All morticians must complete a two-year mortuary science degree program that's accredited by the American Board of Funeral Service Education. Morticians must also complete an apprenticeship with a licensed mortician and pass a state licensing exam. All states, except Colorado, require morticians to pass a licensing exam.
Mortuary science programs include coursework in funeral planning, funeral home management, grief counseling, embalming, mortuary ethics and business law. Previous coursework in biology and chemistry can help students progress through the program. Students who want to own or manage a funeral home should complete additional coursework in business management, business administration, finance and IT.
Students can begin mortuary apprenticeships before, during or after completing their degree. Apprenticeships provide hands-on training in all aspects of the funeral business. Students learn proper embalming and restoration techniques, how to plan funerals and how to manage employees. Students also learn how to comfort and counsel families and loved ones.
Since morticians work closely with those who have lost loved ones, the ability to show compassion and empathy is required for success in the field. Earning advanced degrees in mortuary science, business management or law can help morticians advance in the field, especially if they want to manage or own a funeral home.