How to Become An EMBAlmer

Embalmers are professionals who preserve human remains and prevent decomposition of dead bodies through the use of chemicals. These experts are employed at funeral homes, laboratories, and research facilities. Their job revolves around cleaning and preserving the bodies, performing restorative or reconstructive services, and preparing bodies for viewing, cremation, or burial.

If you have plans of joining this profession, then you might want to read this detailed guide. It will explain to you how to become an embalmer in the U.S.

Should I Become an Embalmer?

Embalmers often work long hours and endure large amounts of stress because of the nature of their job. The nature of deaths, such as those caused by accidents, trauma, and abuse, can take a toll on the mental health of embalmers. Moreover, the kind of work that embalmers do is usually physically exhausting, and even dangerous. Since they work with dead bodies and are exposed to body fluids and gases, therefore they are more susceptible to catching infectious diseases. If you feel that you have what it takes to join this demanding and challenging profession, then keep reading this article.

 According to O*Net Online, embalmers are expected to carry out the following activities:

  • Embalm corpses.
  • Apply conditioning and cleansing agents to skin, scalp, or hair of dead bodies.
  • Apply makeup to the body to enhance or alter appearance.
  • Maintain service records and client information.
  • Direct mortuary or funeral activities.
  • Monitor service workers.

O*Net Online has published the following data for embalmers. Take a look at the table to learn more about the key skills required by these professionals, along with their salary potential and growth prospects.

Education Required

An Associate’s degree, preferably from a vocational school.

Training/Work Experience

Related on-the-job experience.

Key Skills

Judgment and Decision Making, Critical Thinking, Speaking, and Listening Skills.

Annual Mean Salary (2018)


Job Outlook (2018-28)

4 % (Funeral Service Workers)


Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Outlook for Embalmers

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Death Care Service industry was the highest paying industry for Embalmers, paying an annual mean salary of $46,640 in 2018. Moreover, the industry that had the highest level of employment of Embalmers was also the Death Care Service industry, with an employment of 4,020 workers in 2018.

States with the Highest Employment Level of Embalmers

In 2018, the state that had the highest employment level of Embalmers was California (480), followed by Texas (360), Missouri (250), Ohio (210) and Florida (200).

Top paying States for Embalmers

In 2018, the top paying state for Embalmers was New York, which paid an annual mean salary of $91,760. Other states that were included in the list of highest-paying U.S. states were Ohio ($56,010), Missouri ($52,810), Oregon ($51,960), and California ($50,280).

Steps to Become an Embalmer

The process of becoming an Embalmer consists of the following steps:

Step 1: Graduate from High School

The first step of the process is to complete your high school education. Without a GED or a high school diploma, you will not be accepted into any vocational training school.

Step 2: Enroll in an Accredited College or School of Mortuary Science

The next step is to enroll in a vocational school and earn an Associate’s degree in Mortuary Sciences. The curriculum of the program covers topics like Restorative Art, Embalming, Funeral Service Administration, Funeral Directing, Funeral Service Ethics and Laws, and Methods of Disposition.

Step 3: Complete an Internship or Apprenticeship Program

In order to obtain a professional license, you will have to complete an internship or apprenticeship program under the direction and supervision of a licensed embalmer or a funeral director. Working with a licensed professional will help you learn about the job duties and skills. During the apprenticeship program, you might be required to perform a specific number of embalmings, participate in a specific number of funeral services, or complete an allotted number of hours volunteering or working at funeral homes.

It is always a good idea to keep a detailed record of the number of hours that you have completed while working as an apprentice, because you will need to submit this data at the time of your licensure application.

Step 4: Obtain a License and Gain Work Experience

Licensing requirements vary from one state to another, so you might want to check with your local authorities regarding the licensing laws and procedures. In order to get the license, you will be required to pass the written National Board Examination and the State Board Exam on rules and regulations. Once you get the license, you can start your job hunt.

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