Summary of occupation
Funeral directors help people to make funeral arrangements upon the death of a loved one. They arrange for the collection of the deceased from the hospital, mortuary or place of death and complete necessary paperwork to register the death. Funeral directors interview families to discuss matters such the type of coffin, floral arrangements, type of service, after-service catering and all other aspects of the funeral and reception. In some cases, they may also assist in dressing and preparing the body for viewings and open casket services. Funeral directors may also be responsible for managing the actual business, which includes organising finances, marketing, and hiring and training staff.
Plans and coordinates arrangements for funerals according to the wishes of the deceased or their relatives. Registration or licensing may be required.
A funeral director needs:
- excellent communication and interpersonal skills
- excellent organisational skills
- to be mature and responsible
- good time management skills
- a high level of empathy
- to have a neat and tidy appearance.
Funeral directors work in mortuaries, and the offices and workshops attached to funeral homes. They are also expected to travel to hospitals, private residences, places of worship, cemeteries and crematoriums. They work closely with people from a wide variety of cultural and socio-economic backgrounds, who are often experiencing an emotionally difficult or traumatic time. Funeral directors must understand and respect the different ways in which people deal with death and the loss of a loved one, offering emotional support where required, while maintaining a professional manner. Funeral directors generally work irregular hours, which may include working nights, weekends and public holidays. They are often on call and must be available to clients. At larger funeral homes the on-call roster may be rotated between several funeral directors.
On average, funeral workers, including funeral directors, can expect to earn between $800 and $999 per week, ($41 600 and $51 999 per year), depending on the organisation they work for, and their level of experience.
Funeral directors arrange the presentation of various elements of a funeral including flowers, coffins/caskets, photographs and monuments. They may also drive a hearse or limousine to transport the deceased and close family and friends to a funeral service. They will also use general office equipment, such as computers and telephones, for a range of activities, including writing notices for newspaper publication and managing business activities. Funeral directors need to maintain a well-groomed appearance and will generally be required to wear formal business attire.
You can work as a funeral attendant without any formal qualifications, and get training on the job.
You may improve your job prospects if you complete a traineeship in funeral services. The traineeship usually takes 24 months to complete.
Apprenticeships and traineeships
As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.
If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.
If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.
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If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.