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If you are a compassionate person and people warm up to you easily, if you have a good emotional quotient and have the fortitude to stand tall in difficult situations, you have the essential qualities to consider pursuing mortuary science and becoming a mortician. Besides, managing your time well and having knowledge of laws and ethics of funeral services will be an added boon.
But you shouldn’t mistake this with forensic science. While both studies deal with dead bodies, as a mortician, you will be dealing with only the external of the body while forensic science deals with the internal examination of the deceased to determine the cause of death. Since mortuary science is the study of deceased bodies, you’ll be constantly working in the shadows of death – from moving the body to a mortuary, getting the remains ready for the funeral ceremony, performing the rites as per the family’s wishes and thereafter making arrangements for the disposing of the body.
Typically, mortuary science study programs take 2-4 years with either an associate or bachelor’s degree. An associate degree program usually comprises basic biological knowledge of the human body and treatment of the deceased along with a few classes that deal with grief, as well as business practices. The bachelor’s degree course is more elaborate and will prepare you in all aspects to become a well-versed professional.
The program usually comprises a basic liberal arts syllabus, study of the human anatomy, and treatment of the deceased. It also includes learning about the funeral business and the psychology of people in mourning so you are well-prepared to support the grieving.
Many colleges require students to apprentice before completion of the course. As an apprentice, you will have to work with a licensed and experienced funeral director to gain experience in all aspects of the funeral service. Even after you have graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in mortuary science, you will still need to acquire a license to set up your own funeral service.
The exams for licensure include a written test and a demonstration of skills in the service. Furthermore, many states in the USA expect funeral directors to continuously participate in a continuing education program to maintain their licenses. With a degree in mortuary science and a license, you can become a funeral director and mortician.