What is a Funeral Director’s Job? Careers in Funeral Services

A funeral director’s job involves helping people plan funeral services with compassion and empathy.  In this career profile, a funeral director describes the challenges and rewards of working in a funeral home, and offers career tips for people interested in this caring profession.

Sherry Varkel, an Ontario licensed funeral director since 1997, says that people are often surprised by the personalities of people in her field. “We all have good and positive attitudes,” she says.  They need to in order to deal with the emotionally difficult job they do.

Learn what a funeral director does, as well as the education requirements and salary expectations.

What is a Funeral Director’s Job Description?

Funeral directors are entrusted with caring for our loved ones when they die. They comfort family members and friends and consult with them in making funeral arrangements. They provide information on various funeral options, arrange for clergy members for religious rites and schedule the funeral and burial or cremation. Funeral directors may also perform embalming duties and manage the funeral home operations. At the funeral, they receive mourners and usher them to their seats and, later, lead the procession on to the burial site.

Becoming a licensed funeral director involves a college degree and a 12-month apprenticeship. In Ontario, Humber College offers a two-year funeral service education program


What is a Funeral Director’s Salary?

Salaries for funeral directors start at $24,000 per year.

The Best Parts of a Career in Memorial Services

“This is not an easy question to answer,” Varkel says, “since being a funeral director involves such a tragic time in most people’s lives. I enjoy getting to know the families we serve because at the end of the day I hope that I have made this very difficult time a little bit easier.” She enjoys working in a family-owned funeral services establishment. “I truly like the people I work with and feel like I am a part of their family.  We are all working toward the same goal…to serve those who need us.”

The Downside of Working in a Funeral Home

The hours a funeral director has to work can be difficult, especially when she is taken away from her family at unexpected and sometimes inconvenient times.  It is also very difficult when someone young dies.

“Just because we do this for a living doesn’t mean we aren’t affected by these tragedies,” says Varkel.

Career Tips for Funeral Directors

“This is an exceptionally rewarding profession, when you know you have done the best job possible and made this experience better than it could have been for those you serve,” Varkel says. “It is also a very demanding occupation, physically, mentally and time-wise.”

Another career that helps people grieve is an animal chaplain (helping pet owners say good-bye).

Sherry Varkel, Funeral Director at Dods & McNair Funeral Home & Chapel, 21 First St. Orangeville., graduated from Humber College, Funeral Services Education and was licensed in Ontario in 1997.

Laura LaRocca is a freelance writer and editor. Visit her at the three-ring circus or follow her on Twitter.

Do you have any questions or thoughts on a funeral director job, or a career in funeral services? Please comment below.

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