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Career Advice

How to become a Funeral Director?

Granted, it’s not exactly a job to suit everyone…but then again what is?

Unfortunately funeral directors are, and shall question-markalways be in high demand, and whilst, for some, the idea of such an occupation is inconceivable, for others it offers the potential for a fulfilling and varied work life.

The role

We are all familiar with the role of funeral director I’m sure, but just to clarify for a moment- a funeral director makes arrangements for, and oversees proceedings at a funeral or cremation.  As you can imagine, it’s an incredibly demanding role – here are some of the things that you could be expected to carry out on a day-to-day basis:

  • Arranging the transfer of the body to and from the funeral home

  • Preparing the body for viewing by relatives and friends

  • Meeting with the deceased’s family and friends to advise on funeral arrangements

  • Liaising with the church and cemetery or crematorium in order to make arrangements for the funeral or cremation to take place

  • Arranging a viewing of the remains for family and friends

  • Carrying out other arrangements for the funeral such as the ordering of floral displays, posting of death notices and transportation for family and friends of the deceased

  • Providing information and support on legal matters regarding the registration of the death and any other administration which needs to be carried out

  • Overseeing the funeral and burial, making sure that everything runs smoothly

  • Removing the burden of responsibility for the funeral from those who are grieving

Owing to the fundamentally unpredictable nature of the role, funeral directors do not work a set rota of hours per week. It requires an extreme level of dedication with most making themselves available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  Due to the high sensitivity of the situations in which they find themselves, they must be ready to assume their role at a moment’s notice, any time of the day or night.

Furthermore, being a funeral director will require you to spend a large amount of your time outdoors, particularly on days when you are overseeing a funeral/funerals.

The salary of a funeral director varies greatly depending on your level of experience and the business which you work for. However those with a good level of experience, can expect to earn at least £30,000 per year.

Skills and personable attributes

It isn’t surprising that it takes a very special and specific person to properly fulfill the duties required of a funeral skilldirector.  It isn’t enough that you are proficient when dealing with logistics –  you must also be professional, sensitive and above all compassionate.  Some of the key skills and attributes which can come together to make a great funeral director are:

  • The highest level of communication skills particularly verbal skills. This is of the utmost importance within this role because you will often find yourself working within very challenging circumstances, assisting people who are suffering a terrible loss.

  • Compassion and empathy.  It is vital that you are able to be a calming and reliable presence within the situation, proceeding in your work with tact, sensitivity and respect.  You must be a model of dignity and professionalism at all times.

  • Exemplary personal presentation.

  • The stability to deal with tragic and distressing situations

  • Attention to detail

  • Outstanding organisation and administration skills

  • A very high level of dedication and the willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty.

  • The ability to be content in carrying out your work without the need for thanks or praise – those you will be dealing with are experiencing an emotional trauma and therefore may not be very forthright in their appreciation of your work.

  • A respect for and acceptance of other peoples religious beliefs

How to become a Funeral Director?

Funeral directors will generally begin their career in a junior role within a business and train ‘on the job’ to gain the question-marknecessary experience to progress within the field. There are a number of roles within a funeral business which could be considered good starting points from which to launch a career as a funeral director, these include funeral arranger, administrator and funeral assistant.

There are two main bodies which oversee and regulate funeral directors within the UK – the National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD) and the British Institute of Funeral Directors (BIFD). Whilst there are no minimum qualifications which are required in order to work as a funeral director, there are a number of courses available from these industry bodies to improve your skills, knowledge and professional credibility. If you have not yet secured an entry level position within a funeral home you may find it useful to complete a NAFD funeral service awareness online training course.

If you have been working within the industry for at least 6 months you will be able to complete a  Diploma in Funeral Arranging and Administration and/or a Diploma in Funeral Directing – both of which are offered by the National Association of Funeral Directors.

If you have been working within the funeral provision industry for a minimum of five years and have successfully studied for  the NAFD Diploma in Funeral Directing, you will be able to progress your career further by completing the Certificate in Teaching in the Lifelong Learning Sector. Doing so would mean that you would be fully qualified to work as a tutor to those working towards the other NAFD qualifications.

Perhaps more so than with any other job we are yet to feature in our career directory, in this case it is of great importance that you properly research the role and the activities that it involves before you embark upon the journey to making it your career.  A good place to start is the National Association of Funeral Directors website where you can request  a copy of the Manual of Funeral Directing which should give you a good idea of what the job entails.

Best of luck if you still wish to become a funeral director, otherwise why don’t you have a look at some of the other jobs in our career directory and see if any of them speak to you?

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