keep the body from decaying for a long period of time and which will prevent it from further disease or decay, if death has been caused by a specific infectious disease."(Lamers 420). Tubes are then inserted in the artery or vein. The tube in this artery is connected to a mechanical pump that injects a preservative and disinfectant solution into the blood system.(Lamers 426). The chemicals eventually push all the blood out of the system and take its place in the...
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