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M is for Mortician

by Mark Schultz
September 2016

There is more to a mortician’s job than simply making the funeral arrangements. These include other tasks such as arranging for clergy members to perform needed services, organizing pallbearers and informing them of their duties, providing information on funeral service options and products, and conducting the series of events to prepare the deceased for their funeral. They also perform a host of other duties such as offering counsel and comfort to bereaved family and friends and participating in community activities for funeral home promotion. While this may not seem like a pleasant job to many, it is an essential occupation to help the bereaved celebrate the life of their deceased loved one (see Table 1).


Table 1: Other Tasks of a Mortician

Obtain information needed to complete legal documents, such as death certificates or burial permits

Oversee the preparation and care of the remains of people who have died

Consult with families or friends of the deceased to arrange funeral details, such as obituary notice wording, casket selection, or plans for services

Plan, schedule, or coordinate funerals, burials, or cremations, arranging details such as floral delivery or the time and place of services

Perform embalming duties as necessary

Contact cemeteries to schedule the opening and closing of graves

Maintain a casket display area

Close caskets and lead funeral corteges to churches or burial sites

Inform survivors of benefits for which they may be eligible

Discuss and negotiate prearranged funerals with clients

Maintain financial records, order merchandise, or prepare accounts

Provide or arrange transportation between sites for the remains, mourners, pallbearers, clergy, or flowers

Plan placement of caskets at funeral sites or place or adjust lights, fixtures, or floral displays

Direct preparations and shipment of bodies for out-of-state burial

Manage funeral home operations, including the hiring, training, or supervision of embalmers, funeral attendants, or other staff

Clean funeral home facilities and grounds

Receive or usher people to their seats for services

Source: 0*Net OnLine (www.onetonline.org)

In Minnesota there is only one public educational institution that offers a bachelor’s degree in Mortuary Science – the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. During the fall semester of each year the program admits between 30 and 36 new students, and for those who already have a bachelor’s degree there are two “accelerated track” plans available. From the 2014 program information and national board exam statistics, as seen in Table 2, it seems that this program has a pretty solid outcome for their graduates.

 

Table 2: Mortuary Science Program Information and National Board Exam Statistics

2014 Program Information

Number of New Students

Number of Graduates

Timely Graduation*

Percent Employed

Left Before Completion

37

30

91%

83%

1

* Timely graduation = complete program in 1 ½ time designated program length

National Board Exam Statistics

Year and Degree Type

Number of Takers

Number Passed

Percent
Passed

2012 Arts

33

30

91%

2012 Science

30

27

90%

2013 Arts

38

35

92%

2013 Science

40

39

98%

2014 Arts

27

21

78%

2014 Science

26

23

88%

Source: American Board of Funeral Service Education

 

In Minnesota there are approximately 460 morticians, undertakers, and funeral directors in 487 funeral homes in 346 cities. There are an additional 540 funeral attendants in the state. With a median wage of $29.04 per hour, morticians make almost 54 percent more than the median wages across all occupations ($18.88) while funeral attendants, with a median wage of $13.08, make about 37 percent less (see Table 3).

Table 3: Employment and Wages for Mortuary Science in Minnesota

Occupation

Employment

Wage Percentiles

10th

25th

Median

75th

90th

Total, All Occupations

2,772,240

$9.38

$12.40

$18.88

$29.60

$44.78

Morticians, Undertakers, and Funeral Directors

460

$17.09

$23.54

$29.04

$35.45

$41.31

Funeral Attendants

540

$9.85

$11.00

$13.08

$15.82

$18.30

Source: DEED Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)


There is quite a bit of variation in the employment and wages for morticians depending on the area of the state. Not surprisingly the highest employment is in the Seven County Metro area. The highest median wages, however, are in the Southeast regions at $38.23, which is just shy of $10 higher than the median wage in the metro (see Table 4).


Table 4: Regional Employment and Wages

Region

Employment

Median Wage

Total Openings
2012-2022

Minnesota

460

$29.04

110

Seven County Metro

220

$25.56

30

Southeast

20

$38.23

N/A

Southwest

N/A

N/A

N/A

Central

30

$33.94

10

Northeast

N/A

N/A

10

Northwest

10

$22.83

10

Source: DEED Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)


While morticians may not make up a large percentage of the jobs in Minnesota, they are, nonetheless, an important presence in the labor market and provide needed services for those who have experienced the loss of a loved one.

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