How Do I Become A Funeral Director?

I’m often asked by people “How Do I Become A Funeral Director” so I thought that I would take a minute to give a proper answer for all of you out there who are interested in a Funeral Career.

Being a Funeral Professional is unlike anything else.  It’s one of those things where people have an idea in mind about what it is you do, and most of the time it has people thinking that we see some pretty confronting stuff.  Whilst that isn’t untrue, most of the time, our role is really to support families, to help them navigate their way through a grief journey, and to provide them with options on how they can best celebrate the life of their loved ones.

Funeral Director’s haven’t always been needed though, up until the late 1800’s or so, most of the work was done by the families themselves and then as we started to shift toward a more outsourcing model of things, Funeral professionals emerged as an in demand industry.

These days, becoming a Funeral Professional isn’t too difficult for those that are passionate and genuinely wanting a career in the industry.  It does come with some challenging requirements though that are worth considering before you take a leap into the world of Funeral Directing.

People often ask “Is there a course or some formal training I can do to become a Funeral Director?” and whilst there is training available, it is usually only available to those in the industry who are wanting to formalise or enhance their existing skills.  I am not aware of any formal training courses that are available to those outside of industry.  So the answer to that one is “Unfortunately No, most of your training will be on-the-job.”

If you are genuinely looking at a career in the funeral industry, here are some things to consider:

  • You will be required to work odd hours, usually as part of a roster that spans 24/7. This could be something as simple as answering phones for the company you work for, after hours arranging or after hours funeral transfers (bringing deceased people into care);
  • You need to have a level of physical fitness to perform the duties required of a Funeral Director. We are required to lift, push, pull and carry a range of different weights, so being able to confidently lift weight without causing injury to yourself or others is important.
  • You will need to be comfortable with death. We see a lot of things that people aren’t usually exposed to, they can be confronting and at times disturbing, so you will need to have a strong mind to be able to cope with some of the psychological requirements of the role. This is really one that you won’t know until you know.
  • You will need to have high levels of care, compassion and understanding.
  • Death is one of those things that bring out the best and the worst in people, so you would need to be able to have pretty broad shoulders to comfort others, to show compassion to those who are bereaved, and to at times take a bit of flack from people. People often look for a place to lay blame and we are sometimes the closest person they can find for that. So resilience and high levels of empathy are essential.
  • You would need to have the right motivation for the role, one that is based on compassion, love and understanding. We aren’t paid as well as most people would think, in fact we are among the lowest paid industries in Australia, so for us, we do what we do because we love it, we love the families that we care for and we love the team that we are part of.

Whilst some of the points above might be a turn off for some, being a Funeral Director really is one of the most rewarding, challenging, and soul nourishing careers you can have.  I like to think that as Funeral Directors, we take the planning burdens away from our families and we carry them until they are complete, this gives our families the time and space they need to grieve and to come to terms with the reality of death.

In my experience, some of the best Funeral Directors I have had the privilege to work with come from a range of backgrounds, Child Care, Event Planning, Nursing, Customer Service and some have even come right out of high school, it is less about the skills that they have and more about the life experience they have had throughout their own personal journey, regardless of their age.  Generally though to be an effective Funeral Director in a modern age, in addition to all of the soft skills I mentioned above like care, compassion, empathy and love, you would also need intermediate administration skills, strong communication, and the ability to work in high pressure and fast paced environments.  These would be among the essential requirements I would say.

As Funeral Directors we each bring our own unique perspective to the funeral arrangement and we support families in a way that is unique and special and we do this in conjunction with our skills and experience that we gain throughout our lives.  You may never get rich or own a yacht being a Funeral Director, and their might be some weeks where sleep is a nothing but a distant dream, but I guarantee you that you will be rewarded in ways that you never believed possible and your heart will constantly be full because of the work that you do.

If you have questions about becoming a Funeral Director or questions about funerals in general, why not get in touch with us on 1300 043 522 or email [email protected]

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