Do you want to help people? Do you like science, particularly human biology? Are you interested in business? If you answered yes to these questions, a career in funeral services might be right for you. To be a funeral director or embalmer, the primary funeral services jobs, you will need to meet certain educational requirements. Fortunately for those interested in an online education, most of these requirements can be completed online.
How Online Mortuary Programs Work
To become a funeral director or embalmer you must be licensed by the state where you are planning to work. Although the requirements vary from one state to the next, most states require an associate's degree or equivalent level of education. There are several schools offering associate's degree programs that can be completed mostly online, usually within two to three years. However, each of these programs requires students to attend lab classes on campus for approximately two weeks.
Kevin Davis, Program Director for St. Petersburg College's Funeral Services Program notes that “the American Board of Funeral Service Education (ABFSE) accreditation standards require some areas of the curriculum to be on-campus.” Davis describes how this on-campus component works for St. Petersburg's program. “There are three lab classes which require the student to come to campus. When a student enrolls in the Embalming I Lab, they schedule a week to come to campus to complete the requirements. The Embalming II Lab and Restorative Art Lab can then both be completed together in one week. Thus, a distance learning student could complete the required time on campus in two weeks,” explains Davis.
Each program handles their on-campus requirements differently, but they all function similarly to St. Petersburg's program with students attending lab classes on campus in a compressed timeframe.
In addition to educational requirements, most states also require funeral directors and embalmers to complete an apprenticeship and pass a qualification exam (usually the National Board Examination) before becoming licensed. Some states also have continuing education requirements keep a license. The National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) has detailed information on state licensing requirements.
Online Mortuary Schools
Following is a list of schools offering online degrees and continuing education:
- Amarillo College
- American Academy McAllister Institute of Funeral Service
- Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science (PIMS)
- St. Petersburg College
Although mortuary students will not be able to complete all their coursework online for an associate's degree, on-campus requirements for most programs are usually a manageable few weeks. Online students will also need to keep in mind that to get licensed as a funeral director or embalmer, they will need to complete additional requirements depending on where they want to work after graduation.