What is an Embalmer
An embalmer is someone who prepares bodies to be displayed at funerals or to be studied for medical research. Embalmers use embalming fluid, formaldehyde and embalming makeup to preserve cadavers and make bodies appear as they did when the person was alive.
Embalmers at Funeral Homes
Embalmers can also be morticians and usually work at funeral homes prepare bodies for funerals. Many times they perform their work on short notice and tight deadlines. Usually bodies are prepared within 24 to 36 hours of death, so embalmers must act quickly to prepare a body for a funeral. Funeral directors help people plan funerals, which have dates and times carefully planned for family members and friends and you will need to prepare the body in time for the funeral.
Embalming dates back to ancient Egyptian times. The art of the craft is similar, but modern technology and advances have changed the job considerably. Today’s embalmers work in funeral homes and work with funeral directors.
If you decide to work in a funeral home, you will get to help people on a daily basis. People mourning the loss of a loved one are often looking for ways to remember and memorialize the person, and your job as an embalmer can help them do that.
Embalmers in Medical Centers
Some embalmers work in medical centers to prepare bodies for research. Cadavers are often transported long distances, so they must be preserved for longer periods of time. Embalmers with this career learn how to preserve bodies in a slightly different way, but their work is very similar to embalmers at funeral homes.
Cadavers are used in medical schools and at research centers. Students who are learning to become doctors study bodies to learn about human anatomy and medical researchers study bodies to learn more about how organs work and the effects of diseases.
Working as an embalmer in the medical field is a very interesting and important career. If it weren’t for carefully prepared cadavers, many medical students wouldn’t have the chance to receive hands-on training that can help them be the best doctors possible. Embalmers also indirectly help advance the medical science field when the cadavers they prepare help researches find answers to important questions and even make new discoveries.
Average Embalmer Salary
On average, embalmers earn an annual salary of $37,000. If you work as an embalmer full time, you will likely qualify for benefits like health, dental and vision insurance.
If you work in a funeral home, your salary will probably be between $17,000 and $50,000 a year. If you work at another type of company as an embalmer, you may earn between $28,000 and $51,000 a year. Or, if you work at a private practice or firm, you will most likely earn $23,000 to $39,000 a year.
If you find a job at an organization that has one to nine employees you will probably earn between $24,000 and $42,000 a year.
How to Become an Embalmer
To start a career as an embalmer, you will need to earn a degree in mortuary science. Embalmers earn either an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree, both of which will prepare you well for this career.
An associate’s degree usually takes about two years to earn while a bachelor’s degree takes about four years to earn. Both programs are very similar, but if you earn your bachelor’s degree you may be more attractive to employers. In general, employers look for applicants who have high levels of training, so earning a bachelor’s degree can help you be more competitive in the job market.
A mortuary science degree program will teach you about the biological and chemical processes involved in decay and preservation. You’ll also learn all about human anatomy and embalming practices like using chemicals and makeup.
When you enroll in a mortuary science school you will also learn about how a funeral home operates and what your role in the organization will be. You’ll learn how to work with clients to help them remember their loved ones.
Embalmers are required to be licensed by the state they live and work in. Since each state has different requirements you will need to contact your city or state offices to find out how to obtain a license.
The Rewards of an Embalming Career
Working as an embalmer is an interesting and rewarding career. With this job you will get to help people through the grieving process and help them find ways to remember their loved ones. Embalmers get to work in a field that combines science and art, so you will have a unique opportunity to develop and use very precise skills.
If you want to pursue a career as an embalmer the best way to start is to enroll in a mortuary science degree program. After you have earned your degree and obtained a license you will be prepared to work as an embalmer in a funeral home or at a medical center.