Mortuary science is the study of preserving and preparing recently departed bodies for funeral services. Morticians, also professionally known as funeral directors, are responsible for handling the body, arranging funeral services for grieving family members, and taking the deceased to his or her final resting place. For this reason, many states require funeral directors to be trained in embalming and body restoration. Other services handled by funeral directors involve preparing obituary notices, communicating with clergy members and pallbearers, overseeing the wake and funeral ceremonies, providing transportation for the deceased and close family members, and managing the paperwork involved in a person’s death. Additionally, funeral homes can assist those who wish to plan and pay for their funerals in advance.

Because the majority of funeral homes are small, self-run enterprises, funeral directors should have managerial, marketing, and accounting skills. To succeed in mortuary science, students must be able to desensitize themselves from the cadavers they work with, in addition to handling strong odors and bodies that may require a lot of reconstructive work. By earning your mortuary science education through an online degree program, you can acquire these basic skills and use them toward earning licensure. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), licensure requirements for funeral directors vary from state to state. Most states will require applicants for licensure to be at least 21 years old with two years of formal education. In addition to serving an apprenticeship, applicants must pass an examination to become licensed.

What Can I Do With an Online Degree in Mortuary Science?

With an online degree in mortuary science, you can find employment as an embalmer or funeral director. According to the BLS, the job outlook for funeral directors and embalmers is growing about as fast as the national average for all occupations. With an expected 12% increase in employment by 2018, graduates of online mortuary schools can expect good job prospects thanks to an aging population. Additionally, retiring funeral directors and embalmers will need to be replaced by skilled, trained graduates from embalming school and mortuary school.

In May 2008, funeral directors’ median annual wages in the United States were $52,210, with salaries being dependent on location, experience, and level of mortuary science education. Salaries can also depend on the number of services performed by the funeral director, as well as the number of facilities he or she operates. The best places to earn a higher salary as a funeral director are in larger cities, as opposed to smaller towns and rural areas which may not require as many funeral services as often. According to, the eight highest-paying American cities for funeral directors are Jacksonville, Fla.; Milwaukee; Pittsburgh; Indianapolis; Los Angeles; New York City; St. Louis; and Dallas.

What Is It Like To Get An Online Degree in Mortuary Science?

Students attending funeral service colleges can expect to meet the same requirements as on-campus mortuary programs, including assignments, projects, class discussions, and exams. Students will have to meet basic technology requirements to attend courses over the Internet, but most online mortuary programs offer students the same resources, such as libraries and databases. Most programs will require you to attend seminars and satisfy clinical lab requirements as part of your mortuary science education. For example, some programs will require you to visit the campus in order to take embalming and restorative art examinations. For some courses, students are allowed to observe and complete assignments at funeral homes close to their home, some of which may be affiliated with the school’s program. Funeral homes tend to look more favorably upon graduates with a solid educational background, so before attending any mortuary school online, make sure it is accredited by the American Board of Funeral Service Education (ABFSE).

Students in mortuary science colleges can expect to take courses in thanatology, human anatomy, psychology, microbiology, business law, chemistry, pathology, thanatochemistry, restorative art, funeral management, embalming, ethics, and history of mortuary science. Students can also expect to take courses about grief and counseling. Most online mortuary science programs are offered both part time and full time. Courses may be available at only certain times of the year, so it is important to arrange your schedule accordingly so that you can earn your degree in the shortest time possible.