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Mortuary Science

Mortuary science is the study of dead bodies. People who work in mortuary science normally work in jobs as morticians, embalmers or funeral directors. Mortuary science is an interesting field that includes science, biology, chemistry, anatomy, embalming and embalming art.
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Areas of Study Within Mortuary Science

There are several different areas of study that are included in mortuary science. Because this field involves different aspects of the human body and how it reacts to different environments, people who study mortuary science must be knowledgeable in a variety of areas.

Biology

Biology, the study of living things, is an important facet of mortuary science. People who specialize in mortuary science need to understand the science behind living things. Mortuary science focuses on how the human body reacts in different circumstances, specifically as it decays.

Chemistry

Chemistry is the basis of embalming and a big part of mortuary science. Embalming is the act of using chemicals to delay the process of decay, a process that is based in chemistry. Mortuary science includes the study of how chemical reactions can be created or delayed to preserve a body.

Human Anatomy

Mortuary science is heavily involved in human anatomy. Since mortuary scientists study dead bodies, they need to understand where organs are located, what they do and how the systems of the body work. This information is vital to performing funeral directing and embalming work, but is also vital to the advancement of mortuary science in general.

Embalming

Embalming is the process of preserving a body so it can be displayed at a funeral or otherwise preserved. The most common reason for embalming is for funeral services, but embalmers also prepare cadavers to be studied by medical students and researchers.

Understanding how biology, chemistry and human anatomy impact embalming are vital to the study of mortuary science. But, embalming also includes the actual process of using chemicals like embalming fluid and formaldehyde to preserve a body and using embalming makeup to make the body look natural.

Embalming Art

Embalming art includes the application of embalming makeup and arranging a body in a position that looks natural. Again, the most common reason for embalming is to prepare a body for an open-casket funeral.

Interestingly, embalming art does not just involve applying makeup to a body, but using special makeup and equipment to help give a body dimension and make it look as it did when the person was alive.

The History of Mortuary Science

Mortuary science actually dates back to ancient Egyptian times. In those days, people preserved the bodies of the deceased. It wasn’t until the 20th Century that mortuary science became a common area of study in the United States.

In the 1950’s, funeral directing became a popular career, but the popularity slowly declined in following decades. Today, funeral directing is an esteemed career that is needed in cities across the country. New discoveries and techniques in science and technology have helped mortuary science move forward and become more advanced.

There are now many schools that offer mortuary science degree programs that help students prepare for a career as a funeral director, mortician or embalmer. People in this field have very rewarding careers.

Careers in Mortuary Science

There are three main careers in mortuary science: embalmer, funeral director and mortician.

Embalmer

Embalmers use chemicals and techniques to preserve bodies. They usually work in funeral homes where they prepare bodies for funerals. However, some embalmers work in at medical centers where they prepare cadavers to be studied so medical students can prepare for a career and so researchers can learn more about the human body.

Funeral Director

Funeral directors help people plan funerals. These professionals usually work in funeral homes and sometimes they run and manage the entire business. This career is very important because people who have this job help those grieving the loss of a loved one find ways to remember and memorialize the person who has passed away.

Mortician

The terms “mortician” and “funeral director” are sometimes interchanged. These jobs are very similar, as they both entail helping people plan funerals. The title of a person in this field will depend on their responsibilities or where they work. In general, morticians and funeral directors have the same responsibilities.

Starting a Career in Mortuary Science

If you are interested in working in mortuary science as an embalmer, funeral director or mortician, you will need to earn your degree. Most people in this field earn either an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree in funeral directing or mortuary science.

These degree programs will include classes in biology, chemistry, human anatomy, embalming and embalming art. Some programs also include classes in business so students understand how a funeral home works as a business and how they can open their own funeral home. Both of these degree programs will teach you about mortuary science and help you prepare for a successful career.
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