What Does a Funeral Director Do?

Funeral Directors Manage the Funeral for You

For assistance in arranging funerals people often turn to funeral directors, also referred to as "morticians" or "undertakers." They are professionals who manage some, or all, funeral arrangements. Funeral directors also handle the technical services regarding the care, preparation, presentation, and final disposition of the deceased. Funeral directors may be hired through a funeral home or mortuary, memorial societies, and alternative funeral service organizations.

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Funeral directors provide guidance in making funeral arrangements and then direct the funeral according to the arrangements. A funeral director:

Is always on call …

  • Available 24-hours a day to immediately respond when a death occurs.

Is a source of personal assistance by …

  • Removing the deceased from the place of death to a funeral home or other facility.
  • Consulting with survivors and assisting in funeral plans.
  • Arranging the embalming, sanitary washing, dressing, cosmetology, hairdressing, and restoration (if required) of the body.

Is a source of merchandise and facilities by …

  • Providing funeral products, such as caskets, vaults, urns, memorial chests, etc.
  • Providing stationery products such as guest register books, memorial folders, prayer cards, acknowledgement cards, etc.

Handles administrative matters including …

  • Filing the death certificate and obtaining certified copies.
  • Publishing death notices and obituaries.
  • Filing death benefit claims for social security and insurance.

Directs funeral proceedings including …

  • Coordinating plans with clergy, cemetery, and/or crematory.
  • Providing transportation for deceased and family members.
  • Securing facilities for visitations and services.
  • Providing music, flowers, and other elements of the funeral.
  • Supervising visitations, funeral ceremonies and processions.

Qualifications of funeral directors

Funeral directors are licensed professionals, typically educated at an undergraduate college and a mortuary college. Licensing requirements are established on a state-by-state basis and are governed by a funeral service regulatory board in each state. To become licensed, many states require a funeral director to serve an internship and to pass a state board examination. Oftentimes, a funeral director’s license is required to manage a funeral home.

See related topics:

Funeral Services — Sources at a Glance
Funeral Homes
Cemeteries
Alternative Funeral Providers

Go to Funeral Guide — Index of Topics.