Student spills dirt on mortuary science

Funeral service is one career not many Gannon University students aspire to pursue, but what really goes into the decision to study mortuary science?

Some people grow up in a family business and thus pursue the career, but even this trend is changing.

Many people choose funeral service because they share a special interest in helping with the death preparations for people and their families. Death is a hard time for everyone. Funeral directors are there to serve the families and help them through a rather rough experience – service is the purpose.

Some people may be under the impression that the majority of funeral directors are men. In the past, a lot of funeral staff was male-dominated.

This pattern is significantly changing right before our eyes: about 60 percent of students entering mortuary science programs are female.

In order to legally be licensed and practice in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, a funeral director must possess a bachelor’s degree in mortuary science. This requirement varies on a state-to-state basis.

For example, one needs only a high school diploma to practice in Colorado. Students are encouraged to check with their home states to find out what they are required by law to have.

Many things factor into a funeral director’s salary, such as number of services performed, experience and the location in which you live. Starting internships range anywhere from $24,000 to $30,000.

A common misinterpretation is that mortuary scientists are constantly surrounded by the dead.

A funeral director can be doing a wide variety of different things on different days. Yes, embalming is part of the job.

But the funeral staff is responsible for many other things, including making burial and church arrangements, filing death certificates, etc. There is much more to funeral services than the deceased.

As of  now, there is a high demand nationwide for both morticians and funeral directors. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field of funeral service is expected to grow 12 percent by the year 2018, creating more than 3,600 jobs.

Gannon’s mortuary science program is a 3+1 major. Students spend three years at Gannon and then one year at Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Sciences or any other accredited mortuary school. It is in complete compliance with Pennsylvania state law.

For more information on Gannon’s mortuary science program, contact Program Director Parris J. Baker at [email protected]


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