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How much do Embalmers make?

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How much do Embalmers make?

Embalmer is a profession where money can be good.

  • Embalmers make a median salary of $53,000 per year.
  • Job outlook for this profession is good.
  • Salary growth is expected to be faster than average.

Earnings from an embalmer’s job depend on experience and location. According to Payscale, an embalming technician typically earns between $19,084 and $71,000 annually. The top 10 percent of earners receive an annual income of over $90,000. Nationwide data shows the median income of all morticians and funeral service workers at roughly $50,000 a year and the middle 50 percent earning between $33,400 and $75,270 annually.

 

Job Description

As an embalmer, you prepare human remains for burial or cremation. You often work in funeral homes, although some hospitals and medical examiners’ offices also employ embalmers. Your job involves cleaning bodies, applying disinfectant and preservatives to tissue, and setting features into attractive poses. Your work helps grieving families preserve the memory of their loved ones as they appeared before death.

Skills

Skills and experience for embalmers

As an embalmer, you should have:

  • good communication skills, both in person and over the phone. You’ll need to deal with people from all sorts of backgrounds who are often upset or distressed
  • manual dexterity and a steady hand. You will be using sharp tools and chemicals which need to be applied carefully, usually in tiny quantities
  • attention to detail. This is essential for skilfully restoring features which have been damaged by illness or injury, without making things look artificial
  • organisational and administrative skills. You will need to keep accurate records of your work and make sure that you meet legal requirements on what can be done with bodies
  • problem-solving skills. Many bodies come into the care of morticians through accidents or sudden deaths, meaning there won’t always be time to learn in advance about any specific needs they may have. Dealing with these situations requires tact as well as practical ability​

Education Requirements and Training

In order to get a job as an embalmer, you will need to have some training and certification. For example, in the state of Texas, you will need at least 60 semester hours of college-level education to become an embalmer. You are also required to complete a one-year apprenticeship with someone already working as an embalmer. This apprenticeship is not paid, but it does count toward your licensing requirements.

You’ll also need to take and pass a national test before you can work as an embalmer or funeral director in any state.

Salary and Job Outlook

Once you’re working as an embalmer, you can expect to earn a median salary of $43,000 per year. With experience and additional education, your earning potential can grow to more than $100,000 per year.

That’s not too bad, but it gets even better when you look at job prospects. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the need for funeral service workers will increase by 3 percent between 2020 and 2029, which is a relatively small number compared to other professions but still means there will be opportunities available in the field. Of course, the best news is that embalmers have one of the lowest unemployment rates among any career field—only .1 percent in 2019—which means that it’s generally easier to find work as an embalmer than in most other occupations.

 

How to become an Embalmer

Decide whether this career is right for you.

Becoming an embalmer is not for the faint hearted. Though the salary is relatively good, you’ll find yourself buried in body parts that may or may not belong to people you know. So if this job and its general odor don’t appeal to you, it’s best you don’t consider it a career option.

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Still determined to get into it? If so, here are some important tips on how to become one:

Earn a high school diploma or equivalent.

The first step to becoming an embalmer is to earn a high school diploma or equivalent. To be competitive in the workforce, you should have experience with chemistry, biology, and mathematics.

A college degree is not required for this career path; however, it can be beneficial. Some employers will require a two-year MBA (Master of Business Administration) or associate’s degree from a mortuary science program. Those who complete such programs will develop skills related to anatomy, chemistry, and restorative arts that can be helpful for this profession.

Additionally, completing courses in business administration may prove beneficial as embalmers often serve as managers of their own funeral homes.

Take anatomy and physiology classes while in high school.

Think about your career goals when planning your high school classes. For example, if you’re interested in being an embalmer, taking anatomy and physiology classes can be helpful for understanding the embalming process and deciding if this is the right career for you.

Enroll in a college embalming program.

While there are a variety of schools that offer programs in embalming, you can take steps to find the programs that will best match your needs. These include:

  • Narrow down your school options by location. Embalmers are experts in making clients feel beautiful and at peace with the world. In order to do this well, you need to be comfortable in your city or town, and it’s hard to be comfortable when you don’t know where the best coffee shops or restaurants are. Choose an area where you want to live and work before you start looking at college options.
  • What kind of degree program is right for me? Once you’ve narrowed down potential schools by location, make sure they offer degrees that fit your preferences. For example, if you want a Bachelor’s degree rather than an Associate’s degree, look for four-year colleges instead of two-year ones. If money is tight, keep in mind that some two-year colleges have lower tuition rates than four-year colleges do. You can also consider online programs if there isn’t a suitable one within driving distance of your home.
  • Find out what level of experience embalming instructors have in their field – The more experience they have had working as an embalmer outside of teaching classes about being an embalmer, the more current their knowledge about working as an embalmer will be.
  • Look up graduation rates – A good graduation rate means students who attend the school generally succeed at completing their studies and getting their diploma!

Choose between a two-year or four-year program.

There are two options for aspiring embalmers: a two-year program or a four-year program. Four-year programs typically include more psychology and sociology courses, which can be helpful in understanding the needs of grieving family members. While this may be more helpful, it’s not always required depending on your state. Additionally, some employers require a four-year degree. While you can get by with just a two-year degree, having a four-year degree can open up advancement opportunities within the field.

It’s important to keep in mind that the cost of these programs varies greatly from state to state and school to school. A two year program will generally be cheaper than a four year embalming program, but your tuition costs could still run anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000 per semester (roughly $10,000-$40,000 for the whole program).

Complete an internship.

