Funeral services directors coordinate the logistics of funerals. They support the deceased family by arranging the details concerning the location, dates and times of memorial services. Funeral services directors contact representatives of the cemetery to prepare the site, plan transportation for the deceased person, advise on the types of memorials and legal requirements or paperwork.
Funeral services directors organise the daily operations of the crematorium. They oversee the staff’s activities in the crematorium and ensure that they deliver services according to legal requirements. They monitor the crematorium service revenue budget and develop and maintain operational rules within the crematorium.
A funeral services director typically does the following:
- Provides knowledgeable and caring support to family and friends of deceased; meets with family and/or friends of the deceased to discuss the nature and time of funeral arrangements to be conducted.
- Tactfully discusses the options and preference for disposition of the remains; addresses and explains the costs of the funeral with family and/or friends of the deceased.
- Coordinates practical arrangements for the funeral that are respectful, professional, timely, and sensitive. This may include transferring the body to the burial site, providing transportation of the family, or arranging visitations and services.
- Coordinates the transfer of the body or remains to the funeral home.
- Oversees the embalming process.
- Provides instructions to the Funeral Arrangements Supervisor and Funeral Attendant regarding times, rooms, and arrangements to be made.
- Schedules clergy and pallbearers, answering any questions about their specific duties.
- Makes arrangements with cemeteries for scheduling, opening, and closing of facilities and gravesites, as necessary.
- Oversees the issuance of death notices, obituaries, and related paperwork to government agencies and preferred newspapers or other appropriate media.
- Ensures paperwork is filed in a timely and orderly manner, consulting with family to obtain accurate and necessary information for completion.
- Develops and maintains budget and financial records for the funeral home.
The following job titles also refer to funeral services director:
burial ground custodian
funeral home worker
Funeral services directors work in funeral homes, which are typically open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They are on call at all hours to respond to deaths, which may occur at any time. Funeral services directors often work long hours, including evenings and weekends. They may work more than 40 hours per week, and their work may be stressful because they must deal with grieving families.
Funeral services directors must be able to handle the emotional stress of their work and be compassionate and understanding with the families they serve.
Most funeral services directors earn an associate’s degree in mortuary science or a related field. These programs typically take two years to complete and include courses in anatomy, pathology, embalming, funeral service, ethics, law and business.
Most funeral services directors receive on-the-job training from their employer after they are hired. This training typically includes shadowing a current funeral services director and performing duties under supervision until they are comfortable enough to complete tasks on their own.
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 services director is a Skill level 2 occupation.
Funeral services director career path
These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to funeral services director.
Long term prospects
These occupations require some skills and knowledge of funeral services director. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of funeral services director with a significant experience and/or extensive training.
Essential knowledge and skills
This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of funeral services director.
- Business knowledge: A firm’s functions, the processes and tasks which are employed to accomplish those functions and the relationship of those functions, processes and tasks to each of the functions, processes and tasks performed throughout the firm.
Essential skills and competences
These skills are necessary for the role of funeral services director.
- Maintain personal hygiene standards: Preserve impeccable personal hygiene standards and have a tidy appearance.
- Manage budgets: Plan, monitor and report on the budget.
- Greet guests: Welcome guests in a friendly manner in a certain place.
- Develop organisational policies: Develop and supervise the implementation of policies aimed at documenting and detailing the procedures for the operations of the organisation in the lights of its strategic planning.
- Manage staff: Manage employees and subordinates, working in a team or individually, to maximise their performance and contribution. Schedule their work and activities, give instructions, motivate and direct the workers to meet the company objectives. Monitor and measure how an employee undertakes their responsibilities and how well these activities are executed. Identify areas for improvement and make suggestions to achieve this. Lead a group of people to help them achieve goals and maintain an effective working relationship among staff.
- Advise on funeral services: Provide relatives of the deceased person with information and advice on ceremonial, burial and cremation services.
- 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.
- Administer appointments: Accept, schedule and cancel appointments.
- Oversee cremations: Keep records on the cremations that are or will be executed and make sure that the cremated remains are identified correctly.
- Develop professional network: Reach out to and meet up with people in a professional context. Find common ground and use your contacts for mutual benefit. Keep track of the people in your personal professional network and stay up to date on their activities.
