Funeral attendants lift and carry coffins prior and during the funeral service, placing it in the chapel and into the cemetery. They handle floral offerings around the coffin, direct mourners and assist with storing the equipment after the funeral.
The duties of a funeral attendant include, but are not limited to:
- Transporting the deceased to the funeral home.
- Preparing the parlor or chapel by cleaning, setting up lights and chairs, and arranging flowers for viewings and services.
- Assisting guests arriving at funerals by showing them where to park and leading them to the parlor or chapel area.
- Ensuring adherence to the funeral wishes of the bereaved family.
- Driving the hearse to the gravesite, chapel, or parlor.
- Overseeing the digging and closing of the grave.
- Obtaining burial permits and registering deaths with the state.
- Managing the funeral home finances, receiving payments, and performing general bookkeeping duties.
- Assisting families with completion of paperwork, such as insurance claim forms.
- Cleaning funeral equipment.
The following job titles also refer to funeral attendant:
attendant for funeral organisation
funeral home assistant
Funeral attendants work in funeral homes, where they prepare the dead for burial or cremation. They work with funeral services directors to ensure that funeral services are carried out according to the wishes of the deceased’s family.
Funeral attendants must be able to deal with the emotional stress of their work, as they are constantly exposed to death and grieving families. They must be able to maintain their composure during funeral services and be respectful of the dead and the bereaved.
Funeral attendants typically work full time, and they may be required to work evenings and weekends to accommodate funeral services. They may also be on call 24 hours a day in case of a death.
Most funeral attendants have at least a high school diploma. Some employers prefer an associate’s degree in funeral service or a related field. An associate’s degree in funeral service takes two years to complete and includes courses in anatomy, physiology, embalming, grief counseling, ethics and business management.
Most funeral homes will provide on-the-job training for new employees. This training will typically include a period of shadowing other funeral home employees and performing tasks under supervision until the employee is comfortable enough to complete tasks on their own. Some funeral homes may require that funeral attendants have previous experience in a customer service or funeral setting.
ISCO skill level
ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:
- the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
- the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
- the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.
Funeral attendant is a Skill level 2 occupation.
Funeral attendant career path
These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to funeral attendant.
Long term prospects
These occupations require some skills and knowledge of funeral attendant. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of funeral attendant with a significant experience and/or extensive training.
Essential skills and competences
These skills are necessary for the role of funeral attendant.
- Maintain personal hygiene standards: Preserve impeccable personal hygiene standards and have a tidy appearance.
- Greet guests: Welcome guests in a friendly manner in a certain place.
- Transfer coffins: Lift and carry coffins prior and during the funeral service, placing it in the chapel and into the cemetery.
- Promote human rights: Promote and respect human rights and diversity in light of the physical, psychological, spiritual and social needs of autonomous individuals, taking into account their opinions, beliefs and values, and the international and national codes of ethics, as well as the ethical implications of healthcare provision, ensuring their right to privacy and honouring for the confidentiality of healthcare information.
- Maintain customer service: Keep the highest possible customer service and make sure that the customer service is at all times performed in a professional way. Help customers or participants feel at ease and support special requirements.
- Provide directions to guests: Show guests the way through buildings or on domains, to their seats or performance setting, helping them with any additional information so that they can reach the foreseen event destination.
- Show diplomacy: Deal with people in a sensitive and tactful way.
- Manage funeral equipment: Issue, store and manage funeral equipment, which may include memorial cards, candles, crucifixes and lowering straps.
Optional skills and competences
These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of funeral attendant. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.
- Work ergonomically: Apply ergonomy principles in the organisation of the workplace while manually handling equipment and materials.
- Advise on funeral services: Provide relatives of the deceased person with information and advice on ceremonial, burial and cremation services.
- Provide emotional support to the bereaved: Show compassion and sympathy to the relatives of the deceased and people attending the funeral activities.
- Clean rooms: Clean rooms by cleaning glasswork and windows, polishing furniture, vacuuming carpets, scrubing hard floors, and removing garbage.
- Relate empathetically: Recognise, understand and share emotions and insights experienced by another.
- Lift heavy weights: Lift heavy weights and apply ergonomic lifting techniques to avoid damaging the body.
- Drive vehicles in processions: Drive cars, hearses or other vehicles at a steady pace in processions.
- Prepare ceremonial locations: Decorate rooms or other locations for ceremonies, such as funerals, cremations, weddings or baptism.
ISCO group and title
5163 – Undertakers and embalmers
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