In addition to education and certification, it’s also important that you complete an internship before graduation. Internships allow you to gain experience in the field while still in school and can greatly increase your chances of finding a job after graduation. While some internships are paid, others are unpaid and will give you college credit instead; so be sure to find out what the employment requirements are when considering an internship opportunity. Internships provide a great chance for students to try out different types of positions within the field so they can find the one that fits them best.

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Get licensed.

You need to get licensed to work in the field. Requirements vary by state, but generally you’ll need to be at least 21 years old and have completed an apprenticeship with a licensed embalmer.

Your next step: contact your state licensing board to find out exactly what you need to do to apply for a license and take the exams. You’ll probably need to pass both the National Board Exam and a state-specific exam.

If you would like to pursue this career, you’ll want to take some specific steps and prepare for the challenges that come with it

If you would like to pursue this career, you’ll want to take some specific steps and prepare for the challenges that come with it. First, make sure you’re good at working with your hands. Embalmers generally use a series of chemicals to prepare bodies for burials or autopsies, so it’s important that they understand how each chemical works, how to safely handle them, and be able to carefully apply them in smaller spaces such as on the human body. It is also important that embalmers are able to stand on their feet for long periods of time while they work and have the ability to follow directions exactly without much supervision. Finally, embalming can be emotionally draining as those who do this kind of work often deal directly with grieving families who may have recently lost a loved one.

 

Careers in Embalming

What Is Embalming?

Embalming is the process of preparing a body for burial in order to slow down decomposition. The embalmer replaces the blood with embalming fluid, which preserves and disinfects the body.

The body is washed with a soap solution, which removes dirt and debris. The head, nose, ears, mouth, and neck are cleaned more thoroughly by hand. Next, the embalmer positions the body on a table in a lifelike pose. The eyes and mouth are closed using special tools so that they will not leak or pop open later on during viewing or burial. Cotton pads may be placed under your eyelids to give them shape if you have sunken eyes before death. Embalmers also use cotton pads to fill out sunken areas of your skin or hardening chemicals to firm up spots where your skin has softened due to decomposition after death (such as between your toes).

How Long Does Embalming Take?

The time it takes to embalm a body depends on the circumstances. Preparations for viewing typically take from an hour to three hours, with most cases falling within that range. If the deceased has been autopsied, additional time will be needed to sew up any incisions, correct any other damage done during the autopsy and replace any organs that may have been removed. For example: if the brain was removed during autopsy, it cannot be replaced in its original position in the skull cavity and instead must be placed elsewhere in the body. If there are severe lacerations due to trauma or disease–such as an accident victim with third-degree burns over much of his body–it can also drastically lengthen the preparation process. It takes more time to work around these areas than if they were not present, as they need extra attention in order to make them look as normal as possible so they don’t appear offensive or alarming when viewed by those who knew him before his death.

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Duties and Responsibilities

You have several duties and responsibilities as an embalmer, including:

  • Duty to the deceased
  • Duty to the public
  • Duty to your employer
  • Duty to yourself (take care of yourself)
  • Duty to the funeral director (support them in their endeavors)
  • Duty to the family (help them respect their loved one and grieve)
  • Duty to the law

Are There Different Types of Embalming Jobs?

Do you want to work in embalming but aren’t sure which role best suits your interests? If so, you might be surprised at how many different types of positions there are. Below is a breakdown of the five main careers within this field, along with an overview of what each position entails.

Embalming Preparation Specialist or Embalming Technician: These professionals prepare deceased bodies for presentation, working with funeral directors and embalmers to determine the best treatments based on factors like skin tone, condition, and cause of death. Some examples might include applying makeup or hairstyling the deceased’s hair. This job may also require meeting with families to discuss their needs and desires and explaining embalming processes.

Embalming Assistant: As an assistant to an embalmer or funeral director, responsibilities can vary widely—though they typically involve physically moving bodies from one area to another and setting up preparation tables for use by other teams. Additional tasks may include running errands for supplies or making deliveries of bodies (or body parts) between locations.

Embalming Director: This type of professional oversees all aspects related to preparing dead bodies before their presentation by handling anything from arranging transportation logistics to scheduling appointments with clients who need services performed on their loved ones’ remains–as well as ensuring that everything runs smoothly during these events themselves through active management presence at every stage (such as pre-postmortem meetings).

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Embalmer Job Outlook in Funeral Homes and Mortuaries

Embalming is a respectable, meaningful career that takes skill and precision to master. As such, you can expect the demand for embalmers to remain consistent for the near future.

According to the BLS, job opportunities are expected to grow nine percent by 2028, with 695 openings added each year. This means that there should be a healthy amount of job openings as some people retire or leave their positions at funeral homes and mortuaries. The number of jobs in this field increased from 9,620 in 2018 to 11,890 in 2019, which was an increase of 23 percent.

Careers in embalming come with some interesting prospects and options.

So, it’s absolutely clear to you that you want a career in embalming, and we couldn’t be happier for you. Now it’s time to start thinking about what your life as an embalmer will look like. For starters, the annual salary range for embalmers is between $30k-60k with a median of around $45k. The job outlook for this field is stable and steady with no noticeable decline in demand expected. In order to start this career path, you’ll need an associate’s degree or certificate from one of the many schools offering these programs across the country. Most programs require anywhere from 6 months to two years depending on whether you decide on an associate’s degree or certificate program, which are relatively similar in terms of content but differ in how much science material (biology, anatomy) they cover vs hands-on experience working with coffins and other equipment. Additionally, some states may have their own licensing requirements so be sure to check into those if applicable.

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