- Apply organisational techniques: Employ a set of organisational techniques and procedures which facilitate the achievement of the goals set. Use these resources efficiently and sustainably, and show flexibility when required.
- Apply health and safety standards: Adhere to standards of hygiene and safety established by respective authorities.
- Train employees: Lead and guide employees through a process in which they are taught the necessary skills for the perspective job. Organise activities aimed at introducing the work and systems or improving the performance of individuals and groups in organisational settings.
- Show diplomacy: Deal with people in a sensitive and tactful way.
- Manage financial aspects of a company: Manage the company-related legal and financial issues; calculate and analyse numbers and figures; look how to save costs and how to maximise income and productivity; balance costs against possible benefits before making a decision.
- Prepare ceremonial locations: Decorate rooms or other locations for ceremonies, such as funerals, cremations, weddings or baptism.
Optional knowledge and skills
This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of funeral services director. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.
- Business management principles: Principles governing business management methods such as strategy planning, methods of efficient production, people and resources coordination.
Optional skills and competences
These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of funeral services director. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.
- Respond to visitor complaints: Respond to visitors complaints, in a correct and polite manner, offering a solution when possible and taking action when necessary.
- Work ergonomically: Apply ergonomy principles in the organisation of the workplace while manually handling equipment and materials.
- Provide visitor information: Provide directions and other relevant information to visitors.
- Liaise with local authorities: Maintain the liaison and exchange of information with regional or local authorities.
- Perform religious ceremonies: Perform the ritual acts and apply the traditional religious texts during ceremonial events, such as funerals, confirmation, baptism, birth rites and other religious ceremonies.
- Control minor maintenance: Follow up on the maintenance and repairs to be carried out. Solve minor problems and pass harder problems on to the person responsible for maintenance.
- Embalm bodies: Prepare bodies for funeral ceremonies, by cleaning and disinfecting them, using make-up to create the impression of a natural appearance and hiding or correcting any visible damages or injuries.
- Apply business acumen: Take appropriate actions in a business environment in order to maximise possible outcome from each situation.
- Transfer coffins: Lift and carry coffins prior and during the funeral service, placing it in the chapel and into the cemetery.
- Provide emotional support to the bereaved: Show compassion and sympathy to the relatives of the deceased and people attending the funeral activities.
- Assist with funeral planning: Aid the families of patients with terminal illnesses with issues related to the organisation of the funeral.
- Coordinate catering: Contact catering companies and shop around different providers in order to find the most suitable caterer for the event. Arrange and agree contracts with caterers for the provision of the service.
- Analyse financial performance of a company: Based on accounts, records, financial statements and external information of the market, analyse the performance of the company in financial matters in order to identify improvement actions that could increase profit.
- Maintain professional administration: File and organise professional administration documents comprehensively, keep customer records, fill in forms or log books and prepare documents about company-related matter.
- Operate cremation equipment: Handle equipment used for the cremation of deceased individuals, such as cremators, incinerators, cremulators and magnets.
- Hire new personnel: Hire new personnel for a company or organisation payroll via a prepared set of procedures. Make staffing decisions and direct selection co-workers.
- Relate empathetically: Recognise, understand and share emotions and insights experienced by another.
- Keep personal administration: File and organise personal administration documents comprehensively.
- Dress bodies: Put on clothes on bodies of deceased persons, chosen or provided by the deceased one’s relatives.
- Prepare coffins for cremation: Handle coffins, remove any metal handles or ornaments and put the coffin in the cremation oven.
- Manage emergency evacuation plans: Monitor quick and safe emergency evacuation plans.
- Manage maintenance operations: Oversee maintenance activities, making sure that staff is following procedures and ensuring routine and periodic refurbishment and maintenance activities.
- Manage funeral equipment: Issue, store and manage funeral equipment, which may include memorial cards, candles, crucifixes and lowering straps.
- Maintain inventory of tools: Keep an inventory of tools utilised in manufacturing or in the provision of services. Ensure that tool sets remain complete and suitable for use.
- Drive vehicles in processions: Drive cars, hearses or other vehicles at a steady pace in processions.
ISCO group and title
5163 – Undertakers and embalmers
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- Featured image: By Side view of John Doyle Funeral Director and Publican by Eric Jones, CC BY-SA 2.0