Become a Funeral Director

A Career as a Funeral Director

There are few professions that provide an individual with a greater sense of self-worth and service to mankind than funeral service. This career path enables you to become a caregiver to your community, and the personal rewards that come from providing guidance and compassion to people in crisis are tremendous.

Funeral service professionals work with the bereaved, providing sensitive, effective intervention during a time of emotional need. They are professional caregivers who enable families and communities to express their concern for life and the living. Funeral professionals carry out administrative and logistical tasks required by law, custom and accepted practice. They are also involved in a variety of activities within the community.

During each biennial renewal period, a licensed funeral director is mandated to complete 6 hours of continuing education. This provision does not require a funeral director to complete continuing education during the renewal period in which the funeral director is first issued a license, except for child abuse training.

As part of the required 6 hours, all funeral directors are required to complete the Department of Human Services (DHS) approved training in child abuse recognition and reporting requirements. All initial applicants are required to complete the 3-hour course and all current licensees are required to complete the 2-hour course for renewal of their license.

At their September 23, 2015 meeting, the State Board of Funeral Directors voted to accept the 3-hour child abuse recognition course as part of a licensees required 6 hours of continuing education for his or her biennial renewal even though only a 2-hour child abuse recognition course is required. Therefore, if a licensee has taken a 3-hour child abuse recognition and reporting requirement course during a renewal period, the licensee is only required to complete 3 more continuing education hours to meet the required 6 hours of continuing education per renewal cycle.

Duties and responsibilities of a funeral service professional include:

  • Provides support to the bereaved during initial stages of their grief.
  • Arranges and directs funeral ceremonies.
  • Arranges for removal of the deceased from the place of death.
  • Prepares the body according to the wishes of the survivors and requirements of the law.
  • Secures information for legal documents.
  • Files death certificates and other legal papers.
  • Assists survivors with details for filing claims for death benefits.
  • Helps individuals adapt to changes in their lives following a death through post-death counseling and support group activities.

Why should you enter funeral service?

  • You are a caregiver who desires to serve others.
  • You believe that ceremony is an effective means of expressing feelings and meeting needs.
  • You are tolerant of ways in which people of different faiths and cultures express their feelings and practice their beliefs.
  • You are interested in the technical sciences.
  • You exhibit sensitivity and compassion for those with whom you are in contact.
  • You are interested in learning all aspects of a business.

Mortuary Schools

Currently, there are two schools in Pennsylvania that offer funeral service education and mortuary science programs. They include:

Northampton Community College

Northampton Community College provides the educational requirements for those pursuing funeral service as a career. A one-year residency in a funeral home is required in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania following graduation.
Funeral Service Education
Program: Associate in Applied Science

Northampton Community College
3835 Green Pond Road
Bethlehem, PA 18020 
Phone: 610-861-5300
Fax: 610-861-4581

Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science (PIMS)

The Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science offers an extensive program designed to prepare students for the many challenges they will encounter as funeral service professionals.

Programs: Diploma in Embalming and Funeral Directing, Associate in Specialized Technology, & Associate in Specialized Business

Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science (PIMS)
5808 Baum Boulevard
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15206
Phone: 412-362-8500
Fax: 412-362-1684