A Career To Die For

funeral director

If you possess good organisational skills along with a strong heart and an even stronger stomach, consider a career as a funeral director. Palak Kapadia explores this ‘grave’ profession

The death of a loved one is a traumatic time for the family. Funeral directors aid a bereaved family to plan a memorable funeral service in honour of their deceased beloved. Contrary to the popular myth, this gloomier counterpart of wedding planning does not require actual handling of the dead. Rather, it is concerned with coordinating all aspects of a funeral. Though funeral directors cannot bring back the dead, they can ease the transition between life and death for families.

What will I do?

Here’s what goes into planning a typical funeral:

  •  Consulting with the family about the details of the funeral such as the time and place
  • Making coffin provisions, arranging for flowers, headstones, etc
  • Meeting with officials of the selected cemetery to purchase interment  property
  • Completing legal requirements such as obtaining death certificates and burial permits
  • When required, carrying out the dressing and embalming of the bodies

What is the scope of the profession?

Despite being a popular occupation abroad, a funeral director is not as common in India. It is, however, gaining popularity at a rapid pace. “In the Western and European countries, there are funeral colleges and courses. One has to become licensed and trained as per the international standards. In India, it is still growing,” says Elroy Noronha of Indian Rescue and Funeral Services. While the clientele consists mainly of Christians, nowadays a lot of people from other religions request the services of funeral directors as well.

What do I study?

  • Two or four-year course in mortuary sciences at universities abroad
  • The course covers anatomy, physiology, pathology, embalming techniques and business management
  • No prescribed qualification for funeral direction in India. Studies in a related field, such as business or event management, coupled with internships in funeral homes are recommended.

What perks will I enjoy?

  • Since this profession is still emerging in India, it is not very competitive; establishing yourself is relatively easy
  • Since death is certain, it is a profession that never dies, no pun intended
  • The biggest perk is the feeling of satisfaction and pride in caring for the dead in the most honourable way possible. Being there for a devastated family in their time of utmost need ensures that you are brimming with inner contentment and are rewarded with a sense of satisfaction.

What challenges will I face?

It is a very challenging profession as death is an unplanned event. “Funeral directors have to work odd working hours, [get] no weekends at times and [face] harsh working conditions,” Noronha says.  Besides being physically demanding, it is also emotionally taxing. Dealing with death all the time and an omnipresent feeling of sorrow in the workplace can often bring you down.


Job profile:

Funeral directors plan a memorable funeral service in honour of the deceased. They ease the transition between life and death for families.


Individual funeral services are priced between Rs 2,000 and Rs 10,000, depending on the services clients use. In a mid-sized firm,  remuneration can range from Rs 25,000 to Rs 50,000 a month.

Skills set:

Emotional stability and a strong heart, compassion and empathy for the aggrieved family, ability to provide psychological support, a strong stomach for post-mortem sights and smells, a good black suit


  • University of Minnesota, USA
  • Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science, USA
  • Worsham University of Mortuary Science, USA
  • Wayne State University, USA
  • University of Chester, UK


While celebrities are known to act quirky every once in a while, these top three wacky celebrity funerals define new levels of bizarre!

As per his request in his will, James Doohan’s family launched his ashes into outer space for burial. Well, it was only appropriate for Scotty to have a Star Trek funeral.

Hunter S. Thompson, the internationally acclaimed journalist, had his ashes shot out of a cannon that was mounted on a 150-foot tower in a funeral ceremony funded by his close friend, Johnny Depp.

Rapper Tupac Shakur’s funeral service was cancelled at the last minute and he was cremated. His crew, the Outlawz, then mixed his ashes with w**d and smoked him! Creeped out? We wouldn’t blame you.


Volume 3 Issue 2


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