Funeral Attendant

How to become a Funeral Attendant
Job Duties of a Funeral Attendant
Skills and Qualities Needed to Become a Funeral Attendant
Salaries for Funeral Attendants
Influential Professionals in this field
Leading Organizations for Funeral Attendants
Top Cities for Funeral Attendant Jobs
Other Careers of Interest

How to become a Funeral Attendant

For most funeral attendant jobs the only requirement is a high school diploma or GED to be employed at a funeral home or chapel. Some employers do have age requirements.

The majority of training is on-site, tending to be a month-long apprenticeship with an experienced co-worker.

What does a Funeral Attendant do?

Funeral services require an unusual blend of art, science and counseling skills. A funeral attendant directs the logistics of a large gathering of people at a difficult time: they counsel the bereaved, assist with arranging funeral ceremonies and also may be called upon to file death certificates. They are the representatives of a funeral home or chapel to the family of the deceased.

The main function of a funeral attendant is to assist mourners and funeral directors during wakes or funerals. Within this job description, a funeral attendant is expected to perform duties that include greeting people arriving to the funeral home, washing hearses and limousines to assisting in preparing the deceased's body.

Attendants in this field work at funeral homes and chapels, aiding the funeral director and families of the deceased with funeral preparations. A funeral attendant acts as the representative for both parties to make sure the service is a respectful event without any disruption.

Responsibilities may include obtaining the necessary burial permits and registering paperwork to driving the deceased to the funeral home, using a van or a hearse. Attendants help with cremation, take care to arrange flowers or lights around the casket and may also be employed to do light maintenance work. Some funeral attendants are expected to clean funeral homes and chapels after a service, transport flowers from the funeral home to the burial site or put away funeral equipment.

Tending caskets is a significant portion of a funeral attendant's job. Attendants must be physically capable to carry a casket from a hearse in order to place it in a funeral parlor before a service, and then transport it to the cemetery for burial or cremation. If the deceased person is to be viewed during the funeral service, funeral attendants are in charge of opening and closing the casket.

Funeral attendants often work a somewhat irregular schedule because funerals cannot be predicted. They may be called in to work weekends or evenings, with little notice. While most attendants work forty hours per week, some individuals choose to work part time in this career.

What skills or qualities do I need to become a Funeral Attendant?

Funeral attendants must have efficient time-management skills and be detail-oriented to effectively juggle the various job demands that are required to plan a funeral service. This involves maintaining a good driving record and cultivating a flexible attitude due to the nature of this industry.

This field is a service-oriented profession that deals primarily with the public during an extremely difficult time. Funeral attendants must be professional and courteous to individuals that are grieving. Good communication skills are essential to expertly handle difficult conversations that typically arise with the bereaved. Funeral attendants must be comfortable in comforting mourners dealing with loss along with being tactful and patient.

Funeral Attendants must have physical strength, adequate mastery of the English Language, excellent customer relations skill and, lastly, a basic understanding of human psychology.

How much do Funeral Attendants make?

Hourly pay for funeral attendants can vary by employer and the attendant's level of responsibility. Reported in May 2007 by The Bureau of Labor Statistics, the hourly mean wage for an individual working in this field was $10.80, while the annual mean averaged out to be: $22,470.00.

Funeral attendants who work full-time may receive benefits which include paid vacation, sick leave, and health insurance.

By completing a specialized degree in Mortuary Sciences or an apprenticeship program at a funeral home, an attendant can advance their career options and pay to become an embalmer or funeral director--two advanced positions in this profession. Students graduating from such programs are skilled in the psychology of grief where they are taught how to counsel family members. Courses of study also include the history and laws of funeral service, along with business management.

Who are some influential professionals in this field?

Dr. Thomas Holmes, the "father of American embalming," was a mortician from New York City. He was a physician who researched how to preserve cadavers without harming the health of the medical students. He then used these methods when preserving corpses for funerals, allowing the corpses to attain a more lifelike appearance and help their families to grieve without the additional problem of the decay of the deceased.

What are some leading organizations in this field?

The Funeral Service Foundation (FSF) is a national grant-making organization that manages, solicits and distributes funds for charitable work related to and on behalf of funeral services and allied professions.

The FSF is an off shoot of the National Foundation for Funeral Service (NFFS), established nearly 60 years ago, and has been influenced by the work done by the Funeral Service Education Foundation (FSEF).

The NFFS was established as a funeral service educational institute when leaders in this industry realized the need for a national organization to focus on improving mortuary management.

What are the top cities for Funeral Attendant jobs?

The Funeral Services Industry provides a solid and stable profession. For individuals who desire to live and work in Metropolitan areas, two of the top cities for funeral attendants were: Santa Barbara-Santa Monica, California and Trenton-Ewing, New Jersey.

Other state options in the United States include: Utah, Vermont, Massachusetts and Washington.

Other Careers of Interest

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Funeral Attendant Jobs

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